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Westwood High School is presenting the play "Argonautika,” written by Mary Zimmerman and adapted from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. It tells the story of Jason, who is sent by his uncle to find the “golden fleece” taken from a winged ram. He does this based on promise that, if successful, he’ll get to be king.
Jim Howard, WHS drama teacher and director, says this story is an opportunity to give students a challenge beyond just the actual production. He called it a cautionary tale about ambition that applies more than just myth.
“I don’t believe theater exists in a vacuum and I don’t teach that either. Theater happens in our current time and it brings our community together while the world is out there happening,” he said. “We’re looking at political campaigns and an election in a year. I think it's reasonable to ask the question: what are you willing to do with your ambition?”
Howard believes that the best theater reflects the time in which it is being presented, but notes that it can be new works written with current events in mind or an older play that may say something about the world today. He has found student reaction to be generally positive.
“Students were less familiar with this work than they were ‘1984,’” he said in reference to last year’s production. “But they’re really enjoying it.”
Junior Oscar Soucy is playing the lead role of Jason, and echoes his director’s sentiments on the story’s accessibility to the audience. He says it’s one of the things that makes him excited to be a part of it.
“Most of the people who are going to see this show know little to nothing about it. That allows us to tell the story and get reactions from the audience,” he said. “The tale carries ideas that can be used in everyday life. I think anyone who comes to see the show will have something to take away from it.”
Howard said this production has presented challenges and opportunities to make it stand out against the plays in the past, including a set he calls “a little ambitious.” In order to create a world inhabited by gods and goddesses, the crew needed to create platforms to raise some of the actors onto higher planes. Further, the play contains 47 different characters, but there are only 16 actors, meaning many will have to double up
Fiona Garrity is a senior who will playing three roles: Medea, Alcimede, and Phineus. This will be her final fall play, and she says it is something she’ll never forget.
“It's really fun to be a part of WHS theater because of the community. Not only are we all working towards the same goal, but we all support each other through it. I will truly miss these people when I go to college.”
Senior Sydney Jud is playing Athena, and really enjoys the amount of effort it takes to pull it all off.
“I've been doing the shows since freshman year and the best part is the people. We see each other every day like any sport, but we really have to work together and work incredibly hard to put together something truly spectacular,” she said. “I especially admire the extraordinary work ethic of those joining our productions for the first time.”
For Soucy, being part of WHS theater is unlike anything he’s experienced in high school. “It is a place where I can express myself without any judgment. I am connected to all of these people by a similar interest, which opens the door and allows cooperation between cast-mates,” he said. “Some of my greatest friends I have met in the theater, and I wouldn't have it any other way.”
"Argonautika" opens on October 25, with a performance at 7:30 p.m. and additional performances on Oct. 26 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit westwoodstage.com.