The Penelopiad: Ancient Characters Experience Struggles Of Modern World

This past week, Dana Hall had two performances of its high school 2017 fall play called The Penelopiad. For this play, playwright Margaret creates a version that is multifaceted and filled with a mixture of modern and ancient themes. Simply summarized by play director Ms. Fenstermaker, “The play is about Penelope’s perspective of what happened during several episodes of The Iliad and The Odyssey.”

Seeing as the play is supposed to show Penelope and her interactions in the 2017 world, I was interested in getting some different perspectives on what real-world issues she encounters in the play, and what the audience’s response was. Sophomore Greta Gordon who played Tanis, one of the 12 maids, had some reflections for me. Greta told me about how the play tried to shed light on issues of sexual assault and women‘s rights, which are especially relevant in 2017. As an actress, she could feel from the stage that, “The audience felt the gravity of this theme and reacted to it accordingly.”

Ms. Fenstermaker felt a very positive reaction from the audience to these somewhat challenging themes as well. She explained to me that sometimes people are hesitant to delve into these topics because there is just so much you can show. She thought however that the play’s portrayal evoked very positive responses from the community and that she got “many emails and remarks about how moved they were and positively fired up” they were about the ever-relevant issues shown in the performance.

The Penelopiad also had some exciting costume and set choices. Greta Gordon shared with me some more of her thoughts on this, saying, “The set was super cool and intricate. It was fun to act on, and it really informed our performance. The costumes were functional but also a nice blend of modern and ancient times to go along with the play.”

Coming up, people can look forward to a student-directed play from seniors Zoe Lillis and Ashley Roh!

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