The Trojan Women
Dixie State College of Utah - Spring 2011
Black Box Theater
Director - Varlo Davenport
Plot Synopsis: After the Greeks have infiltrated the city of Troy with the infamous Trojan horse, the city has been destroyed and nearly all its men and boys killed. The remaining Trojan women and the last son of Troy wait to be taken back to Greece as slaves. As they wait, the women reflect on the loss of their beloved city, the murder of their husbands, sons and fathers, and contemplate their future in Greece. 

Themes:  The oppression of women by men and the collapse of religion.
     Expressed by
·         The torn and tattered materials which represent the women of Troy.
·         The destroyed temple and alter which represents the collapse of religion.
Production Objectives:  The director wanted to make this production a metaphor that extended to all women from all times affected by war - past, present, and possibly even future.  The director also wanted to make this production one that would be accessible and interesting to a college age audience. Also the entire budget for scenic elements was  
     Expressed by
·         Fake glass, spent bullet shells, plastic materials, and Greek architecture represent the metaphor across time

Design Objectives: Create an immersive environment that would engage the audience and prepare them to identify and relate with the Women of Troy. In order to achieve this I used and manipulated principles of perceptual psychology. The principles I specifically used were: priming, interaction, archetypes, smell association, threat detection, factor of safety, and top-down lighting bias.

Following is a list defining each element into the visual elements that were used to communicate them. 

Priming - activating memories and emotions
     Achieved by
·         A film in the entry tunnel which played a looping clips of wars, political issues, tragedies from the last century 
·         The entrance tunnel which became lower and narrower as the audience moved through it, thus the audience physically experienced a sense of restriction and oppression which relates the  restriction and oppression of the women.
Interaction -
     Achieved by
·         After the audience entered through the tunnel, they found a space with no chairs. In order to find a seat they had to explore the space and find a platform or piece of rubble to sit on. This also served as another prime because this caused a feeling of displacement, just like the feeling of displacement the Trojan women were experiencing. 
·         Because of the intimate nature of the space and the "found seating," the audience became a part of the picture and the environment that the actors were interacting with.
Archetypes - universal patterns of theme and form
     Achieved by
·         In order to find what visual archetypes existed for war and destruction, I analyzed hundreds of images for common shapes and patterns. What I found was: destruction, intrusion and collision of horizontal planes and lines, breaking and fragmentation, overbearing shapes and lines.
Smell 
     Achieved by
·         In order to create a "smell-scape" of war and destruction, we burnt small amounts of sawdust and set of a small firework minutes before the house opened. The use of water based haze completed the smell experience by creating the illusion that the smell of gunpowder and smoke was the haze.
Threat Detection and Factor of Safety - our ability as humans to detect threatening stimuli, like angry faces or dangerous situations, 
                              more easily than non-threatening stimuli
     Achieved by
·         Abstracted aggressive faces in the scenic painting
·         The illusion of heavy, crumbling columns and beams suspended overhead. This illusion was furthered by an ambient sound-scape which featured the sounds of crumbling rocks and debris, and creaking ropes. 
·         Shards of soft silicone "glass" on stage which the actors walked across bare foot
Top-down Lighting Bias - We are perceptually biased for top-down light. When light comes from the bottom up, it is unsettling. 
     Achieved by
·            Light sources from the lights (flickering flames) under rubble and from below a large grate.

General Notes: 
·         This production was my senior project for my Bachelors Degree of Integrated Studies with emphasis in Theatre and Psychology.
·         The budget for this production was $500. The entire environment was achieved by only using $350.
 
Video walk through of the space. Two clips, one with and one without an audience.
Sound-scape I designed for the tunnel. A controlled auditory chaos of broken pipes and arcing electricity to help evoke the feel of a collapsing tunnel.
Sound- scape of the main playing space. Creaking timbers, tumbling rocks, and an eerie white noise hint at the moment of destruction that proceeded it and give auditory weight to the heavy objects suspended above. 
Sound Sequence to accompany the fall of the Trojan Temple Illian in the distance of the city.
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