"The Penelopiad"

by Margaret Atwood
Author of "The Handmaid's Tale"

Directed by Dr. Jennifer S. Holmes, Professor of Theatre & Communication Arts
Scenic & Lighting Design by Brian Alan Reed
Costume Design by Monica French

The Robinson Theatre
November 30 - December 2 2017 (Thursday-Saturday) - 7:30 p.m.
December 3, 2017 (Sunday) - 2:00 p.m.


Tickets: $15.00

Seniors & Students: $10.00



As portrayed in Homer's Odyssey, Penelope - wife of Odysseus and cousin of the beautiful Helen of Troy - has become a symbol of wifely duty and devotion, enduring twenty years of waiting when her husband goes to fight in the Trojan War. As she fends off the attentions of a hundred greedy suitors, travelling minstrels regale her with news of Odysseus' epic adventures around the Mediterranean - slaying monsters and grappling with amorous goddesses. When Odysseus finally comes home, he kills her suitors and then, in an act that served as little more than a footnote in Homer's original story, inexplicably hangs Penelope's twelve maids.

Now, Penelope and her chorus of wronged maids tell their side of the story in a new stage version by Margaret Atwood, adapted from her own wry, witty and wise novel.

The Penelopiad premiered with the Royal Shakespeare Company in association with Canada's National Arts Centre at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in July 2007.

We meet Penelope whiling away her time in Hades, unhappy about being misunderstood by centuries of readers familiar with her as a faithful wife. She has her personal story to tell and she also has her opinions about her famous husband and his exploits to ponder. With her in Hades are her maids, whom Homer says were hanged by Odysseus upon his return. They too have their story of unfair treatment to tell. While Penelope relates her story – that of her birth in Sparta, relationship with her glamorous cousin Helen, arranged marriage, acceptance into Odysseus’ household in Ithaca and long wait for him to return from the Trojan Wars - the ghosts of her maids, in true Greek chorus fashion, act out the scenes of the story. Between narrative interludes, the maids also have a chance to explain their situation and plead their case. Penelope’s story varies little from the classic tale told by Homer, except in pointing out that there are other explanations for the heroic escapades. She also points out that she clearly recognized the disguised Odysseus on his return but felt it important to flatter his ego by playing along. Her memory of the actual slaughter of the suitors and her maids is conveniently murky. Her narration continues the story past the time of her death and that of her husband into the 21st century where a modern court of justice tries Odysseus for the murder charges. The task of determining the truth surrounding the murders is thwarted by divine intervention however, leaving us to draw our own conclusions.

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