An Iliad, a 100-minute retelling of the Trojan War, plays April 26-28 at 7:30 p.m., in the Black Box Theatre of the Chase Fine Arts Center on the Utah State University campus.
The play, by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, combines poetry, humor, the tale of the Trojan War and the modern world for a captivating show that grapples with humankind’s perpetual capacity for violence while exploring the beauty and profound human connection found in the midst of war. It is set in the present moment with a poet on stage throughout the show, played by actress and temporary Caine College of the Arts (CCA) instructor Tarah Flanagan and produced by Jason Spelbring, CCA professor.
“It’s a piece that is really close to my heart,” Flanagan, who first performed the one-woman show at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, said. “I’ve seen Jason’s work as a director and actor and feel like I’m in really good hands bringing the performance to USU.”
Spelbring said he and Flanagan are bringing in 16-year-old Eva Scholz-Carlson as the muse.
“She wrote original music that accompanies the story, so I thought it was really important to bring her in for this performance,” Spelbring said. “She’s a prodigy on the cello and absolutely angelic. Her music is stunning and it’s all original composition.”
Spelbring and Flanagan both marvel about how a story written thousands of years ago can still resonate so well today.
“We are used to hearing most war stories told from a male perspective,” Flanagan said. “I think it resonates in a different way to hear us grapple with our propensity for rage and violence and how the cycles are repeated over and over again filtered through a female voice. It’s interesting as a female performer to be asked to tap into that side of my own humanity and to have a vehicle to allow for the entirety of it and not just the pretty, gentle, passive parts.”
Flanagan said it is very exciting to have the show fully produced, including lighting, here at USU.
“I get to benefit from the artists who are already here,” Flanagan said. “To be in a room with Spelbring, lighting director, Bruce Duerden, and stage manager, LuAnn Baker, and bounce ideas off each other of the vision of the show is an exciting opportunity as an actor and not one I anticipated having with this show.”
This is neither a pro or anti-war piece, Flanagan said.
“An Iliad busts open all pre-conceived notions about war,” Flanagan said. “There are bonds and friendship so deep and sacred amidst war, appreciation for life and love amidst war, and also heroism and rage. Everything about humanity is explored to some extent in this show and I find it incredibly humbling.”
An Iliad contains depictions of violence and strong language. Children under 6 years of age, including babes in arms, will not be admitted. Children 6 and older should attend at parent’s discretion. There will be a talk back question and answer segment immediately following Friday night’s performance. Tickets for An Iliad are $13 adults, $10 seniors/youth, $8 USU faculty/staff and free for USU students with ID. For more information or tickets, contact the CCA Box Office in room L101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022, or go online to cca.usu.edu.
Writer and contact: Whitney Schulte, email@example.com, 435-797-9203