Some may wonder what the Euripides and Indigenous Heritage Month have in common. Others might ask what Chatham’s University Archives, which collects and preserves the history of the university, could have to help to connect the Athenian tragedian and campus-wide Indigenous Heritage events. Well, look no further than the Drama Department records from 1992 when students and faculty member Patricia Montley performed an adaptation of Euripides Trojan Woman set in Central America as Cortes seizes control of the Aztec empire.
According to Dr. Motley’s program notes, a Euripedes’ The Trojan Woman is one of the most frequently performed of all the classical tragedies, particularly for audiences affected by war and in eras when war is celebrated. The decision to set the play in Central America in 1992, the 500-year anniversary of Columbus’ journey to the “New World,” allowed for reflection on “the foolishness of waging aggressive war and the transience of military might.”
It is fair to surmise that Chatham students, a generally politically-minded group, were quite aware of the impact of war, aggression, and gender-based power dynamics at play. The 1992 yearbook for includes four pages of reflection on current affairs, which included the US invasion of Iraq, an attempt to topple Gorbachev, and the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme court. Click here and here to see the yearbook feature.
The production included the performance of musical works by the Native Flute Ensemble and by Brooke Medicine Eagle. It was dedicated to Phyllis Ferguson, Drama Department faculty member from 1943 to 1970.