Women of Trachis
Translated by C.K. Williams and Gregory W. Dickerson
Directed and adapted by Javen Tanner
In September, The Classical Greek Theatre Festival presented by Westminster College will mount and tour a new production of Sophocles’ tragic masterpiece Women of Trachis, a play rarely read and infrequently seen in performance. Here is a brief synopsis of the play’s plot:
Because of her beauty, Deianira, the wife of Herakles, had been sought by many suitors. One of these, the centaur Nessos, was killed by Herakles, who then claimed her as his bride. Years later she and her children are exiles in Trachis because of an act of violence by Herakles. Alone now for over a year, she wonders what has become of Herakles and sends her son Hyllos to find out. News arrives that he has conquered the city of king Eurytas in Euboia, and captives arrive from that sack, including Iole, the king’s daughter. Deianeira learns from Lichas that Herakles has sacked the city, not because he had been insulted, but because he wanted the king’s daughter. In jealous despair, she sends Herakles a robe anointed with blood from the centaur’s wound, which turns out not to be the love charm she thought, but an incurable poison. Hyllos brings news of what the robe has done to Herakles, and devastated, Deianeira kills herself with a sword. Herakles is brought onstage in great pain, cursing his wife and asking Hyllos to marry Iole and then to light the funeral pyre that will put him out of his agony. — Storey & Allen
Women of Trachis is directed and adapted by Javen Tanner, and features an American translation by the poet C.K. Williams and classicist Gregory W. Dickerson. The set design was created by Spencer Brown, and costumes were designed and built by Andrea Davenport. The production uses character and neutral masks, and medieval-inspired costumes and music further set a unique tone for this Greek classic.