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November 7, 2007

Purdue Theatre to present 'The Women of Troy'

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue Theatre will perform a contemporary translation with original music and movement to examine "The Women of Troy," an homage to war victims.

Performances are 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16-17, 3 p.m. Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1, and 3 p.m. Dec. 1 in the Nancy T. Hansen Theatre in the Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts.

Visiting artist Jason King Jones will direct the play.

"We are delighted to have Jason King Jones as our guest director for 'The Women of Troy,'" said Joel Ebarb, interim chair of the Division of Theatre. "He has worked with many professional companies and has an appreciation for the educational mission of Purdue Theatre, which he has gained through his experience working with several other universities and the educational outreach work he has done primarily through the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. 

"His love of working with developing actors is evident in his enthusiasm and in the way he creates an open, explorative atmosphere, which allows each cast member to bring something unique to the development of a character."

"The Women of Troy" was written by Euripides and first performed 2,400 years ago, but the production has the same relevancy of a contemporary play, Ebarb said.

"At the beginning of the process, there were several questions our creative team asked," Jones said. "How can we make this story relevant? How can we take this piece of theater off the museum shelf? After an aggressor nation wins a war, then what happens? And that led us to look into the effects of war on a civilian population. The obvious read was with our country fighting a war on terrorism at home and overseas and the military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is an obvious parallel to be made with this story.

"From that viewpoint on, we began to deal with this theme. What happens to the victims of human trafficking? How can we gain a better understanding of this tragedy? How can we understand the plight of the victims of human trafficking? As the play begins, they question how much worse can it get. The macabre reality is that it can get worse, and the play shows us how."

The scenery for the play has the look and feel of an anonymous holding cell, said Charlie Calvert, a Purdue instructor and set designer.

"We deliberately created a very stark and sterile environment to mirror the bleak future of these women who are waiting to learn what will happen to them as the spoils of war. It is a state of purgatory."

Sound design graduate student Jason Knox created the sound for the play, which features original music composed specifically for this production.

"The challenge in this play was writing music for the chorus parts," Knox said. "The text is already there, but setting it to music in a way that tells the story and, at the same time, entertains – that's the trick. Other than those moments, there will be a bit of moody underscore and some sound effects."

The costumes for the play will be modern with some classical elements, said Shelby Newport, a graduate student in costume design.

"'Women of Troy' is a modern translation that we've set in a modern world, while using the classical attributes for accent and emphasis," she said. "We've really played with the idea that this is a universal world that all people can relate to but isn't too specific."

The play is not an average Greek tragedy, Jones said.

"As a director and artist, I am always looking for ways to stretch and grow in my craft," he said. "The great thing about the classics is that the truths they show are still alive and that they live in a fresh and vibrant way for today's society. We hope that 'The Women of Troy' gives everyone who sees it something you would not expect when you think of a Greek tragedy."

Admission to the play is $10.50 for the general public and $8.50 for students. Tickets are available at the Stewart Center, Elliott and Yue-Kong Pao Hall box offices or by calling (765) 494-3933 or (800) 914-SHOW.

Writer: Christy Jones, (765) 494-1089,

Sources: Joel Ebarb, (765) 494-3081,

Jason King Jones, (765) 494-3083,

David Lageveen, director of marketing and donor relations for Purdue Theatre, (765) 494-3084,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Photographers are invited to take photos during a 7:30 p.m. rehearsal on Nov. 12. To make arrangements, contact David Lageveen, Purdue Theatre director of marketing and donor relations, (765) 494-3084, . There also will be a preview performance of "The Women of Troy" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15.

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