Iphigenia in Tauris was written in 414 BCE by Euripides.
Iphigenia is asked by her father, Agamemnon, to come to Aulis to marry Achilles. In reality, she is being sent to her death. Following the instructions of the priest Kalchas, her father sacrifices her to Artemis in order to induce prevailing winds for the invasion of Troy. Euripides suggests that Iphigenia was saved from Agamemnon’s sacrifice and was carried off by divine power to the distant land of Tauris, while a mere phantom was placed on the altar.
Iphigenia lives in Tauris, a priestess of the temple where all strangers who set foot on these barbarian shores are cruelly sacrificed. When her brother, Orestes, arrives, accompanied by his friend Pylades, the siblings are reunited after years of separation. But there is a moral peril: it will be her duty to prepare the newcomers for death. Iphigenia must deceive Thomas, the barbarian King, in order to save them all.
The play describes the meeting of two foreign and opposite worlds: that of ancient Athenian democracy and that of a fantastical, mystical world of a barbarian race conducting human sacrifices. It raises questions about their perception of and relationship to each other; it toys with the idea of two stages of human history co-existing on the same theatrical stage; and hints at a dark cosmos moving in patterns incomprehensible to the human mind, where fragments of human experience finally prove to be miraculously coordinated parts of a coherent whole. This fascinating theme sparked the idea of bringing together a group of artists, equally divided between Americans and Greeks, to work together on a script of the play which would be performed in English and ancient Greek in both countries.
The play is seen as a magical fable illustrating a young generation coming of age in a violent, destructive world which the older generations have left in a chaotic and disjointed state. An attempt is made by means of dream sequences to trace the voyage of youth into the dark world of barbarism and death through to its emergence into a coherent universe of reconciliation and light.
Iphigenia in Taurisisthe official gift from Greece and the Greek American community to the United States on the occasion of the Christopher Columbus Quincentennial.
Performance text by: Yannis Houvardas
As adapted from the English translation by Richard Lattimore with excerpts from the original text
Directed by: Yannis Houvardas
Assistant Director: Niketi Kontouri
Sets and costumes designed by: Dionyssis Fotopoulos
Music composed and performed by: Genzi Ito
Lighting design by: Howard Thies
Iphigenia: Alyssa Bresnahan
Iphigenia I: Christina Alexanian
Iphigenia II: Sandra Daley
Iphigenia III: Laurie Galluccio
Iphigenia IV: Sarah Graham Hayes
Iphigenia V: Natalia Kapodistria
Iphigenia VI: Monica Koskey
Iphigenia VII: Anna Mascha
Orestes: Gregory Karr
Pylades: Randolf Curtis Rand
Mesengers: Akyllas Karazissis
Thoas: Paul Bauvais
Athena: Ching Valdes-Aran
Producer: Yannis Simonides
Production by: La Mama ETC, Theatro Notou, EllinikoTheatro
At La Mama ETC, 66 East 4thStreet, NYC