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Great Queens: Scenes.

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Friday, October 22nd, 2021
10:00 AM to 11:30 AM

In the 5th century BCE, the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus--sometimes called the "father of tragedy"--wrote a trilogy of plays called the Oresteia. The first installment, Agamemnon, deals with the immediate aftermath of the Trojan War. Agamemnon, commander of the Greek armies, returns home after ten long years of siege and war. The people of Argos applaud their victorious king, and his wife Clytaemnestra appears to give him a warm and hospitable welcome. All is not as it seems, however. Clytaemnestra has taken a lover in her husband's absence, and plans to murder Agamemnon, take up with Aegisthus, and assume the throne. She brutally stabs her husband and his new concubine to death in the bath. Clytemnestra claims that she and Aegisthus are now the rulers of Argos and that their actions have divine sanction. However, the play ends on an ominous note, with the Chorus warning that Clytemnestra's son Orestes will return from exile to avenge his father.

Aeschylus' depiction of Clytaemnestra tends to be viewed negatively; she is often paradoxically criticized for both her womanly qualities and for reigning too much like a man. From a more modern perspective, however, she can be seen as the epitome of an empowered, independent female ruler. Prof. Eliza Gardiner's creative exploration of Clytaemnestra and other great queenly protagonists from the theatre will explore how these characters' qualities reflect and challenge the gender roles and expectations of their times. Select dramatic scenes will be performed to explore the angst, authority, and attitudes of strong female leads who exploit and overcome a system devised to serve the patriarchy.

Eliza Gardiner teaches theatre history, public speaking and applied theatre at VIU. Eliza’s scholarly focus on fifth century Attic tragedy has evolved into research of arts-based teaching practices, participatory theatre methodologies, and socio-political Theatre of the Oppressed techniques. A commissioned playwright and director with 20 years’ experience, Eliza owned and operated Red Room Studio children’s theatre company. She has presented at the VIU Arts and Humanities Colloquium previously on “The Power of Indigenous Theatre.”

For this presentation, the VIU Arts and Humanities Colloquium will welcome a maximum audience of 150 to Malaspina Theatre (Building 310 on the Nanaimo campus). In order to give us a sense of the audience size, we would appreciate it if you would register if you plan to attend in person (register at

Registration is encouraged but not required. All guests will be required to wear masks inside the venue, and will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination if our attendance is over 50 patrons. Prof. Gardiner's presentation will also be streamed on Zoom.

If you would like to attend virtually, please follow this link, using password 298471:


Cost: Free Event
Category: Arts | Entertainment
    Talks | Lectures
Location: VIU Malaspina Theatre
900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo
This event is for Adults, Seniors, Student / College
More Info: Theo Finigan
[email protected]
Event Website
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