from ‘Thyestes’ by Seneca and ‘Iphigenia at Aulis’ by Euripides
adaptation Francesca Merli
tutor Antonio Latella and Federico Bellini
direction assistant Francesca Merli
direction Antonio Latella
characters and interpreters
Atreus Leonardo Lidi
Thyestes Ludovico Fededegni
Tantalum and Plistene (Tieste’s sons) Alessandro Bay Rossi and Isacco Venturini
Agamemnon Leonardo Lidi
Menelaus Ludovico Fededegni
Old man Alessandro Bay Rossi
Two women choir Mariasilvia Greco and Barbara Mattavelli
Clytemnestra Ilaria Matilde Vigna
Oreste Christian La Rosa
Iphigenia Federica Rosellini
Achilles Alexis Aliosha Massine
Messengers Isacco Venturini and Alessandro Bay Rossi
and with Barbara Chichiarelli, Marta Cortellazzo Wiel, Gianpaolo Pasqualino, Andrea Sorrentino, Emanuele Turetta, Giuliana Vigogna
project playwrights Federico Bellini and Linda Dalisi
production Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione
with the support of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena
Duration 1h 40′
Played in Italian with English subtitles
in the frame of the project “At the Prospero’s School. Actors in the global net”
Iphigenia in Aulis
Two brothers, Atreus and Thyestes, battle for the control of the kingdom. Atreus fears that his brother might usurp it. To avoid this once and for all, he decides to organise a macabre banquet: he murders his brother’s children and serves them to him as a meal. Thyestes, unaware, eats his own offspring and, as revenge, curses his brother and his future descendants: Agamemnon and Menelaus.
A generation passes. We are now in the Aulis harbour. The Greek fleet is about to sail towards Troy under the command of king Agamemnon. The goddess Artemis stops the fleet by stilling the winds.
The only way to appease the goddess’ wrath is to sacrifice Iphigenia, the much-beloved daughter of the king. To carry out the evil plan, the king sends a letter to Argos summoning his daughter to the encampment under the guise of giving her in marriage to the hero Achilles. Agamemnon, wracked with doubt, tries to write a second message to cancel the previous one. This letter is, however, intercepted by his brother, Menelaus. The two quarrel over Iphigenia’s sacrifice, and the argument becomes personal and family-centred. Agamemnon remains set in his decision: the sacrifice is licit. However, Queen Clytemnestra discovers her husband’s heinous plan and asks Achilles for help. Iphigenia, seeing how important this war is to her father, decides to immolate herself like a heroine.
The chorus is made up of two women originating from the land of Chalcis, mothers seeking their husbands. Spectators who do not act. They are the voice of the people and of the consciousness.
A lineage, cursed through generations, clashes with its offspring. The origins of the curse are investigated through an assertive female gaze. For it is the women who decide whether to atone for their fathers’ sins, while the men, the heroes we know, are slowly crumbling. In this tragedy, Euripides uncovers the dialectic of power and poses the following issue: “How can you establish a society when the fathers are willing to kill their own children?”
This adaptation of Iphigenia in Aulis depicts the family façade – almost the inner world of a family before the catastrophe. Agamemnon constantly lives his secret: the illicit love he feels for his daughter. Does he want to sacrifice her for a military expedition? Or does he want to sacrifice her to rid himself of a burden? These heroes are fragile men, fluctuating in their emotions and decisions. They are depicted in their condition of relativity and deprived of the desire for the absolute that should characterise them. In this tragedy, everyone knows and no one does anything. The only heroic act is performed by a child, whose search for identity is transformed into a sacrifice. Iphigenia directs the execution of her sacrificial rite. Setting the rules, she saves her father by choosing to do something that will remain forever, thus seeking to obtain eternity.
“Being eternal or attempting to become it” is the most tragic and primordial act of every human being.