Preview: "Iphigenia in Tauris"

The classic Greek play Iphigenia in Tauris is coming to Weber State University Wednesday night, and viewers will deal with several timeless themes like love, family ties and animosity according to costume designer Phillip Lowe.

“We all have this idea about different culture, and I think the older the culture is, the less modern people think they have anything to do with it,” Lowe said. “But, the human experience is very much the same for everyone no matter where or when you live.”

The plot focuses on Iphigenia, who is offered as a sacrifice by her father. The goddess Artemis substitutes Iphigenia’s body before she is sacrificed, though, and Iphigenia becomes a goddess forced to sacrifice people. As the play goes on, she must sacrifice her brother but is given help by the goddess Athena.

“It’s got a great plot and it’s not difficult to follow,” said, Jim Svendsen, Classical Greek Theatre Festival director. “The fact that this play has a lot of plot makes it interesting and keeps it interesting to the end.”

This play originally written by Euripides around 414 BC is essentially a love story, but a love story in the ancient Greek sense, because it’s all about friendship.

“It’s a sweet little romance,” Svendsen said. “But it’s also a play about revenge. It’s a coming of age story. It’s about family, and it has a great plot as opposed to a lot of Greek tragedy.”

All Greek tragedies are musicals, and Iphigenia in Tauris is no exception.

“One of the great aspects of the Classical Greek Theatre Festival is we have music in our modern production everywhere that there’s music in the ancient text,” Svendsen said. “We also have a wonderful chorus with five lovely ladies with lovely voices.”

For this play, a composer wrote the music to specifically go along with this production’s text. The composer studied a lot of ancient Greek music, Svendsen said.

“The sound of the show is sometimes foreign and exotic and sometimes middle-eastern,” Svendsen said. “It really gives support to the show, because all the big moments have music underneath them.”

Then, a choreographer worked directly with the ensemble.

“This show goes beyond just the storyline and theatrical element of it,” Lowe said. “It will interest people who are interested in music or dance too.”

Lowe also said the overall set design and props for this Greek tragedy is very simple.

“It’s a temple that looks kind of Greek and kind of not Greek,” Lowe said. “I’d say in terms of the look of the show it’s rather traditional and has a real Greek flavor to it.”

It was a challenge to create the outfits, because Tauris is a barbarian outland without a lot of information with what the people looked like, Lowe said. He said he took some influence from African, Turkish, and middle-eastern things.

“As a designer, I make sure if there’s a certain dance or movement in the show their costume isn’t an actor trap for them,” Lowe said. “I also create the costumes to work with their movement, so it’s visually interesting.”

Weber State University freshman Travis Yost hasn’t attended a Greek play before but said he thinks it sounds interesting.

“It’s always good to experience new things,” Yost said. “I think it’s exciting to see something new and this play sounds like it has a great storyline.”

For more information about Greek culture and the play, an information lecture will be held on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Shepherd Union’s Fireplace Lounge.

“The lecture isn’t necessary to understand the play, but it will make it a much richer experience,” Svendsen said. “You’ll hear a lot about the culture and their language.”

Iphigenia in Tauris will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Wildcat Theater on Wednesday.