Photo by Dustin Nagy

Electra Speaks

Lane brings back a bigger, better version of Oresteia

If you missed Lane Community College’s rock opera Oresteia in 2015, take heart. It’s back — as Electra’s Oresteia — and bigger and better than before, says LCC’s director of theater Brian Haimbach. 

“The music [by local wunderkind Cullen Vance] is the same, but 75 percent of the lyrics and all of the book is rewritten. It’s a completely different play,” Haimbach says. 

With Haimbach at the helm, LCC has been focused on collaborative engagement. And their Student Production Association (SPA) calls most of the shots, from choosing what shows to produce and how to fund them, to even getting elbows-in on a 2,000-year-old primary text. 

So how do you tackle fifth-century B.C. Greek tragedy?

“Aaron Smart, former SPA president, is a really good playwright,” Haimbach says. 

Smart, along with current LCC student Malakhai Schnell, Cullen Vance and Haimbach, each took a crack at the book rewrite. “But Aaron edited it for voice,” Haimbach says. 

The Oresteia takes us to Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan War and the tragedies that ensue, resulting in societal change. 

“In our original show, we see a society moving from vengeance to justice,” Haimbach says. “But in this new version, we move from trusting our leaders to make our decisions for us, to making our own decisions.”

And the protagonist in this new version is a woman.  

Classic tragedy writers such as Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus have defined Elektra, the daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra. She’s pretty famous. Sophocles depicts her as a loyal, devoted daughter — a daddy’s girl. Euripides shows her more resentful, ticked to be married to a peasant. And Aeschylus? 

“This new version has a moral center in Elektra,” Haimbach says. “Before, she was sidelined. But in this new version, Elektra speaks.” 

LCC’s production of Electra’s Oresteia is slated to coincide with the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival hosted by the University of Oregon.

Performances are 7:30 pm Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 14-17, and 2 pm Sunday, Feb. 17, in Ragozzino Performance Hall, LCC main campus, 4000 E. 30th Ave; tickets are free and available at the door. 

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