“Iphigenia and Other Daughters” is a feminist retelling of ancient Greek plays

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Bree Tiffany (Electra) and Tiffany Horne (Chrysothemis) rehearse for "Iphigenia and Other Daughters," which opens Thursday in the Mark A. Chapman Theatre. (JD Warren | Kansas State Theatre Marketing Office Associate)

“Iphigenia and Other Daughters” by Ellen McLaughlin opens Thursday at the Mark A. Chapman Theatre. The show is an adaptation written of three plays from ancient Greek playwrights Euripides and Sophocles.

Director Jennifer Vellenga, associate professor of music, theatre and dance, said the show is feminist twist of an ancient Greek story.

“It’s a female playwright’s retelling of the Iphigenia story, or ‘The House of Atreus,’” Vellenga said. “Ellen McLaughlin has written a number of adaptations of Greek plays. It’s one of her passions. It her retelling of one of those ancient plays.”

Elizabeth Kritikos, senior in theatre, is playing Clytemnestra, the mother of Iphigenia and Electra. Her love of Greek literature drew her to this show, she said.

“I love the way it reads on stage,” Kritikos said. “It was one of those plays that I heard about it and I had to be in it. I just love the way the Greeks did tragedy.”

The department makes sure students have the option to participate in a variety of play types during their time in school. When it came time to do a Greek play, Vellenga didn’t want to do another male playwright.

“The Me Too movement got kicked off right around the time that we were reading plays,” Vellenga said. “We knew we wanted to do a Greek because we thought it was time to educationally teach our students about that kind of play. I just didn’t want to do one of the Greek playwrights; I felt like we could do better. So, [we] picked a female playwright.”

Vellenga said she also made an effort to select a diverse cast.

“My Iphigenia is black,” Vellenga said. “One of the sisters is black. One of the chorus members is a black woman. Of the ten people on the cast, three of them are African-American. That’s important to me, to make sure that we’re always giving opportunity to everyone, not just based on what the norms are.”

Vellenga said she believes the message of the ancient plays that have been adapted in “Iphigenia and Other Daughters” is relevant to today.

“One of the things that we have found, especially the last couple of weeks with Kavanaugh, that there’s a lot of resonance for what’s happening in our world today,” Vellenga said. “The reason ancient plays get done, even a retelling of an ancient play, is that they have some resonance for right now.”

Kritikos said she hopes the play leaves the students with an understanding of the role of women at the time.

“We don’t hear a lot about Grecian women, they’re just kind of just mindless, thoughtless, voiceless figures from the past that had a role, but wasn’t really explained unless they were very important,” Kritikos said. “I hope the audience sees that the strong women existed even if it wasn’t told.”

The show consists of three short acts. It runs about 75 minutes with no intermission. Show dates are Oct. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 14 at 2:30 p.m. in the Mark A. Chapman Theatre in Nichols Hall. Student tickets are $11. Tickets can be bought online at www.k-state.edu/mtd/tickets.

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I'm Pete Loganbill and I'm the News Editor for the Collegian and host of the Collegian Kultivate podcast! I spent two years at Johnson County Community College, and I am now a senior in Public Relations at K-State. I believe constant communication leads to progress, no matter how difficult a comment may be for me or anyone to hear. Contact me at ploganbill@kstatecollegian.com.