An Epic Performance – Iphigenia at Aulis

An Epic Performance – Iphigenia at Aulis

At the end of last term, we were transported to an airport departure lounge as pupils from Fourth Year to Upper Sixth Form performed in Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides. Taking the ancient tale and putting it into a contemporary setting, the cast did a phenomenal job telling the story of an ambitious general seeking a military victory, and the sacrifice he is willing to make in order to achieve it. Written at a time when war was a constant and honour was heralded as the most important thing, Iphigenia at Aulis still holds relevance today. Don Taylor, whose translation we used, notes that the “central metaphor is as telling now as it was when [Euripides] first set pen to papyrus. In all wars the old sacrifice the young to preserve their own power, and in far too many the young are willing participants in their own destruction.”

Taking on such a weighty tale with a complex moral question at its heart is no easy feat, but our incredible cast rose to the challenge, working tirelessly to understand the motivations of their characters, the situations they found themselves in, and the decisions they had to make. Oh and they had to grapple with a text from the ancient world, the convention of a Greek chorus and my giddy delight at having found yet another ‘weepy’ song, almost on a weekly basis. This was not a simple production, and yet what they managed to achieve looked effortless. I am so grateful to the cast for their tenacity, curiosity, and willingness to dive headfirst into the show and for the amazing job they did with it. Every rehearsal was a joy, with someone always laughing about something, and as we were dealing with such a dark and tragic story, these moments of light were very much appreciated. Every single member of the cast did a fantastic job, but a big shout out must go to Tristan, Max, Anna, Sophie P and Sam who had to learn some decidedly epic passages of text. Not only did they learn them perfectly, but they also found the nuance and truth behind every word. I was in awe watching them, and I know many of you were too!

A big thank you also has to go to the backstage team who, as ever, made everything run smoothly. Despite my worst nightmare coming true on opening night (the opening scene was not meant to be in the dark- that’s technology for you, simply choosing not to work when it needed to!) the team stayed calm in the crisis, reset, and carried on like true professionals. A special thank you to Rosie in Fifth Year; this was her third time calling a show (which essentially means she was running the whole thing) and once again she tackled it like someone who has been doing it for decades. Bravo!

My favourite thing about working on a production at Caterham is the inevitability of that moment when the pupils astound me. It might be during a rehearsal, when a group of eight individuals suddenly perfect a choral moment, working seamlessly as one entity; or after a long day when an aspiring technician asks if she can help tidy away some cables, just to be helpful; or when I’m sat at the back of the Humphreys, watching the cast cheer and hug as they leave after their final bow. Whenever it might happen, and it will probably happen more than once, I am blown away by what these young people can do.  Congratulations to the cast & crew of Iphigenia at Aulis– what a triumph.

Ms Guttner

Director of Drama


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