By Ron VandenBoom
Hecuba, the queen of Troy, has suffered the loss of most of her family in the Trojan war. She lies on the ground in anguish cursing the gods and the revenges of war.
It's a classical story of tragedy, destruction and loss, said Curtis Reddoor, who along with Mike Williams directs the Montana Actors Theatre youth production of "Trojan Women."
"I suppose it's about how war affects people who are not actually combatants," Reddoor said. "It's a very heavy drama. It's a tragedy in the classical Greek sense of the word."
Hectuba, played by veteran actress Tylyn Carmean, has watched as a 10-year war with the Greeks has finally led to the destruction of her kingdom and most of her family. What will it mean when she learns her grandson too is to be thrown from the battlements of Troy?
The play attempts to show the fruitlessness of war and its consequences on the innocent women of Troy, but it's also a show of courage and fortitude in the face of horror.
Innocent victims are a part of all wars, and Reddoor and Williams said they are trying to make the production show the timelessness of war and its victims by dressing the male members of the cast in modern military-style uniforms while leaving the women in the costumes of ancient Greece.
"I want it to look as though this sort of thing has been going on for hundreds of years," Reddoor said.
Helen of Troy, played by Cassie Stone, is also a victim in that it was her face that launched 1,000 ships and started the Trojan War.
"I'm pretty happy in my circumstance," she said about the time her character spends in Troy. "I really wasn't kidnapped. I ran away."
Helen's husband, Menalaus, the king of Sparta, fights the war to recapture his wife from Hecuba's son and kill her.
Helen's womanly wiles are equaled only by her wits and she eventually talks Menalaus into not killing her and returning with her to Greece.
Mike Williams, who is directing his first play, said he has found the experience very exciting and considered it to be a learning experience.
Reddoor, who is also directing for the first time, said he has found the experience to be aggravating at times. "But it's very fulfilling and great fun when it goes right."
The MAT youth production will be presented in the amphitheater behind Pershing Hall on the campus of Montana State University-Northern. Fifteen high school age students compose the cast of five men and 10 women.
Reddoor said the play itself suggested the setting because Greek plays were all performed in natural amphitheaters and the Northern site is a natural amphitheater.
Several tents will be erected on the site from which the actors will make their entrances and to lend the sense of a Greek military camp to the set. The backdrop of Pershing Hall will serve to represent the famous Trojan walls.
There will be no charge for the play, Reddoor said, but donations will be accepted.
The play is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
This will be the second year for a MAT youth summer production. The production allows high school age students who want to act during the summer months a chance to perform.