ΤROY TOO, HERE ARTS CENTER, NEW YORK
Karen Malpede's innovative, political and poetic play Troy Too is inspired by Euripides' Trojan Women. Written in the midst of the pandemic, it recounts the tragic historical continuity and our common fate and responsibility, while focusing on contemporary forms of crisis such as the health crisis, climate change and racism, solidifying the moment when these threats were understood as one inter-related planetary crisis. The piece is a memory of a crucially traumatic historical moment, and a prediction of suffering to come, unless we heed the experiences of the victims.
Troy Too reimagines Euripides’ war tragedy of displacement, by creating a context where our century’s recent calamities are being dictated and supervised by mythical figures that have landed on our wounded earth to teach as a lesson. Two goddesses (Plague and Profit) set the plot in action: A modern-day ageing Hecuba becomes witness to a series of events that seem to mark the end of an era; a fish speaks of the plastic war; the BLM movement and the deeply divided American nation unfold in front of our eyes; the medical workers in Intensive Care Units remind us of the immense toll of the coronavirus pandemic.
Directed by Avra Sidiropoulou, Troy Too had its world premiere at HERE Arts Center in New York In May 2023, with the great tragedian Lydia Koniordou leading a strong multiracial ensemble. The production played for two weeks to full houses, receiving rave reviews. The project was a collaboration between two theater groups renowned for their experimental and socially reflective artistic profile – Malpede's New York-based Theater Three Collaborative and Athens’ Persona Theatre Company.
In the performance, the mental landscapes resonated with collective memories of social and cultural calamities. In its psycho-visual environments, the documentary aesthetic informs the invented scenes, while the plight of one nation blends with the global, the classical past meets futuristic dystopia, and personal nightmares become a metaphor of our century's moral collapse.
Playwright: Karen Malpede
Director: Avra Sidiropoulou
Set Consultant-Lighting Design: Tony Giovannetti
Costume Designer: Carissa Kelly & Sally Ann Parsons
Composer: Vanias Apergis
Director of Photography- Video art: Michael Demetrius
Video Designer: Tzavra Bulloch
Stage Manager: Neno
Assistant Lighting Designer: Miriam Crowe
Assistant Costume Designer: Carissa Kelly
Production Team (Athens): Maria Hadjistylli, Tzoulia Kogkou, Katia Makrykosta
Production Manager: Jee Duman
Performers: Lydia Koniordou, Tommie J. Moore, Abigail Ramsay, Di Zhu, David Glover, Ilker Oztop, and Ethan Jones. Featuring: George Bartenieff (audio) with Ilia Pappa and Anthi Savvaki (video)
Troy Too is made possible with the support of the J. F. Costopoulos Foundation, Nina Kamberos, and Aspa & Andreas Andreades.
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Reviews - Articles:
TheaterScene.org: 12/05/23 Darryl Reilly
«These words reflecting a dark epoch, start off Troy Too, following video designer Michael Demetrius’ haunting dreamy preamble consisting of landscapes, cityscapes and sharp bits by actors Illia Pappa and Anthi Savaki. That speech is delivered by the magnificent Greek actor Lydia Koniordou as the soothsayer figure, Hecuba.»
«Director Avra Sidiropoulou places and moves the cast onstage with spatial and emotional impact while orchestrating the technical elements for a striking presentation.»
The Indypendent: 15/05/23 Eleanor J. Bader
A Greek Tragedy for Our Times
«The nonlinear work showcases Lydia Koniordou, considered one of Greece’s finest classical actors, and her intense performance as Hecuba is filled with mournful angst. “People will learn or be destroyed,” she declares. Her heartfelt lament — for New York City, for the United States, and for the world as a whole — highlights the stakes of ignoring the multiple crises we’re facing.»
«The play provides a focused — and moving — segue between past and present.»
«Troy Too is a dolorous work, an ode to grief and loss. At the same time, the play presents people who continue to offer love and comfort to one another, who continue to protest inequities, and who persist in carrying on with their lives.»
Broadway DNA Blog: 03/06/23 Natalie Rine
REVIEW: Athens’ Persona Theater Company & New York’s Theater Three Collaborative’s «TROY TOO»
«Troy Too gets under your skin as a visceral, timely, and communal lament that cuts across languages and cultures bound together by the cyclical nature of tragedy.. .The play cracks open our assumptions of antiquity and inverts our classical reverence into a contemporary call to action.»
«Out of the body bags, our cast arises in poetic language and staging helmed by Greek director Avra Sidiropoulou, milking fluid scenes of heartbreak and decay that gives each actor time to indulge. Like its Euripides inspiration, “Troy Too” centers a host of characters grappling with the fallout from powerful and irrational forces, only here helpless against conquest and destruction from alternating scenes of police brutality, global pandemic, and pollution. To address these very current, intersectional issues is a Herculean undertaking and a powerful capability of live theatre that we often forget is possible in a culture plagued with long development times.»
«This joint presentation proves a beacon for successful social justice and international collaboration that should challenge the capitalist constraints of time that dictate our current New York theatre landscape, encourage more works of immediate reaction and relevancy, and incite audiences to real-time collective trauma processing and protestation.»
«A true ensemble piece»
The National Herald: 15/05/23 Eleni Sakellis
Powerful Troy Too Starring Dynamic Koniordou and Ensemble Cast Not to Be Missed
«Directed by Avra Sidiropoulou, written by Karen Malpede, and with music by Vanias Apergis, this imaginatively staged and evocative play is not to be missed.»
«Greek director Sidiropoulou, known for her innovative multimedia stagings of modern and classical texts, brings Troy Too shockingly alive in an international production that cuts across languages and cultures. The play, one of the first to tackle the COVID pandemic, is an angry yet beautiful communal lament, one that has been lacking from public life.»
Weekly Issue of National Herald.
By Yana Katsageorgi. Saturday 3-Sunday 4 June 2023.
«A multiracial show directed by Avra Sidiropoulou which has thrilled New Yorkers»
«A fascinating and highly topical performance»
«Avra Sidiropoulou, through her singular perspective, connected the relationships of today's people with the classical past and broke the barriers of time, employing some text in ancient Greek tragedy, which so skillfully complemented the poetic idiom of Karen Malpede.»
By Dionysos Alexiou. 2 July 2023.
«The director masterfully manages to transform the New York stage into a thematic ‘projector’ communicating experiences, stories and moments from the very recent past: from the collateral losses of the pandemic, to the "Black Lives Matter" movement and the all too visible remnants of climate change, constituting them scattered fragments of an allegorical symbolism, where the impenetrable walls of Troy are replaced by New York skyscrapers and the Scamander by the Hudson».