‘Electra: A Modern Gothic’, based off the Greek tragedy by Sophocles, marked the beginning of the Kaleidoscope Festival with its student performance Tuesday.
The play was shown Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the University Union MPR. There was also a special sold-out performance Thursday at 12:30 p.m. for high school students. After the performances, cast and crew had a discussion with audience members. The play was written by David Skeele, SRU theatre professor and directed by Gordon R. Phetteplace, SRU associate professor of theatre and department chair.
The story of Electra focuses on the revenge sought by Electra and her brother, Orestes, against their mother and stepfather, Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, for the murder of their father, Agamemnon.
Electra, originally a poetically-written tragedy was replaced with hillbilly dialect in a rural Americana setting. Skeele said it would be a challenge for himself as a writer and wanted to see what would happen with the interesting use of language.
“I’ve never written anything like it. I’ve spent the last few years writing horror plays. I’ve never tried doing anything like this,” Skeele said.
He was always interested in the play but wanted to rethink the story in a rural Americana setting when he wrote it for Phetteplace, Skeele said.
“I was thinking endless cycles of revenge… where does this happen? Hatfield and McCoy,” Skeele decided.
“What he’s done is taken Sophocles’ plotline and he’s written his own play,” director Gordon Phetteplace said.
When audience members mentioned they would like to see more added to the story in the Wednesday night discussion, Phetteplace added, “I want David to write two other plays to go with this. An American trilogy would be really interesting.”
The play also includes live folk music that goes underneath points in the story.
“The music wasn’t in the script. The music I added,” Phetteplace explained.
Ultimately, both Skeele and Phetteplace decided the music really added to the feeling of the play.
The cast of theatre majors includes: Rachel Lambert as Cora, Malic Williams as the Reverend, Joe Karl as Orestes, Carina Iannarelli as Electra, Amber Mikec as Chrysothemis, Cindy Brennan as Clytemnestra, and Ethan Rochow as Aegisthus.
The cast practiced the play in class since Jan. and were excited to finally have an audience, according to theatre and communication major, Carina Iannarelli.
“It’s a completely original play from someone we know. If this gets published in any way, we are going to be the original cast,” Iannarelli said.
Students will travel to Scotland this summer to perform the play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. This year the 16 students involved will travel and be responsible for packing, transporting, and producing the show. At the festival, students will premiere ‘Electra’ on the international level at Venue 45.
The production is supported by: Colleen Reilly, assistant professor of theatre and Kaleidoscope director, as company manager, Margaret Rial as stage manager, Becca McGann as assistant stage manager, Kyle Andreas as scenic designer and lead musician, Karl Wiltraut as lighting designer, Alex Barnhart as sound design and lead guitar/banjo, Kayla Boulton as costume designer, Jina Pounds as make-up and gore designer, Jack Libengood as technical director, and Samantha Kuchta as public relations coordinator and rhythm guitar. Dr. Deb Cohen, professor of Spanish, plays bass in the band, and director Gordon R. Phetteplace plays harmonica.