You may know the works of Greek playwright Euripides, and you may also know the characters of his play "Iphigenia in Aulis." However, chances are that you have never seen the play reinvented in the way senior theatre arts major Sofya Weitz has brought it to life in her interpretation of Charles Mee's play, "Iphegenia 2.0," which opens Wednesday, Nov. 9 at the Del Rey Theatre.
The original play focuses on Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek coalition during the Trojan War and his decision to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis to secure the Greek victory. But "Iphigenia 2.0" takes elements from the original play such as family, betrayal, love, hope and death, and blends them with the surreallistic to create a work that reaches back to the Greek tradition, while staying accessible to modern audiences.
"It's the story of Iphigenia, who was Agamemnon's daughter," explained Weitz. "He had to sacrifice her before he could go to Troy to fight the Trojan War. This play really takes place on the brink of disaster."
Just because the play draws from a classical background does not mean it lacks interest for modern audiences. Weitz refers to "Iphigenia 2.0" as "postmodern" and "surreal," and believes the play to have a unique, collage-like quality.
"Mee takes a lot of the original text and considers it in a modern adaptation," Weitz said. "He has a lot of modern dialogue, but he also throws in things from other sources."
Weitz maintains that the core of the story is something that transcends time and locale to hold relevance for audiences today.
"It's real human and emotion and violence and love and death and all the fundamental aspects of life," she said. "But it's presented in a real, heightened way."
Weitz's interest in the play stems from a romantic relationship with Mee and his work. She had already directed two of the three plays in the sequence, "Orestes 2.0" and "Agamemnon 2.0" at other theaters before she took on her role as director of "Iphigenia 2.0." When asked why she chose to direct "Iphigenia 2.0" in particular, Weitz says that she found herself interested by the surrealist elements of the play as well as the original source material. "I'm drawn to Greek myth," she said. "And I'm drawn to Charles Mee's style of writing."
Mee's writing allows for directorial interpretation in terms of stage direction, lighting and prop use. "There's a lot of empty space," Weitz says. "He gave me a lot to work with, and I'm excited about that." The lack of stage direction in the text has given her license to reinvent the play for herself. For example, Weitz says she's added some music and dance parts to the production, though not elements traditionally found in tragic plays.
However, with so many unique elements to the play, one would think she might be worried about how to best make use of the space in the black-box style Del Rey Theatre, and Weitz admits that she's had to rework her vision a bit. "There are certain ideas that I've had about effects, but I don't want to put the audience in danger," she said. "You have to work with what you have." The theater is set up in a way that places the audience in close proximity to the actors, and as such, she's had to tailor her concept a bit to suit space restrictions.
Even so, Weitz is enthusiastic about the production. "It's a very heightened commentary on the harsh realities of human life," she said. "I think everyone should come see it."
"Iphigenia 2.0" will run at the Del Rey Theatre Nov. 9-10, 12-13 and 16-19 at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the LMU Central Ticket Agency in person or by phone at (310) 338-7588.