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A classic story from a new perspective: ASU Theatre kicks off season with unique portrayal of Greek myth

People acting in a play on a stage.

Ashley Anne Njoki Harris (front, seated) plays the role of "Child" in ASU Theatre's production of "Iphigenia, King’s Child,” premiering Friday, Sept. 22. Photo by Abigail Wilt

September 21, 2023

ASU Theatre will kick off its 2023–24 season with an adaptation of the classical Greek tragedyIphigenia, King’s Child," by Dutch playwright Pauline Mol, on Friday, Sept. 22. The adaptation is intended for middle school- and high school-aged audiences, and is designed to give youth a chance to think about moral ambiguity and serious stakes.

“The child is being used as a symbol to unite the country. She will be sacrificed to bring the wind back,” said Kristin Hunt, assistant director of theater, associate professor and director of the play. “Most versions focus on the parents and their turmoil. This version is told from the point of view of the child as she thinks about why things are weird and what’s really happening, and as she comes to understand and think about her responsibility to society and family.”

Ashley Anne Njoki Harris, who plays the role of “Child,” was tasked with embodying childhood for the audience. Harris is a communications major and theater minor. She said she uses giggling, smiling and joking to portray childlike naivete during scenes of heightened emotion. Harris’ performance is an important part of the show’s message concerning a child’s place in society.

“I hope that this specific role allows people not to see being childish as an inherently negative thing,” Harris said. “A lot of the time, especially in the show, there’s a lot of negativity placed on being childlike when there doesn’t need to be. I think being a child is one of the best things you could ever be.” 

The production’s musicians use found objects to create soundscapes throughout the show — items like a handsaw, coins and sandpaper. The sounds emphasize moments of tension, excitement and sadness. 

“I think the way we’ve been allowed to play and make discoveries with what the show means to us and how we can truly express the material is going to make it a powerful piece,” said Axel Adams, one of the show’s musicians.

In this version, some of the actors speak Spanish in different scenes. The language puts a focus on the ways the actors express their characters and emotion through tone. Fredy Gonzalez, a junior at ASU, plays the role of Clytemnestra. Gonzalez is a native Spanish speaker and expressed excitement about speaking Spanish in the show.

“I love that I get to speak Spanish in the show, because it’s my native language,” Gonzalez said. “I say the lines differently and I speak differently when I’m speaking Spanish. It adds different emotions and different stakes to it.”

The cast and crew of “Iphigenia, King’s Child” have been working hard to bring this work to the stage.

“We’ve put a heavy focus on building ourselves as an ensemble and creating visual moments that really stand out and represent some of the emotions and themes that are going on in the world and in the characters,” said Ty Klassen, an ASU senior who plays Menelaus.

“We have a really good group of people who are involved in this production, and I’m excited for people to see it.”

“Iphigenia, King’s Child” will be playing in the ASU Lyceum Theater from Sept. 22 to Oct. 1. Tickets are available online through the Herberger Institute Box Office

“Come see the show! Come see the show — in all caps!” said Austin Adelman, a senior playing the role of King Agamemnon.

“I think it’s going to be something very special that hasn’t been at ASU in a while.” 

Written by Abigail Wilt

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