Glass Mind Theatre's THE PRETTIES Opens 8/7
Furies scream, goddesses judge, and dead girls ponder in Ann Turiano's THE PRETTIES, an adaptation of Aeschylus' blood-soaked trilogy The Oresteia. The voices of Clytemnestra, Cassandra, Electra and other women frame the journey of Orestes as he seeks revenge for the murder of his father, Agamemnon, by his mother. This adaptation captures and reinvents the entire Greek trilogy in one evening, and still gets you home way before midnight.
"I set out to answer all of these philosophical questions around justice, but the idea itself lives inside of these characters," says first-time playwright Turiano. "One day the voices of the women in the play started to pipe up and they wouldn't stop. They were so insistent! There were so many things they didn't get to say in the other versions and this became their chance. So I looked at their individual storylines and tried to arrange them to express time in the language of memory and dreams." This also gave Turiano her inspiration for THE PRETTIES as a title.
"I came from thinking about how society views women in general, how history views females based on their looks (see: Helen), and how the furies represent something so extreme as to be grotesque," Turiano says.
"I think it's absolutely masterfully written," says Director and Glass Mind's Managing Director Lynn Morton of Turiano's script.
Morton has had a penchant for Greek theatre since her theatre classes in high school. She praises Turiano's entwining of heightened and modern language, her combination of poetry and prose. "I think that combination is really reflective of what Greek theatre was originally," Morton says. "The chorus originally sang, everything the chorus did was in poetry and verse and she hasn't necessarily changed that but she has brought a more modern sensibility to those more classic elements"
The cast organically turned out to be all women except one, Sam Hayder, who plays Orestes. While not intentional at first, Morton feels this supports Turiano's script and its take on the original story. Morton describes her directorial technique as an "ensemble first" approach.
"I allow the actors to really dictate their choices and how they move. I do this because it creates a more naturalistic and interesting approach to theatre. My job as a director is to tell them when they're missing impulses or opportunities as an actor."
?The company request that potential audience members to note that this show address the topics of sexual assault and violence, and includes nudity and violence onstage.?
"We're really trying to be straightforward with our approach to sex and violence in this show. Most of the time, in Greek theatre, none of the violence happens onstage," she says. "There are some choices dealing with the nature of relationships that may be uncomfortable for people, because we're not shying away from anything with several choices about the nature of the relationships." But discomfort isn't necessarily a negative quality, according to Morton. "If it does make people uncomfortable, it's because you're challenging their viewpoint on the world. And that's the role of theatre in the larger sense."
This gels perfectly with Turiano's ideal situation for an audience member.
"I would love it if this play made people, however briefly, consider their own view of the universe. The themes therein--responsibility, mourning, judgment, relationship to the gods--are alive for this family in a very extreme way. But where do we meet them in our own lives? What are our limits and how do we struggle to negotiate them? In a best case scenario, our audiences will connect with one of these characters and reconsider the way that history has viewed them."
Turiano certainly seems to have shared some of Morton's affinity for Greek theatre. "Greek theatre is nothing if not badass," Turiano says. "Battles! Axes! Lots of blood!"
Glass Mind is a grateful recipient of The Bad Oracle's Actors Need a Living (A.N.A.L.) Fund for THE PRETTIES. The Fund allots a $500 to for actor stipends for one show every six months. Glass Mind and THE PRETTIES are the first ever recipients of The Fund.
THE PRETTIES haunts the CopyCat Building (1511 Guilford Ave, #B303). The play will run from August 7-23, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8, and Sunday shows at 4. Visit www.glassmindtheatre.com or call (443) 475-0223 to order tickets. Join the company in talking about the play on Twitter (@GlassMindThtr), by using the hashtag #theprettiesplay. Glass Mind closes out SEASON 5: BOUND with THE PRETTIES.