Theatre Department presenting “Electra”

The Department of Theatre at Cornell College will present Electra, the classic Greek tragedy by Sophocles as the first offering in Cornell’s season of classical works.  The play, which deals with themes of revenge, bloodlust, and obsession, is directed by Cornell theatre professor Mark Hunter and features one of the greatest female roles in western theatre.

Cornell College Junior Kayla Prestel as Electra

Electra will open October 29th in Kimmel Theatre on the Cornell Campus and plays at 7:30 pm on the 29th and 30th of October, the 5th, and 6th of November and at 2:00 pm on November 7th.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for non-Cornell students. Faculty, staff, and students of Cornell are admitted without charge.

Electra, along with Oedipus and Antigone, is one of Sophocles’ greatest plays and one of the most enduring tragic dramas of Greek theatre. The story follows Electra’s long wait to be reunited with her brother Orestes and to avenge the death of her father, who was murdered years previously at the hands of his wife and her lover.  When produced on Broadway in 1998, using a new translation by Frank McGuinness, the New York Times described the play as “both a timeless family tragedy and a lurid tabloid crime story” and “a magnificent new production that represents soul-satisfying drama at its most passionately, intensely alive.”

Using that same McGuinness translation, Cornell’s version is true to the work’s classical origins, but also offers a contemporary gloss to the play.  Of special note is the contribution of video artist Anna Henson, who is working on the inclusion of multi-media elements in the show that help to deepen the audience’s encounter with the troubled mind of the title character. Director Hunter comments that “our intention is to serve up a production that engages the audience’s emotions, intellect, and sensory perceptions in a theatrically seductive and dynamic way.”

The cast of Electra includes both veterans of the Cornell stage and newcomers. The challenging title role will be played by junior Kayla Prestel. Other members of the talented cast include Julian Stacey as Electra’s brother Orestes, Anna Sewell as her mother Clytemnestra, and freshman Kelsea Martin as Chrysothemis, Electra’s younger sister. The scenic design for the production is by Scott Olinger, a professor of theatre at Cornell. Costumes designs are by Jenny Kelchen and student Emily White. Other students at work on the show are John Wilson, the lighting designer, and senior Dorian Gehring, the sound designer.

Electra is a visually arresting and unforgettable piece of theatre, proving once again the timeless value of the classics and their enduring capacity to absorb contemporary aesthetics. Tickets can be purchased at the box office by calling in advance at (319) 895-4293, or at the door. This production has strong imagery and is not suitable for young children.