Quote of the Day: Pious words and idle hands bring in no breakfast. Peasant in Electra by Euripedes
Give me a host who’s poor but friendly rather than a rich one. Orestes
What a treat to have Ten Thousand Things Theater company travel Up North to perform in my neck of the woods. I had the pleasure of watching their dynamic performance at the old elementary school (now the city hall) in Emily, MN.
The old gym seemed to be an ideal setting for this play of betrayal, violence and revenge. The red circle on the floor where once opposing teams jumped for control of the ball was the focal point for the action of Electra that played out just feet in front of us. The company always performs in the round, which is actually a square with four corners, but round in the sense of surrounding, and being surrounded by, the audience. It is an up close, intimate, performance that can at first seem a little uncomfortable. I was conscious of my feet and making sure I didn’t extend my legs into the acting space, lest I trip one of the actors. I was aware of the audience members around me and across from me, noticing their reactions to the play. You can see every line and movement of the actors from every angle. Thomasina Petrus (who plays various characters in the chorus, and sings divinely) said, “I am more aware of my body and that our whole selves are acting, from every angle.” You can’t help but be engaged in a performance by Ten Thousand Things. “Even their breathing is part of the show,” said my friend Jill who attended this performance with me.
Electra (Audrey Park) and her brother Orestes (Kurt Kwan) have been banished from their kingdom after their mother has their father killed and marries another man. Electra can’t get over the pain of rejection and betrayal and believes she is living a miserable life because of it. After many years, her brother finds her, and they plot to kill their mother. This is a Greek tragedy, so we have the Gods weighing in, and lots of symbolism. What is so amazing about Ten Thousand Things is that they can create these worlds and images with minimal props and sets; a yoke with two cloth sacks, a stick, and wonderful acting.
In the post-show discussion, the actors asked the audience questions. Kurt Kwan asked if we thought that Orestes was justified in killing his father’s murderer. We had a discussion on crimes of passion, revenge, and justification. When you look at what happens to the characters in the end, you wonder what would happen if they instead showed mercy and forgiveness and stopped blaming everyone else for their misery.
Mikell Sapp plays the Farmer who marries Electra to basically hide her away from her kingdom. Rocardo Vazquez plays Orestes’ companion Plades. Thomasina Petrus, Karen Wiese-Thompson, and Michelle Barber play various characters including the Gods, the Queen, an old woman, and the Furies or Fates. Rebecca Novick directs this exceptional performance. Peter Vitale is Sound and Music Director playing songs and atmospheric sounds throughout the performance. Trevor Bowen designed some really outstanding costumes by piecing together fabrics, like different jeans/shirts to make a cape, a hoodie that has other sweatshirt materials sewn together, strips of fabric over football shoulder pads for the Gods, and layers on all the pieces, like “the coat of many colors” that Dolly Parton sings about.
You have two more opportunities to see this performance Up North: Oct. 4, at Northland High School in Remer, at 6:30, and Oct. 5, at Salem Lutheran Church in Longville, MN at 7:00. They perform at various venues throughout Minnesota, including shelters and community shelters, and sometimes jails. Some of the performances are free, and others have a minimal charge. This show runs 75 minutes, no intermission. Please visit the website for Ten Thousand Things Theater for their schedule, playing through Nov. 5, 2017.
Thanks, Terese and Screen Porch Productions and those who support Ten Thousand Things Theater for bringing this wonderful, professional theater experience to us Up North. As I drove home through the woods and fog, I reflected on the themes of the play and our need for the world to stop the violence and work together to live in peace.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: Have you ever wished ill on someone who has wronged you?