Mary Wehbie

Miami University’s Department of Theater will present Euripides’ Trojan Women in October as their first production of the 2007-08 season, as well as a part of the School of Fine Arts’ Social Justice Series.

A committee of directors for the 2007-08 season met, and after reading various plays, decided on Trojan Women to launch the season, said director Bekka Eaton, a Northwestern University graduate and a faculty member at Miami University’s Hamilton campus for the past seven years.

Trojan Women had a great impact on Eaton from the time she was an undergraduate at Northwestern University.

“It was a very human play, because (Euripides) writes so eloquently about the human experience,” she said. “It cuts through the ages.”

Performances will run at 8 p.m. Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13, with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Oct. 14, at the Gates-Abegglen Theatre.

According to Eaton, planning for Trojan Women began in April. Ideas were given to designers who put them into visual form with drawings and over time, the drawings become more concrete, which allowed the crew to be ready for casting and rehearsals at the beginning of the school year.

The cast consists of approximately 12 actors, and while most are theater majors, the parts were open to any majors. Trojan Women has all original music composed by Miami student Jeff Goins, with contributions by Eaton.

Taking place during the Peloponnesian War, senior theater major Jenna Watson, who plays the lead role of Hecuba, said Trojan Women tells the story of women waiting to be shipped off as slaves and depicts the demise of the women’s families. It depicts pain, war grief and loss of life.

“Trojan Woman is a play that is needed at this campus, especially with the war and race issues,” Watson said. “This play teaches you to appreciate life and family.”

Watson, who has been a participant in Miami’s theater program since her first year, said that playing the part of an older woman approximately 40 years her senior has been a challenge, but she has been aided by her experience.

“With every role, you learn how to appreciate a part and previous parts have helped me as an actor to learn to shape a character through the script,” Watson said.

When working on the script, Eaton gave much attention to the Ancient Greek point of view, specifically exploring topics of hubris, fate and priorities.

“It is not in any specific time,” Eaton said. “Trojan Women resonates into any time period.”

The set design, costumes and props reflect the universal themes presented in Trojan Women by incorporating items from various cultures and time periods.

The overall message of the play, according to Watson, can be summarized in Euripides’ words when he states that life is not what death is; death is empty, life has hope.