Play at NCC Explores Women’s Role in Greek Myths

ancient greek tragedyA new play that was produced by North Central College in the U.S. will be examining various ancient Greek tragedies through women’s point of view. The play entitled “Iphigenia and Other Daughters” is written by American playwright Ellen McLaugline and directed by Kelly Howe, Assistant Professor of Theater and Coordinator of Gender and Women’s Studies.

It is a feminist re-examination of three ancient Greek myths by Euripides and Sophocles and it focuses on the legend of Iphigenia, the daughter of King Agamemnon who was sent to be sacrificed to the ancient Greek goddess, Arthemis.

“These are three well-known, and in the case of Electra, very well-known, tragedies,” Howe said. “Ellen McLaughlin took up the grand mythic stories that are treated in these plays and remade them with a kind of feminist sensibility; with a particular critical eye toward the way that women’s voices were often marginalized in the initial tragic versions by these playwrights.”

According to the director, the play is a re-telling of the mythic story of the House of Atreus, an important Greek family of the era. Some of the most famous characters from ancient tragedies such as Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Electra, Orestes and Iphigenia will be part of the story. “It is a bloody cycle of revenge that gets enacted in various ways through generations of that family,” she said.

Essentially, the writer used the main even –the sacrifice of Iphigenia- to raise bigger questions about the place of women in mythic societies.

“Men are living these grand, heroic, epic narratives where they get to take action and do things, and often in these ancient Greek versions of these stories, women were either on the margins of them and not part of the annals of history,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful, moving, affecting story about how much we take on the legacy of our parents, and how we as siblings shoulder those burdens together or separately,” Howe said