Directed by Emilia Pazniokas & Jennifer J Hopkins
Debora Crabbe as Iphigenia
Bri Houtman as Eriphyle
Carolyn Kashner as Clytemnestra
Mary Myers as Arcas
Robert Pike as Menelaus
Matthew Sparacino as Agamemnon
Joshua Williams as Achilles
Jennifer J Hopkins
Assistant Lighting Design
Assistant Costume Design
Rachel Dixon, Kerry McGee, Raven Bonniwell & Robert Pike
Kerry McGee & Robert Pike
Box Office Manager
Iphigenia is performed at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, on the ancestral land of the Piscataway and Anacostan people.
A Note from the Playwright
I love how often classic stories are rewritten and reinterpreted. I'm a big fan of the "original" play from Euripides (I have only read it in translation(s), not in the original Greek, so the quotes feel necessary) as well as numerous very modern retellings. I was lucky enough to travel to Greece in graduate school and perform a devised version of Iphigenia in the ancient amphitheaters across the country. I became familiar with Racine's version of the play when Bridget Grace Sheaff directed a staged reading of it for WHF several years back. Versions of the story seemed to be all around me, but they were all so different. Iphigenia seemed to serve as a canvas that playwrights could use to paint their own picture.
However, what stood out to me is how little the character of Iphigenia changed in these many revisionings—AND how little we actually got to know her. She's a dutiful daughter, a sweet ingenue, a damsel-in-distress, and ultimately a self-less martyr. However, these are archetypes of characters that we see in many stories and don't offer a clearer picture of our heroine. One could argue that in Euripides's Iphigenia, Agamemnon is actually the main character. In Racine's, it's Eriphyle. (No disrespect meant to Euripides. Historically, no one writes better female characters than him. That's right, Shakespeare, I said it.)
When I decided I wanted to try my hand at this play, I wanted to find Iphigenia. I could see her hiding between the words in the different stories, and only by wading through all of the adaptations did I feel like I could coax her into the spotlight. And so, our chorus goes on the same journey through multiple tellings, trying to discover the real Iphigenia hidden in the myth. And because I think tragedy is best served with a healthy dose of comedy, it's a funny and frantic journey.
- Kerry McGee
A Note from the Dramaturg
There is no authorial consensus as to what exactly happened to Iphigenia on that fateful day on Aulis. Stasinus’ Cypria, the book of the Epic Cycle that describes the lead-up to and early actions of the Trojan War, has been lost to the sands of time. And the Cypria itself is just one author’s interpretation of an oral tradition that stretches back who-knows how long before him.
Limiting ourselves to the extant plays won’t solve this issue either. Within Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis there is debate as to the legitimacy of the final scene, when the messenger describes the miraculous transposition of a deer in Iphigenia’s place under the sacrificial knife and the girl is spirited away to Olympus. Moreover, there is another, earlier Euripides play titled Iphigenia at Tauris that tells the story of Iphigenia’s life as a priestess of Artemis among the Taurians after being spirited away from Aulis, until she is rescued by her brother Orestes, exiled from Greece as a matricide. This, in turn, is inconsistent with the fate of Orestes in Aeschylus’ Oresteia, in which he is exonerated by an Athenian jury for his crime, as well as his fate in Euripides’ Orestes, wherein he is pardoned by Apollo himself and married off to his double cousin Hermione, daughter of Helen and Menelaus.
We know so little of the stories the Greeks told that we treat everything we can find as precious, but they don’t seem to have felt the same. These were not the sacred relics of a dead civilization to them. They were everyday stories, the casual backdrop to their lives. The heroes of Greek tragedy resemble nothing so much in our culture, from the outsized nature of their adventures to their protean origins and fates, as comic book characters. The stories can be told and retold, over and over, in new configurations and themes, for decades or for thousands of years, and remain both resonant and recognizable. The details are irrelevant. What matters is the telling.
- Keith Hock
A Note from the Director
A story is a powerful thing. It can manipulate, entertain, distract, awaken, build someone up or tear them down. The characters in Kerry McGee’s new adaptation of Iphigenia all have their own unique relationship to storytelling. Some must wield a story to save their loved ones, others are tasked with the burden of delivering a story that uproots lives, and others are trapped within the stories they tell themselves. But what do you do when the ending of a story both breaks your heart and feels inevitable? Or when you don’t feel in control of your own story?
It's in those moments that you turn to the details, as our actors and designers have done for Iphigenia. These characters play in a space where small changes can transform their whole world. Moving a curtain across the stage transports our players to a new location. Donning one piece of colorful fabric changes an actor from chorus to king. A shift in light or change in musical tempo can take a moment from solemn to goofy to haunting. It’s fun and it’s invigorating, but the stakes are high – a girl’s life hangs in the balance and death seems to be at the end of every tale that’s told. Maybe if we get the details just right, we can change the ending. Or maybe not.
So why keep recounting the story, if it seems the fates have already decided the ending? Because sometimes it’s the telling of a story that is most important. And we owe it to those whom history overlooks to search for the truth and keep their stories alive.
We are so grateful to have you with us as we journey into this madcap new work by Kerry McGee. We’ve crafted the details, we’ve prepared the tale, and now it’s your turn to decide what story you’ll tell of Iphigenia, her family, and the soldiers at Aulis.
- Emilia Pazniokas
MARIA V. BISSEX (Costume Designer)
Maria is delighted to be part of the artistic team of We Happy Few for the first time on this production of Iphigenia. Maria is the classically educated, purple-haired owner of MVB Costumes based in McLean, VA, as well as being an educator, musician, avid reader, cyclist, and all-around Renaissance woman. Maria has done costume work for Folger Shakespeare Theatre, IN Series, Mosaic Theater Company, NextStop Theatre, Studio Theatre, The Theatre Lab, Washington Stage Guild, and a number of schools in Fairfax County, VA, and Montgomery County, MD. One of Maria's favorite theatrical projects was directing an original adaptation of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. mvbcostumes.com
JASON AUFDEM-BRINKE (Lighting Designer) he/him
We Happy Few Company Member and Resident Lighting Designer. Select WHF designs include: La Llorona, Desdemona, Lovers Vows, Macbeth, Winters Tale, The Tempest, Hamlet. Recent designs elsewhere Twelfth Night (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company), recalibrating (Georgetown University Dance Club), Masters of the Fighterverse (Flying V), Elvis’ Birthday Fightclub (Astro Pop Events)
DEBORA CRABBE (Iphigenia) she/her
Debora is excited to be in another We Happy Few production. She was previously seen in WHF’s The Dog in the Manger and is the voice of Loveday Brooke in the Loveday Brooke Mysteries. Other DC metro credits include: Theater J’s Gloria (Fedna), Round House Theatre’s School Girls… (Mercy), Kennedy Center TYA’s Don’t Let the Pigeon… (The Bus Driver), Keegan Theatre’s As You Like It (Rosalind), among any others. Thank You God, family, and friends, and you for coming. May you find wind today!
RACHEL DIXON (Production Manager) she/her
Rachel Dixon is the Managing Director for WHF. Her previous credits with the company include La Llorona (co-director and production manager) and Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief (stage manager). She is a recent graduate from George Mason University, where she received a BFA in Theater Performance and a minor in psychology. In the past, she has been a teaching artist with Arena Stage's Voices of Now program, and is thrilled to continue her artistic journey with We Happy Few as their managing director. Credits include: Good Dogs (Class Act Players Theater Company), Twelfth Night and Machinal (Mason Players). She also served on the student leadership board and as a member of the Mason Improv Association.
JENNIFER J. HOPKINS (Director, Choreographer) she/her
After living in NYC for several years, working as a performer on everything from original plays to a national tour, she now calls the DC theatre community her home. Here she has been fortunate to work with several award-winning companies including The Folger, Constellation, Rorschach, Taffety Punk, Longacre Lea, Keegan...and We Happy Few! In addition she has been an educator both in the US and abroad teaching Shakespeare and Musical Theatre workshops to students at Cambridge University in England, and as a founding instructor of The Berridge Conservatory in Normandy, France. Her direction and choreography credits include eleven shows over six summers with Festival 56 in Illinois, five shows for Providence College in Rhode Island, last Fall's Carrie at Catholic University, two productions in Michigan and an award-winning production of Mamma Mia! for Ozark Actors Theatre in Missouri. Jennifer most recently directed and choreographed A Chorus Line for George Washington Univerity where she is currently a Visiting Professor. Additionally, she serves as the Head of the Musical Theatre Department at the Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Jennifer holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster Conservatory and an MFA from George Washington University and Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting.
BRI HOUTMAN (Eriphyle) they/she
Bri is a recently graduated actor based in the DMV area who is thrilled to be performing in their first show with We Happy Few! They received their B.A. from the George Washington University in theater and criminal justice. Since graduating, she has acted with Endangered Species Theater Project: Hamlet (Ophelia) & Becky’s New Car (Kenni), with Rorschach Theater: Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy, Really (Lucy Westenra) and Angel Number Nine (Daniel) coming this July, and with Faction of Fools: Love Like Tuesday (Jill). They are elated to be working again with We Happy Few as Pudding in Kill the Ripper this October.
CAMILLE KASHAKA (Assistant Lighting Designer) she/her/hers
Currently serves as Executive Director of Motor House in Baltimore. In addition to her work as an arts manager, Camille is also a lighting designer. She has been privileged to design for a number of organizations including Freshh Inc Theatre Company, Astro Pop Events, and JAMtheRevue and is thrilled to be joining We Happy Few for the first time as Assistant Lighting Designer.
CAROLYN KASHNER (Clytemnestra, Voice of Artemis) she/her
We Happy Few Productions debut. Baltimore Center Stage: Pride and Prejudice. Signature Theatre: Kid Victory (u/s). Olney Theatre Center: Witness for the Prosecution. The HUB Theatre: American Spies and Other Homegrown Fables, The Late Wedding, Leto Legend, Failure: A Love Story (Helen Hayes nomination - Best Supporting Actress in a Play). Constellation Theatre Company: Incognito (u/s). Adventure Theatre MTC: Fantastagirl and the Math Monster. The Keegan Theatre: What We're Up Against, National Pastime, Rent, Man of La Mancha. Theatre Alliance: The Wonderful World of Dissocia. 1st Stage: Harvey, The Last 5 Years. Spooky Action Theatre: The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs, Happy Hour. Prologue Theatre: Grand Concourse.carolynkashner.com
KERRY MCGEE (Playwright, Producer, Props Designer) she/her
Kerry is the Artistic Director and Marketing Director for WHF. Kerry has directed La Llorona, Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief, Lovers' Vows, Treasure Island, Hamlet Project: A Rock 'n' Roll Mixtape, Henry V and Chalk for WHF and acted in The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, Pericles, Dracula, A Midnight Dreary, and The Winter's Tale. Additionally, Kerry has directed and adapted the Loveday Brooke series for WHF, and has designed the packages for the Sherlock and Poe audio experiences. Other DC credits: Visions of Love (Pointless Theatre), Peepshow; Beertown; Toast (dog & pony dc), and Love's LaBeers Lost (LiveArtDC). Kerry worked in Richmond for many years, where she received awards for her work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Kerry received her MFA in Theatre Pedagogy from VCU.
MARY MYERS (Arcas) she/her
Mary is an actor and Teaching Artist who has been working in DC for more than a decade. We Happy Few premiere! Most recently, she understudied Jennifer, Who Is Leaving at Round House Theatre. Select credits: Faction of Fools: Love Like Tuesday; NextStop Theatre Company: 45 Plays for 45 Presidents (Helen Hayes Award: Supporting Actress); Constellation Theatre Company: Melancholy Play (Helen Hayes Nomination: Ensemble); Pointless Theatre Company: Rhinocéros! and King Ubu; 4615 Theatre Company: Museum 2040; Adventure Theatre: The Velveteen Rabbit; Nu Sass Productions (Company Member): Can't Pay, Won't Pay! and Marx in Soho (Helen Hayes Nomination: Lead Actress). She also performed Marx in Soho at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. BA in Theatre: The College of William & Mary; Physical Theatre Intensive: St. Mary's University in Twickenham, England. marymyersactor.com
PAIGE O'MALLEY (Puppet Designer) she/her
Paige is a company member of We Happy Few and has worked on numerous prior projects including, Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief (title character); Frankenstein (devisor, performer, designer, puppeteer); and Treasure Island (devisor, performer, designer, songwriter). She has also voiced roles in all of the WHF Audio Dramas, currently available for at-home download (Poe, Loveday, & Sherlock). Paige works by day as an audiobook narrator for the Library of Congress, a puppeteer for the DC Public School system, and a rep for Bookshop.org. For more on Paige’s work visit: www.paigeomalley.com
Emilia is an Artistic Associate with We Happy Few. She has worked in a variety of roles with WHF since 2018, including production assistant for Pericles and Count of Monte Cristo, producer and actor for the audio detective plays, and assistant director for Macbeth and Desdemona: A Play about a Handkerchief. Emilia works in arts education in DC, sings with the group Six Degree Singers, and is a graduate of the McCarter Theater internship program and Kenyon College.
ROBERT PIKE (Menelaus, Sound Designer, Props Designer) he/him/his
Robert is thrilled to return onstage with the We Happy Few crew! A DMV-based theatre artist, he has been seen onstage with Rorschach Theatre, NextStop Theatre, Ally Theatre Company, and the Washington National Opera among others. His sound designs have been heard at Imagination Stage, Washington Stage Guild, and the Catholic University of America (CUA) among others. We Happy Few stage credits include acting and sound designing Henry V and Chalk, sound designing The Dog in the Manger, and directing Dracula and Frankenstein. He is one of the sound designers for We Happy Few’s audio plays and the voice of Mr. Dyer in the Loveday Brooke series. He is a proud graduate of CUA’s Drama Department (BA 2014) and Georgetown University’s MA in English Literature Program (2023). www.robert-pike.com
JON REYNOLDS (Set Designer) he/him
Jon is an actor, deviser, designer, and playwright born and raised in the Washington DC area. For We Happy Few he has designed the sets for Lovers’ Vows, Treasure Island and Dracula and the creature design for Frankenstein. He has performed in the WHF productions of Chalk, Pericles, Dracula, and A Midnight Dreary. He holds a BA in Communication and Theatre Arts from McDaniel College.
MATTHEW SPARACINO (Agamemnon) he/him
Matthew is making his We Happy Few debut! He last appeared as Bill Starbuck in 1st Stage's production of The Rainmaker, which was up for this year’s Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Production of a Play. Other select credits include Secret Things, The Farnsworth Invention [HHA nomination - Best Ensemble in a Play] and Lobby Hero (1st Stage); Suddenly Last Summer, A Misanthrope, and Illyria (Avant Bard); Six Degrees of Separation (Keegan); Richard II, Dracula, and Merchant of Venice (Chesapeake Shakespeare); The Winter’s Tale and Antony & Cleopatra (Folger); and Fever/Dream (Woolly Mammoth). A UMD graduate and DMV native, Matt is also a proud company member of Pointless Theatre, with whom he has collaborated on roughly a dozen productions, including Don Cristóbal, .d0t:: , Doctor Caligari, Hugo Ball and A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular. www.matthewsparacino.com
MAKENZI WENTLA (Stage Manager) she/her/hers
Makenzi is an educator and technician who works in the DMV area, and is a Michigan Technological University graduate with a BS in Theatre and Entertainment Technology. She has previously worked with We Happy Few on Desdemona a Play about a Handkerchief and La Llorona as a stage manager, as well as with the Discovery Theatre on Seasons of Light as a stage manager. She is excited to work on Kill The Ripper with We Happy Few as the stage manager this coming October. Enjoy the show!
JOSHUA WILLIAMS (Achilles, Fight Captain) he/him/his
Josh is an actor, director, educator, and choreographer based in Washington D.C. He is excited to perform with We Happy Few for the first time. Select recent credits: Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio/Chesapeake Shakespeare Company); Macbeth (Macbeth/Hoosier Shakespeare Festival); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Pistol, Dr. Caius/Hoosier Shakespeare Festival); Rhinoceros! (Grocer, Papillon/Pointless Theatre Co.); Henry IV Part 1 (Hotspur/Brave Spirits Theatre).
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