The Children of Herakles, Written by Euripides, Directed by Peter Sellars, Costumes by Brooke Stanton
World Tours 2002 & 2003: Ruhr-Triennale, Germany; Romaeuropa Festival, Rome; MC93 Bobigny, Paris; American Repertory Theatre, Cambridge
This was the American premiere of a 2,400 year old tragedy. The real tragedy is that Euripides’ story of refugees and when and why politicians decide to go to war is still a headline today. One of Mr. Sellars’ great talents lies in rediscovering ancient texts and making them relevant to the audiences of today. Leaders all across Europe were being elected based on their immigration policies as we performed this piece.
Our western concept of theatre was born in Greece at the same time as our concept for democracy. The Greek stage was a sounding board on which to raise questions about how we act in our society that cannot be admitted on the floor of the Senate. In this production, the actors presented their arguments in a manner reflecting both ancient Greek performances and modern day press conferences. Local refugee children performed a task on stage they had experienced in real life- they waited and watched for their fates to be decided.
I feel designing modern pieces is a delicate balancing act. When it’s done well, the audience shouldn’t be aware that there was a costume designer at all, but that the characters were dressed in clothing they would have worn. I want the overall look of the piece to look up to date, but not to appear dated when looking back at photos years later. I did extensive research for each character, downloading up to the minute info on what Hilary Clinton, Condi Rice, the U.S. Marines, and prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay were wearing. I interviewed Muslim women about their views on wearing the chador, and their thoughts on the veiling of women. I went into Islamic shops in New York City to learn how to properly construct a chador and what one should wear underneath.
Another quality of Peter’s directing style is that he continues to perfect and adjust so that the piece constantly changing. He travelled along with the tour, replacing actors & adjusting scenes during the whole run of the show. I loved being both the Designer and the costumer running the show because it meant I could adapt to any new additions along the way. It was the most satisfying production I have ever worked on, both on an artistic and political level.