Study Guide: Clytemnestra Mar 14, 2012

by Jessica

If you're coming to the show this weekend and haven't brushed up on your Greek myth lately, we'd recommend taking a look at the story of Clytemnestra. Even perusing the Wikipedia page will help, but here are some of the bios as written by Michelle:

For years now, Clytemnestra has been performing Daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, (King and Queen of Sparta), sister of Helen, and wife of Agamemnon.  Devoted and devastated mother of four: Orestes, Electra, Iphigenia, and Chrysothemis. Clytemnestra is known for her ability to mercurially shift from the role of weak and submissive to ruthless and manipulative.  During Agamemnon’s ten-year absence leading the Greek army during the Trojan war, Clytemnestra took Aegisthus as a lover. Clytemnestra performs her role as “Murderous Wife” upon Agamemnon’s returning, stabbing him in a bathtub with a knife.  Eight years later, Orestes, helped by Electra, kills both Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, ending Clytemnestra’s reign as the  “Quintessential Queen of Ancient Greece.” Clytemnestra would like to thank Martha Graham for her support and understanding.
 
Agamemnon, "the Very Steadfast," was the commander-in-chief during the Trojan War and killed at least 15 by his own bravery, gallantry and sword--even after alienating Achilles by stealing his girl, Briseis. Agamemnon also scored Cassandra as part of his conquests before returning home to celebrate the victory. Agamemnon would like to thank the gods, especially Artemis for the "winning wind" that set sail towards the trojan war, (totally worth the sacrifices he had to make--of his daughter, Iphigenia), his parents, King Atreus and Queen Aerope, for their examples of "loyalty," and his children, Orestes and Electra, for avenging his murder.
 
It’s been a challenging role for Aegisthus to play both grandson and son of Thyestes (as a result of Thyestes indiscretions with his own daughter, Pelopia), and to co-star Clytemnestra’s lover.  Abandoned by Thyestes and Pelopia in shame, Aegisthus was raised by shepherds and suckled by a goat until his uncle Atreus, enemy of Thyestes, took him in.   Atreus, as the biological father of both Agamemnon and Menelaeus, eventually asks Aegisthus to kill Thyestes, but instead, Thyestes convinces Aegi to kill Atreus – due to Atreus’ little indiscretion of serving the flesh of Thyestes’ first two sons to Thyestes himself.   Predictably, with all this long-standing bad family blood, and some miscellaneous rueful indiscretions, Agamemnon and Aegisthus don’t get along, on stage or off.
 
Helen, daughter of Leda, Queen of Sparta, and Zeus, is the sister of Clytemnestra, wife of Menelaus, and has loved playing the part “Most Beautiful Woman of Troy” for ages, never tiring of the role. Helen, “the face that launched a thousand ships,” was promised to Paris by Aphrodite, thus initiating the Trojan War. Helen is happy that upon the subsequent victory of the Greeks and Paris’ death, she eventually reconciles with Menelaus, leading her down a road to interpersonal happiness.  Helen would like to thank her stylist, Janice Benning.
 
Penelope is thrilled to be a part of the On the Boards premiere of “Phone Homer.” As the daughter of Icarius, and a cousin of Clytemnestra, Penelope is grateful for her supporting role in this production.  Despite having had many suitors, Penelope faithfully awaited the return of her husband, Odysseus, during his twenty-year absence (ten years during at the siege of Troy and ten years in his wanderings afterwards).  Critics loved her in her longest -running role as “the Devoted Wife” in “How to Weave your Way out of a One Night Stand,” where her character claimed that she would not remarry until she finished weaving a shroud for Odysseus’ father, Laertes, that she unraveled each night. As a symbol of connubial fidelity, Penelope is pleased that, night after night, she can provide a shining example of marital faithfulness for Clytemnestra and her audiences world wide.

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Michelle Ellsworth

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