A national award-winning stage director is collaborating with TheatreOCU to direct this semester’s mainstage play, The House of Atreus: Part I.
Leslie Swackhammer is a guest artist this semester, teaching masterclasses and production classes as well as directing.
“I think it’s really useful for actors to get used to working with two directors and running shows in rep,” said Lance Marsh, head of performance. “I’ve done a ton of rep work as a professional actor, and I wish I would have had more experience in college before I went out in the real world and bumbled around.”
Swackhammer, an opera and theater stage director, is also the executive director of the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, an international award presented exclusively to female playwrights. She helped found the Women Playwright’s Festival in Seattle, and she develops and directs new works throughout the nation.
The House of Atreus Parts I & II will run for two weekends, March 30 to April 2 and April 7-9.
Each part will be presented on a separate evening, Part I being directed by Swackhammer and Part 2 directed by Marsh.
“Atreus is really four shows, but we are presenting it on two different nights, and the two evenings feel different so it made sense for us to have two directors,” Marsh said.
The play follows the plot of the first book of the Oresteia trilogy where “Agamemnon,” the king of Argos, comes back from fighting the Trojan war to find his adulterous wife seeking revenge for her murdered daughter “Iphigenia.”
“The play itself is really the original dysfunctional family story. Every play that is about a dysfunctional family since then came from this show,” Marsh said.
Students involved in the production are enjoying the opportunity to work with two distinct directors.
“Leslie has a very organic and academic approach to directing,” said Franny Harms, acting junior. “She started off with working towards building the ensemble whereas Lance usually starts with text and table-work. Both of them are very different people but working towards the same target, so it’s been super valuable to experience that.”