Tell us a little about yourself and Relative Theatrics
Anne: I was born and raised in Laramie, WY and was
drawn to creative forms of expression from a young age. After studying theatre performance at UW, I worked professionally with Missoula Children’s Theatre and a number of professional theatre houses in California. During my post-collegiate years I found that I really missed Wyoming, and that there was a void in the Laramie community that I could work to fill. I moved home and founded Relative Theatrics, a non-profit performing arts company that produces thought-provoking, contemporary theatre that examines the joining qualities of the human race. Taking artistic risk, we provide a community gathering place where thoughts can be exchanged about society, culture, and the power of creativity.
What is An Iliad about and what made you decide to do it?
Anne: An Iliad features a single storyteller, The Poet, who is fated to travel from one town to the next telling the story of the Trojan War. During the course of the play, you come to realize that the Poet has been charged with this task for thousands of years and has laid witness to every major conflict in Western - and global - history since 2,000 BCE. The homeric epic is quoted, paraphrased, and contextualized for today’s modern, English-speaking audience… but there’s still a bit of the ancient Greek language sprinkled in!
One of the benefits of running a theatre company in a university town is that there are plenty of interdisciplinary opportunities to partner with classes on campus. One of Relative Theatrics’ longtime supporters who teaches Ancient Greek and Roman studies, Dr. Laura De Lozier, recommended the play. From there, we presented a reading of the script in conjunction with her classics course on the great epic poems, before deciding to give the play a real go of it with a performance in 2019.
What is your process like for doing a one-person performance?
Anne: It. Is. Rigorous! There is an incredible amount of self-accountability. I began preparing for the September 2019 performance in February of the same year. In addition to reading a couple translations of Homer’s The Iliad, this show also required an intense amount of research - everything from ancient Greek civilization and Greek mythology to military tactics and world history. I also spent many hours with Dr. De Lozier learning how to speak the ancient Greek language in the text (and exactly what it translates to!). Prior to AN ILIAD, I had done a number of small-cast shows, but this was my first time being truly alone on stage. I was surprised to learn how lonely it can be to vulnerably le
an into a piece without the support and camaraderie of fellow castmates. It also means that the pressure is on you to bring it every night - you can’t rely on someone else’s energy to pick up any slack. I found that I needed to engage in a two-hour warm-up ritual for each performance in order to get my voice, my body, and my mind primed for the show.
Is there a line in the show that sticks with you an
d defines the show for you?
Anne: It’s not exactly a line, but there is a section where the Poet describes Achilles’ shield. The shield itself is a magnificent work of art that depicts the good, bad, real, and ethereal elements of human existence. Beyond that, it is a hearty tool of self-defense and also reflects a shining light that can illuminate the darkness. I’ve come to see the shield as a sort of metaphor for the theatre - a word that itself derives from the Greeks and roughly translates to “the seeing place.” It’s the place where people go to see the truth. Just like the theatre, Achilles’ shield holds up a mirror to society, depicting the realities of the world we live in and shining a light on the darker facets that may have been overlooked - all in an attempt to protect the user and to provide the opportunity and insight for a brighter future. Why else tell the story for centuries?
What made you decide to tour An Iliad to Lander?
Anne: I have always loved the Lander community and have had great admiration for the artistic spirit of the town. After connecting with Amara earlier this year, we quickly asserted that a collaboration between Communal Pancake and Relative Theatrics would not only be feasible, but would be an excellent creative opportunity for both entities! From there, it was a matter of finding the right show to test out our first co
-production and we think AN ILIAD is the perfect fit.
You did a school tour, can you tell us a little bit about the workshops you did be with the students?
Anne: I am a huge proponent of Arts Education and of using theatre as a means to better access scholastic content. Many students read Homer’s The Iliad in high school or college English classes, but may not fully relate or comprehend. In addition to sharing a preview of the performance with the students, I also lead them through a series of interactive exercises. I’m excited to bring workshops to Fremont County high schools and middles schools that will apply theatre skills in order to better understand character development, dramatic literature, and classical text.
If there is one thing you hope the audience takes away from the show?
Anne: Breathe. Be kind to one another. If you feel a swell of rage rising inside of you, allow yourself the gracious space to let it go.