University of Tasmania

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The Trojan Women

posted on 2023-05-25, 11:44 authored by Lewis, Robert
Directors Notes, by Robert Lewis: The Trojan Women showcases powerful feminine characters from antiquity, at the walls of Troy; Hecuba, Cassandra, Andromache and Helen. We see the fates of these women of Troy soon after their city has been ransacked and husbands slaughtered, to be taken away as slaves. We see Troy, the oppressed, destroyed city, and Greece beyond the horizon. Oppressed foreign populations have resonated throughout history, and even today, we witness foreign lands being invaded by the so called 'enlightened' civilisations. Jean-Paul Sartre was one of those people who was influenced by this notion. He adapted Euripides' classic, The Trojan Women', in 1965 as a response to the French/Algerian war. The reason why this play was chosen for the Tasmanian College of the Arts Classical Production was because it has a clear, contemporary text, despite being set in ancient times, but with extremely relevant and topical themes. Sartre's adaptation stays true to Euripides story, yet it also could have been written about Afghanistan or Iraq; an indication that nothing has really changed in thousands of years. You can see that The Trojan Women deals with contemporary issues, and the story resonates with a modern audience. This is why we have staged it in an almost ambiguous, ubiquitous and somewhat modern setting with inklings of antiquity demonstrated in the set design, which almost merges the classic with the contemporary. Choreography, masks, music, togas and declamatory acting style - elements which are synonymous with Ancient Greek theatre - have been abandoned. The actors have created an atmosphere which is relatively contemporary, using contemporary acting techniques and a unique and individual interpretation of Trojan gestures, mannerisms and cultural symbols. The rehearsal process was thorough. We explored the method developed by Swedish dancer and acting teacher, Yat Malmgren, who was a key figure at the Drama Centre in London. Yat's method, simply put, is an amalgamation of Konstantin Stanislavski's psychological actions coupled with Laban's eight efforts (which is, by the way, only a small part of Laban's work). For each line of dialogue (up to the punctuation mark), the actors had to find a psychological action (an action verb) and a physical action (based on Laban's eight efforts), move the effort in the scene, then add the psychological action before even attempting to speak the lines. A long process, but an effective one. Ronald Duncan's version is a free adaptation, not a literal translation of Sartre's. It was written to be clearly understood, not to be confusing.



Theatre Performance


School of Creative Arts and Media


80 min

Event Venue

Annexe Theatre, Launceston

Date of Event (Start Date)


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Copyright unknown

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

The performing arts

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