Ashley Scallon and Michael Fallon appear in the Southern Oregon University Department of Theatre Arts' production of Tom Stoppard's 'Arcadia.' - Photo by Ezra Severin

War and disorder

The first two plays on the slate for Southern Oregon University's 2007-2008 Theatre Arts Season are "Women of War, directed by James Edmondson of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and "Arcadia," directed by Professor Dennis Smith of SOU's Theatre Arts Department.
"Women of War" is an adaptation written by Hilary Tate, formerly of OSF, and Edmondson, of Euripides' "Iphigenia at Aulis" and "The Trojan Women.".

"Women of War" will be presented at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9-10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, in the university's Off Center Stage on the SOU campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

This fusion of Euripides' works examines the impact of war from a woman's perspective. In the play, women who are confined in an environment of war in the 21st century evoke the 2,400-year-old sentiments expressed by Euripides in a performance that bonds them in time.

"The Trojan Women" was first performed in 415 B.C. It recounts the fates of the women of Troy after their husbands have been killed and the city has been sacked. It was the third play in a trilogy of tragedies about the Trojan War, but its plot was not connected with the other two.

"Iphigenia at Aulis" is set at the beginning of the war instead of its end. The goddess Artemis has demanded the sacrifice of Iphigenia, Agamemnon's daughter, in exchange for fair winds to carry his troops over the sea to Troy. Agamemnon has written to his wife Clytemnestra asking her to bring the girl to Aulis under the pretext that she is to marry Achilles. He later changes his mind, but fate does as it will.

"Women of War" is an anti-war play that asks the big questions of why wars start and whether there are any victors when they have ended. Guest director James Edmondson says he has colleagues who have witnessed South American gatherings on behalf of the "disappeared," and the fact influenced his decision to set the play in Central America.

"The sacrifices made by families as well as the soldiers are apparent in this play," says Edmondson in a press release. "Neither the Greeks nor the Trojans are left whole."

All roles will be played by women. Edmondson adds that, "The male roles played by women will bring out the variety of egos involved in the conflict."

Edmondson has directed at OSF and in regional theaters since 1970. His 30th directing project was OSF's "Rabbit Hole" this spring. He continues his work as an actor at OSF.

Tickets to "Women of War" cost $17, $14 for seniors and $5 for students.

Tom Stoppard's "Arcadia" opens at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, in the Center Stage Theatre on the SOU campus.

Stoppard in the play explores questions about historical truth, science, mathematics and critical thinking in two intersecting stories about characters in two different centuries.

The Crooms' hosting of Lord Byron at their manor in 1809 has drawn the attention of researchers from the present. The characters, past and present, debate literary criticism, scientific discoveries and mathematics in the school room of Sidley Park, a country estate that all of them have known.

Stoppard's trademark wordplay is evident throughout the comedy, which mixes chaos theory with the poet Byron's love life with landscape gardening, fractals and the second law of thermodynamics.

"Arcadia" earned the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for "Best New Play" in 1993.

Director Dennis Smith says the play's themes are romance, math, the nature of good versus bad poetry, landscape gardening, and the second law of thermodynamics, but they are all under the guise of a detective story.

"Stoppard's work is always ingenious, clever and witty," says Smithin a press release. Smith calls Stoppard one of the 20th century's greatest playwrights.

"I think this play will introduce the audience to the capability of theatre to explore ideas and how these explorations help individuals discover the nature of the universe," Smith saysd. "Although it is a play about ideas, it is wrapped in a package of good humor and fun."

"Arcadia" plays at 8 p.m. Nov. 9-17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17. Tickets cost $17, $14 for seniors and $5 for students.

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