American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
Young love — passionate and volatile to begin with — positively ignites amid the prolonged atmosphere of war. Yet “romance” is a word that doesn’t apply here. Troilus and Cressida is a story of extremes and contradictions — rules broken, promises betrayed and the simple goal of survival giving rise to heartbreaking developments. Love and lust, jealousy and revenge, life and death — there is nothing small about war and, accordingly, there are no small themes here. Devoid of laws, heroes or villains, Troilus and Cressida is intense, dangerous and surprisingly familiar.
Steamy and intense, Troilus and Cressida is a fitting finale for American Players Theatre's outdoor season.
By Amelia Cook, The Isthmus, August 19, 2012.
In APT's 'Troilus,' nothing's fair in love and war.
By Lindsay Christians, 77 Square, August 19, 2012.
“All the argument is a whore and a cuckold.”
It’s the most famous war in history. It looms over us. The Trojan War appears to have occurred in the Late Bronze Age, some eight centuries before Alexander the Great and more than a thousand years before Julius Caesar. And yet the world knows more about this war than any war in history. We know the kings and the princes, the soldiers, their wives, their lovers, their children, their horses. We know the battles, the treacheries, the alliances. We know the Gods they worshipped and the Gods they disdained.
And of course we know the reason for the war. Ten years of vicious war and a civilization destroyed for “the face that launched a thousand ships. “
Really? No, really? That’s like saying the Archduke Ferdinand started World War I. Or the Civil War was fought for States’ Rights. Does anyone remember the Domino Theory? Does anyone Remember the Maine?
Shakespeare’s not buying it. He is not impressed by the legend of Troy and the Greek heroes who besiege it. He sees greed, ego, revenge, politics, pettiness, lust, love, family, grief, betrayal, hurt, misunderstanding, fear, hope. He sees us – our aspirations and our lies.
I’ve said several times that Troilus and Cressida meet at the corner of War and Sex. But it could also be the corner of Humanity and Myth. The world remembers Troilus, Cressida, and her uncle Pandarus as the Fool, the Whore, and the Pimp. They themselves consider that biographical possibility even as they make their vows to each other. They anticipate the People Magazine version of their lives. But Shakespeare asks us to look closer. Look here. Here’s a very young man who would rather love than fight, but is destined to become the ultimate killing machine. Here’s a young woman, her father a traitor now living with the Greeks, understandably afraid to admit she loves a Trojan prince. And here’s an uncle, trying to make the best of it. A man with no real power, bringing two young, inexperienced, desperate people together.
Troilus and Cressida is one of the Problem Plays. Oh, please. Do shut up. It’s a problem only because it doesn’t fit into any single genre of Comedy, History, Tragedy, etc. Like you sit down at the theatre and say, “Well, dear. What genre of Shakespeare are we seeing tonight?” It is a play that has had no verified success before the twentieth century. And it is nothing if not modern in its refusal to believe in the heroic. A rich, beautiful city sits on a hill, at the exact point where Europe and Asia meet. (Wars, like real estate, are frequently just a matter of location, location, location.) A ragtag collection of scrappy island kingdoms are looking to expand. They’re looking for a logo, a brand, a theme song to start a war. Enter Helen of Troy.
At the heart of this story are two young people who believe that their youth and their love matter. Shakespeare reminds us that every single day war obliterates that notion. Sorry, kids. We know that a whole culture, every scrap of it, is destroyed by this war. Shakespeare, in this beautiful, messy play, charts the terrible, wonderful accidents of humanity that war accelerates. He reminds us that dreams can be casualties, too.
This marks the APT premiere of Troilus and Cressida. It is our great pleasure to offer you this extraordinary play.
- William Brown, Director