Women of Troy at Victoria Baths

It is known that the first appearances of Theatre in history occurs in Ancient Greece through the Greek Chorus, where actors would use nothing but their own skills to teach their audiences about the gods at festivals and other performances. Year 10 have been reflecting this recently in their scripted work in which they, in groups, devised work using extracts from `The Women of Troy` by Euripides.

The tragedy details the events unravelling in Troy after the end of the Trojan War when all the men had been slaughtered by the Greek soldiers. Following the stories of the women left behind as they wait for news of their fate, the play introduces the audiences to the lives of three women in particular: Hecuba, Queen of Troy; Cassandra, Hecuba’s daughter who has the gift of the prophecy but has been driven mad by it; and Andromache, Hecuba’s daughter in law who’s husband and son are murdered.

The students’ work was inspired by practitioner Stephen Berkoff who was greatly influenced by the conventions of the Greek chorus, using synchronised movement and choral speaking techniques to create unusual, grotesque images for the audience, forcing them to see the dark sides of reality – rather fitting for the subject of their scripts.

In contrast to their normal performances however, this year, Year 10 were invited to perform their pieces at Victoria Baths, as part of their `Weekend of Words`. They arrived in costume on Sunday 9th June, accompanied by a selection of ropes, frames and boxes needed for their props, and immediately got to rehearsing for the first time in their performance space for the day: the Turkish Restroom. They started performing at noon, going in series through the various groups, acting in front of the Baths’ marvellous stained-glass windows as visitors wandered in and out as they toured the events, often staying to watch. After performing each piece once, the students and teachers split off with their families to go and see the rest of the events.

Year 10 also performed their extracts at 7 in an evening performance at the school to families. Along with their previous scripts, they collaborated, all of them in one single piece – the play was adapted by Don Taylor and he wrote a post-script in response to it in which he expressed his feelings of how all that happened in Troy was not a single occurrence but something that has been and will be repeated again and again in any time, any place. In one line, at the very end, he says “knowing their next reunion is pencilled, only who will destroy is still uncertain, and what particular Troy”. The evening was overall a massive success – well done and congratulations to all performers and a special thanks to Mrs Ryan and Mrs Marler for their help and support.

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