from ‘The Trojan women’ and ‘Helen’ from Euripides
adaptation Camilla Mattiuzzo
tutor Antonio Latella and Linda Dalisi
direction assistant Camilla Mattiuzzo
direction Antonio Latella
characters and interpreters
Helen Barbara Chichiarelli
Hecuba Giuliana Vigogna
Cassandra Barbara Mattavelli
Astyanax Gianpaolo Pasqualino
Menelaus Ludovico Fededegni
Helen Coro di tutte le donne
Teucer Isacco Venturini
Old woman and Servant Alessandro Bay Rossi
Theonoe Gianpaolo Pasqualino
Theoclymenus Alexis Aliosha Massine
Messenger Gianpaolo Pasqualino
Dioscuri Isacco Venturini and Alessandro Bay Rossi
and with Christian La Rosa, Leonardo Lidi, Andrea Sorrentino, Emanuele Turetta
project playwrights Federico Bellini and Linda Dalisi
production Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
with the support of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena
Duration 1h 45′
Played in Italian with English subtitles
in the frame of the project “At the Prospero’s School. Actors in the global net”
Helen was the daughter of Leda and Tyndareus, king of Sparta. However, legend has it that her real father was Zeus who, having transformed into a swan, seduced Leda on the shores of the Eurotas river. Even before her birth, Helen was already connected to eros and seduction. It’s no coincidence that, once born, she became the emblem of beauty and overwhelming love – desired by men and hated by women.
The various narratives of Helen’s myth (taken from her husband Menelaus’ palace by Paris as a reward for favouring Aphrodite with the golden apple, declaring her the winner of a dispute with Hera and Athena about which goddess was most beautiful) contain contradicting interpretations dating back to ancient times: on one hand, the depiction of Helen as responsible for the disasters tied to the Trojan war, on the other hand, an attempt to rid her of this responsibility.
In his tragedy, dated 412 B.C., Euripides presents a singular, to say the least, version of the events, drawing inspiration from the more ancient version by the Sicilian poet Stesichorus. Euripides’ Helen is a new, surprising character, whose vicissitudes have nothing to do with the “fame” that had preceded her up until that point. In the long explicative prologue, she herself tells the audience that she has never betrayed her husband Menelaus. Won by Paris in a beauty contest, she is however denied to him by Hera, who is furious at her own defeat. In her place, Paris is given a phantom in her likeness, made from the sky’s air.
The real Helen is brought to Egypt and entrusted to the kind king Proteus, who is meant to keep her safe until the end of the war. However, Proteus dies and his successor, his son Theoclymenus, falls in love with Helen and wants to marry her at all costs. She, loyal in body and mind to Menelaus, spends her days curled up in the sacred and inviolable space on the tomb of the king, waiting for something.
Can two testimonies so different, two versions of the events so radical and opposing, coexist in a single representation? If we attribute both points of view to Helen, the vicissitude runs the risk of appearing paradoxical. Unless… she herself isn’t meant to be a paradoxical character, divided, torn, almost schizophrenic, who continuously plays at being herself and the opposite of herself, presenting a truth that is a negation of the previous truth each time. And it’s in this vortex of continuously new possibilities that Helen fulfils her journey towards perfection, moulding her identity based on the interlocutor’s desire, thus creating a reality wherein fiction is at the basis of existence.