The Cambridge Student spoke exclusively to Sarah Mercer, director of The Trojan Women, this week’s Corpus Main Show.
‘The war is over, the war begins… for me.’ Troy has fallen, and its women wait in the wreckage to discover their fates. Having borne witness to the death of husbands, fathers and sons and seen their city burned to the ground, they now face slavery, abuse and humiliation at the hands of their enemies.
Sarah Mercer is no newcomer to the Cambridge theatre scene. Having clocked up over 20 shows over her 3 years acting, singing, and even burlesque dancing, Sarah is now making her directorial debut with one of Euripides’ classic Greek Tragedies.
“There aren’t that many really great roles for women in theatre, particularly in Cambridge where you have this enormous talent pool of phenomenal girls and just not the parts for them. The actresses we’ve got are really, very talented.
“The theme of women in war is a very important one. One speech talks about how women are always on the periphery of war; they’re not fighting but they are always damaged by it."
“The themes of sexual violence in The Trojan Women are as current now as they've ever been. Even in Cambridge that fear and that threat of someone using your sexuality against you is just as present as it’s ever been.Obviously the play offers this violence in the extreme, but its only through extremity that these things are really brought to the fore”
"A big part of this play is the fact that these women had no voice and no say in what happens to them in their futures. During the course of the play they lose their identity, they lose their voice – they lose any control they have over their own lives… It’s frightening and is something that we uncomfortably look at.”
Costume is symbolic. “We’re using mask which is about the women’s loss of identity, the loss of authority and the loss of their voice. It symbolises that every time a woman leaves the space she is going into a world where she has no control and no ability to change her own life.
"There is a lot of Physical Theatre in the play. It is movement to music so it is dance but it’s come from somewhere more natural. My Co-Director Rose Reade has quite a large background in Physical Theatre so we did a lot with every day movements which we then distorted."
“It really is a fantastic piece of theatre, but the audience needs to understand that they're going to feel really uncomfortable and they're gonna be upset by what they see, but we’re hoping that they leave with their way of thinking changed.
The Trojan Women opens TONIGHT at 7pm at the Corpus Playroom and will be playing until Saturday. (Tuesday 6th May – Saturday 10th May)
All photos credited to India Rose Matharu-Daley