Theatre adds new flair to ‘Hecuba’

By James Herd


A 2,500 year old Eurepides classic is getting a steampunk makeover in the Baylor Theatre’s production of “Hecuba,” showing nightly until the weekend.

The show itself was truly a work of art. From the beginning to the end, the actors and actresses, including Michael Griffin as Polydorus and Nellsyn Hill as Hecuba, helped bring the performance to life through pure emotion.

Though the story contains historical elements, Waco graduate student and director Christopher Peck says the play speaks for itself.

“A little bit of backstory: the play happens in the aftermath of the Trojan War,” Peck said. So for 10 years, Troy and the Greeks have been fighting over Helen of Troy.

The Greeks win (the Trojan horse), and Troy’s kind of in shambles. So we have this character Hecuba who was the queen of Troy, her husband Priam is now dead, her children are dead, and essentially throughout the play more of her children die.”

The direction that those responsible took in setting up this play is most certainly an interesting one.

They’ve taken this historical play and applied a post-apocalyptic look to it, complete with costume designer Hannah Prochaska’s steampunk stylings.

“Chris Peck, the director, originally gave me the concept of steampunk for kind of an overall style of the show,” Prochaska said. “We looked at the setting of the play, being that it is a play post-war and we are mostly dealing with prisoners of war, and we took that as well and integrated it with elements of the steampunk that we liked, being the different mechanizations and weaponry pieces that are involved, the different masks that we could take from the steampunk style, and then we also went with a little of this post-apocalyptic look too. So you’ll see things like gas-masks, and different slip-shed weapons, and all of the costumes of the women who are slaves are very tattered and torn, and worn out.”

The lighting of the show really had an impact on the mood. When the mood was supposed to be one of sorrow and hopelessness, the lighting went down and generally focused on one or more subjects, giving the audience a clear image of who their attention should be focused on.

The lighting also helped when characters were depicted as evil, or as an anti-hero, as it darkened and lighted the stage respectively. At times, the use of smoke was applied to give an even deeper sense of hopelessness.

This show is highly recommended, because it’s not just an ordinary historical show. It’s so much more than that.

“The original production is 2,500 years old,” Peck said. “The biggest difference [between this production and the original] is if you’re going into this production expecting the traditional influences of Greek performance, then you’re not going to get it. I think we have found moments in the show where we’ve developed heightened presentational moments that kind of tip their hat to Euripides and that ancient style, but it’s still influenced, one by the Mabee Theater, which is a very intimate theater, and by 20th century conventional acting elements. It’s kind of a nice blend of a couple of very nice moments that we’ve shaped and sculpted that kind of throw back to that presentational Greek style, but it does have a contemporary feel, a modern accessibility to it, that I think a contemporary audience can get on board with.”

Hecuba is being shown at 7:30 p.m. in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Building until Sunday, closing with a 2 p.m. performance both Saturday and Sunday.

Be warned, though, it does have a mature message and content that may not be appropriate for all ages. Did I mention that there’s a lot of death?