From the author of trace comes two adaptations that transport mythological stories from Ancient Greece to modern-day civilizations. Led by people of colour, these darkly comedic plays depict recognizable plights for justice.
Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) highlights the repetition of hate and colonialism that occur in ancient myths through a mischievous lens. Since Iphigenia was rescued from the sacrificial altar, she has served as a high priestess to the goddess Artemis on Tauros, where she in turn is to sacrifice any foreigners who try to enter. When she discovers that an exiled prisoner is her brother, they together plot their escape, but are soon confronted by a force beyond their control.
Antigone: 方is set against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement and Tiananmen Square Massacre protests. When citizens challenge a state’s traditional doctrine, the ruling family is divided between their own interests and those of its citizens. After brothers Neikes and Teo kill each other in the protests, their sister Antigone defies her father’s orders to retrieve Neikes’s body, causing the government—and what’s left of their family—to reach a reckoning.
About the authors
Ho Ka Kei / Jeff Ho is a Toronto-based theatre artist, originally from Hong Kong. His works include Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), Antigone:?, and trace. He has held residencies with the Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, Nightswimming, Cahoots, the Banff Playwrights Lab, and Factory Theatre. Jeff has received a Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best New Canadian Play and has been nominated four times for the Dora Mavor Moore Award—both as a performer and as a playwright—the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund Award for Young Canadian Playwright, and has been awarded a Harold Award. He is a graduate of the National Theatre School.
Jonathan Seinen is a founding member of Saga Collectif and Boys in Chairs Collective, co-artistic producer of Architect Theatre, and former artistic associate with lemonTree creations. In addition to directing Black Boys, he directed Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), which was nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards including Outstanding Direction, co-created and performed in Highway 63: The Fort Mac Show and Like There’s No Tomorrow, and was Assistant Director for Timon of Athens at the Stratford Festival. He co-created Charisma Furs with Mx. Sly, which was published by Playwrights Canada Press in Q2Q: Queer Canadian Performance Texts. A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, he recently completed his MFA in Theatre Directing at Columbia University in New York City, where he directed Cabaret, Our Town, and The Seagull, and was Assistant Director to Anne Bogart on Tristan Und Isolde at the Croatian National Theatre in Rijeka. He is a current winner of the Canada Council for the Arts John Hirsch Prize, and is now an Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo State College in Buffalo, New York.
- Winner, Toronto Theatre Critics' Award for Best New Canadian Play
Excerpt: Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) & Antigone: 方 (by (author) Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho); foreword by Jonathan Seinen)
The square swells with conflict
But for a dream like second
The Chorus speaks:
Note: This can be performed solo, by CHORUS 4
Or can be performed chorally, with each member of the chorus
(Minus Antigone or the Guard/Chorus 5)
Taking one line at a time.
How strange is the world
How utterly strange is our world.
But compared to mankind . . .
The world sits back to
How utterly strange we humans are.
We fly through the skies
Sail through the seas
Conquer our lands
Inch by inch
As if the world belongs to us alone
The winged creatures that share our skies
We shoot them down and scream
THE SKY IS OURS
The fanged beasts that share our earth
We trap them and scream
THE LAND IS OURS
The fish, the sharks, the submerged entities
We take our nets, our knives, and scream
YOUR FLESH IS OURS
We, men, masters of animals
Of each other
Whipping through our tongues
Speaking like thunder to show just how smart we are
Flaunting our hair
Brushing our faces to show just how beautiful we are
We answer every unknown with an arrogance of
We know it all, we know it all
We know everything
What happens afterwards?
After the fall?
After we disappear?
What happens when we die?
We vibrate between the law and our lives
Between being good and being bad
If man veers and stays with the good
Good for him.
But if man derails.
Finds himself warping his tongue
Into bitterness and anger.
Finds himself disappearing others
For the sake of his own appearances. Finds himself
A leader, leading us to the end instead of the light.
If man stays with evil.
Good for him.
He proves just how utterly strange we are.
“The comic timing is flawless; some of the contemporary one-liners could feel glib in less skilled hands, but here they zing. The characters are all emotionally credible, while still bemused by the way the gods have screwed up their lives.” (Praise for Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land))
Martha Schabas, The Globe and Mail
“His adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone both relocates this Greek story to reflect Ho’s Chinese heritage and directly challenges the narratives that its audience of 12- to 18-year-olds may be hearing in their classrooms right now, while empowering them to do something to change it.” (Praise for Antigone: 方)
Carly Maga, Toronto Star