Monday, October 6, 2008

A successful College Night!

This past Thursday was "College Night" at the theatre. We invited college students and professors to see The Persians, and held a talk-back after the show, followed by a small reception for everyone who stayed. For those of you who don't know, a talk-back is where the audience is invited to stay after the performance, and the actors come back out onto the stage to answer questions. It's entertaining and informative, and we get a lot of great questions. The student audience was no different, and below you'll find a summary of some of the questions that were asked.
  • Elizabeth Pool (Resident Dramaturg and host of the talk-back): Tell us what you will talk about on the ride home tonight. What moments, images, costumes stuck with you?

    Audience member: The way the play resonated with our times. The hubris can be compared to the United States, both now and in Vietnam.

  • Audience member: Were there really women counselors?

    Actor 1: Yes! No. I’ve been waiting for someone to ask that question! There was one woman warrior that Heroditus mentions. She disguised herself as a Greek and took down one of their ships. He said “My women act like men and my men act like women”

    Actor 2: Persian women ran businesses, owned land, and had money that was separate from their husbands. They were pretty liberated.

  • Audience member: This play portrays Darius as very sympathetic.

    Actor 1: Darius was pretty enlightened. He didn’t try to take away the belief systems of the countries he conquered.

    Actor 2: It started with Cyrus. He was conquering other lands, but he would let them stay multi-ethnic, multi cultural. Different nations under Persia. It was like that until Xerxes.

  • Audience Member: Is the play more about the Persian Tragedy or the Athenian triumph?

    Actors: Aeschylus fought in two major battles and his brother died in the first. What’s amazing to me is that just a few years later he turned around and wrote this play. And he wrote it just when Athens was thinking about becoming more like Persia. It was a cautionary tale.

  • Audience member: Can you talk about the deconstruction and interaction of the chorus? And you were all so descriptive with your bodies.

    Actor 1: Part of the acting challenge was the heightened language. Our director didn’t want us to talk out to the audience in classical Greek style automatically. Maybe ten days into the rehearsal, she turned down the lights to get us to just talk to each other. So it’s not GREEK TRAGEDY. So we would communicate as much as possible.

    Actor 2: Aeschylus wrote this as a chorus, and so did Ellen MacLaughlin. The first director divided it into chambers of the cabinet.

After the talk-back, we invited everyone into the lower lobby for refreshments, and the actors came out to mingle with the crowd.

In this picture, you can see (from left to right): Miriam Hyman (The Herald), Nancy Shaw (Director of Education at PLTC), Mark Hairston (Xerxes), and the back of Kevin Bergen (The Chairman). The entire cast made an appearance, and it was interesting to watch them continue the talk-back in the form of one-on-one conversations with the audience members.