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Stanford Repertory Theater 20th Anniversary Summer Festival "Nevertheless They Persisted: Hecuba/Helen"

To celebrate their twentieth anniversary (June – August 2018), Stanford Repertory Theater mounts its most ambitious Summer Festival to date, "Nevertheless They Persisted." The festival features a new adaptation of Euripides’ Hecuba and Helen, focusing on two mythic women who seize control of their destinies in startling ways and triumph over the men who try to dominate them.   

On opposite sides of the great Trojan War, Queen Hecuba of Troy becomes its emblematic victim, while Helen of Sparta is reviled as its cause. Despite their apparent differences, each woman turns the tables on those who have wreaked havoc on their lives. Joined together for the first time, and presented in one evening, the iconic heroines of Hecuba/Helen speak to each other and to us, in both searingly tragic and surprisingly comic ways.

A veteran of 12 seasons with SRT, Courtney Walsh plays both Hecuba and Helen (she recently appeared to rave reviews in the title role of Phèdre at Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco, and co-directed and acted in SRT’s Moby Dick - Rehearsed, which won TBA’s Outstanding Play, Direction and Acting Ensemble). Other principal roles are performed by Joe Estlack (Shotgun Players, Magic Theater, San Jose Stage), Doug Nolan (ACT, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Word for Word), and Jennie Brick (SF Playhouse, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Sonoma Arts Live). Original music is composed by New York composer Michael Keck (ten seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, TBA’s Outstanding Sound Design for SRT’s Moby Dick - Rehearsed); choreography by Aleta Hayes (Satan in the international tour of Robert Wilson’s The Temptation of St. Anthony); sets and costumes by Connie Strayer (TheatreWorks, Opera San Jose, Oakland Ballet); and lighting by Michael Ramsaur (Berkeley Rep, Broadway by the Bay, Chicago Art Institute). SRT Artistic Director Rush Rehm directs Hecuba/Helen, which he translated and adapted from the ancient Greek.  

With stirring music, vibrant choreography, and stunning visual effects (developed by the artists who created SRT’s award-winning Moby Dick - Rehearsed), Hecuba/Helen reminds us of war’s consequences on the women who pick up the pieces and carry on. Set after the sack of Troy, Hecuba tells the story of a fallen queen facing a life of slavery and forced migration, who exacts revenge by exerting power no one suspected she possessed. In Helen, Euripides offers a marvelous twist on the traditional story – a phantom Helen, rather than Helen herself, was sent to Troy! Exposing the shadowy justifications for an unjust war, the falsely maligned heroine uses her wit and cunning to save her war-hero husband and herself. 

Hecuba/Helen plays Thursday - Saturday, 8 pm and Sunday 2 pm, from July 27 through August 19, 2018, at the newly remodeled Roble Studio Theater, 375 Santa Teresa, on the Stanford Campus. 

In addition to our production of Hecuba/Helen, SRT’s "Nevertheless They Persisted" includes a free Monday night film series introduced by Stanford faculty. We screen three films by the Oscar-winning Greek film director Michael Cacoyannis dealing with Euripidean tragic heroines: Electra, Trojan Women, and Iphigenia. We follow with three films by the great German director Margarethe von Trotta exploring three inspiring - and problematic - exemplars of female resistance: Marianne and Juliane (an Antigone-like exploration of the life of Gudrun Ensslin of the/Baader-Meinhoff gang), Hannah Arendt (on the life of the great German intellectual and political theorist who escaped to the US in 1941), and The Lost Honour of Katherine Blum.  

The festival also includes an all-day community symposium exploring the afterlife of the Trojan War in literature and art. Lectures by Richard Martin (Classics, Stanford), Professor Heather Hadlock (Music, Stanford), Katerina Zacharia (Classics and Film, Loyola-Marymount University), William Eddelman, Theater Studies,  Stanford), and Elizabeth Ten-Hove (Ph.D candidate, Classics, Stanford), are interspersed with short performances by the SRT company (Euripides’ Orestes, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida, Goethe’s Faust, George Seferis’ Helen, among others) and a panel discussion with SRT artists working on Hecuba/Helen. The symposium takes place on the Stanford campus, Saturday August 4, 2018. 

Finally, in conjunction with Stanford Continuing Studies, we offer an evening course (June 27 - August 8) entitled “Euripides Our Contemporary.” Taught by Rush Rehm (Professor of Theater and Classics), the course explores Euripides’ plays dealing with women and war.

SRT gratefully thanks the following for their generous support of our 2018 Nevertheless They Persisted Festival: Stanford Continuing Studies, Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education, Office of the Provost and the President, School of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), Department of Classics, Graduate School of Education, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Office of the Vice President for the Arts, Stanford Humanities Center, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Department of Music, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Office of Religious Life, the Clayman Institute, Department of Religious Studies, Department of English, Department of Art and Art History, the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, and generous gifts from Brad and Judy O’Brien, Todd and Susan Makler, and William Eddelman. 



Friday, July 27, 2018. 08:00PM


Roble Studio Theater




Free parking. Tickets $25 adults/$15 students and unemployed. Purchase tickets online at, phone 650-725-5838 and leave a message, or email Ticket orders accepted beginning April 15, 2018.