Talkback: Hecuba

led by Mary-Kay Gamel
University of California at Santa Cruz

Mary-Kay Gamel leads a talkback after
the October 9, 2010, performance of Hecuba at Randolph College


by Amy R. Cohen (Randolph College)

The first Ancient Drama in Performance conference featured my production of Euripides' Hecuba in a new translation (for the translation, working scipt, and video from the performance, see Didaskalia 8 (2011) 32). The conference stressed the importance of the interactions between scholars and practitioners of ancient drama, and so it was crucial to feature the great scholar and practitioner Mary-Kay Gamel in the program. Gamel has for years pushed the boundaries of what can be accomplished in ancient drama and over and over has made fresh, high-stakes decisions in her direction. I could think of no better person to lead a reaction to my original-practices Hecuba, since at first glance our shows are at the opposite ends of the ancient drama spectrum of production. What we all discovered in the talkback, of course, is that we simply take difference paths to connecting ancient plays with modern audiences.

The discussion ranges widely: Gamel made sure we covered certain subjects, and the audience brought up things we might not have thought of. The sound quality varies, and we did not always know the identity of the questioners, but the talkback covers many question important to consider in any production of ancient drama, original practices or not.

Some of the topics of conversation:
        The size of the set and skene (at 0:04).
        Killing the children of Polymestor (at 2:50).
        What the play means to us now (at 3:48).
        An African-American Hecuba (at 5:00).
        Women and power (at 6:10).
        How masks change the way you act (at 9:40).
        Thematic doubling (at 15:12).
        Doubling of Polyxena and Talthybius (at 19:08).
        Doubling of Odysseus and Agamemnon (at 19:35).
        Questions about the masks (at 20:50).
        Emotions in the masks (at 26:28).
        The choice of song, music, and dance (at 28:54).
        Original masks, so why not original music (at 32:08).
        The effectiveness of the chorus (at 35:01).
        The community nature of the Greek Play (at 36:08).


A PDF of this piece: Volume 8, Number 33.