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  • Writer's pictureSam Baldwin

Thoughts from Brian Kettler, our 2016 playwright

"One of my playwriting heroes, Kirk Lynn, preaches the importance of writing 'unreasonable' plays. This is a such funky term. What does that mean, unreasonable? What does it have to do with making theater? What does it have to do with Greeks?

My takeaway is this: it’s perfectly natural to write plays wherein evenhanded, logical characters converse with other evenhanded, logical characters, debating various points, while gently coaxing forward the plot. These plays generally take place in locations like coffee shops, apartments, living rooms. The pattern is familiar. Clever insults are bandied about, past traumas are slowly uncovered, eventually some sort of pleasing, sensible climax is reached and a new, slightly altered stasis is established. It’s nice. It’s fine. But it’s not Greek.

There’s nothing reasonable about Greek Theater. The Greeks are fucking crazy. The plays are violent, bloody, sexually explicit and often just plain nuts. Mothers fall in love with their sons. Fathers murder their daughters. Have you read Oedipus lately? Have you read The Bacchae? That’s some NC-17 type of shit!

Iphigenia 3.0 is my attempt to wrestle with these violent, beautiful, sad, unreasonable stories. My primary source text is Iphigenia in Tauris, by Euripides. It centers on Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, who was sacrificed by her father in order to gain favorable winds on his way to fight in the Trojan War. Euripides imagines an alternate history where Iphigenia was saved from sacrifice at the last moment and brought to the island of Tauris. Her role is to ritually wash all Greek sailors who come to the island, before they are sacrificed to the goddess, Artemis. The play begins when her long lost brother, Orestes, washes up on the shores of Tauris and the reunited siblings work together to escape before Orestes is sacrificed.

Iphigenia 3.0 is a wacky, anomalous play. I was immediately drawn to the star-crossed brother and sister, who share a tragic, brutal family history. After Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia, his wife, Clytemnestra, murdered him to avenge the death of her daughter. Later, her son, Orestes, murdered Clytemnestra and was left forever tormented by the violent, vengeful Furies. I’ve focused my adaptation on the relationship that develops between Iphigenia and Orestes. I’ve invented a chorus of three Taurian women, who worship Iphigenia and fight to keep the siblings apart. There are elements of Tragedy, Horror, Comedy and Action/Adventure.

I’ve had so much fun writing this play. I’ve tried to make it unreasonable. There’s lots of sex. There’s lots of blood. I’m striving for some NC-17 type of shit! I can’t wait to share Iphigenia 3.0 with actors, designers, directors, dramaturgs. I can’t wait to share it with an audience. I’m so grateful for the opportunity and will keep forging ahead! See you this summer!"

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