Iphigenia & Other Daughters, 2009

“We bear nothing, we bear all”


This production marked the first live performance on Alcatraz. The story is a modern retelling of the Aeschylus’ Oresteia, which is perhaps the oldest literary expression on the theme of Justice. We begin to investigate cycles of suffering, and the conflict of personal choice in the face of a pre-determined fate. The ancient gods, The Furies, insist on justice through vengeance, while siblings Iphigenia and Orestes strive for a new kind of balance…”the part of justice which is merely personal.”

Ellen McLaughlin’s script puts forward a retelling of the Greek Oresteia. It is a rich and unusually accessible rendering of this story, and explores themes of exile, vengeance, and sacrifice, in its search to find and define Justice. Unlike other versions of this myth, McLaughlin’s play arrives at a poignant and thoughtful moment of hope, and considers the ways in which human society may disengage from cycles of crime, blame, and persecution. It comes down to an intimate, personal choice in the end. Through seeing and articulating the cycle of suffering––and the futility of it––we realize our choice to stay or to step outside of it, and participate differently.

The original Orestes myth, in its full articulation, marks the beginning of the modern democratic concept of Justice, and includes a portrayal of the first trial by jury. Orestes has long been considered the dramatic archetype for anyone whose crime is mitigated by extenuating circumstances.  He is the first character in western literature to find redemption through transforming the very system that incriminates him.  In this story, the implacable blood-feud of primitive society gives way to something else, in the original myth, to a fair trial, and in McLaughlin’s play, to something more personal, and perhaps even more powerful, than that.

Iphigenia & Other Daughters

By Ellen McLaughlin

Directed by Ava Roy & Andrus Nichols

September, 2009
Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay

Download the Program Guide

+ The Buzz

Audience Testimonials

“The end of the play, justice tempered by love, forgiveness, the quality of mercy, living in the knowledge of redemption, this is salve for the soul, this is healing, and this is personal, one human being at a time. For me justice has to be personal, while a person can employ an agent, like Orestes, it has to be felt, if there is blood, let it be on all hands, if mercy, then unrestrained, if love, then in all hearts, no half way measures." - Your Friend, Fan and Ranger, Dave McDonald

“I woke up this morning brimming with awe and gratitude for what you and your company wrought on that rock last night. I hadn’t expected to be transported as I was, thoroughly immersed and implicated, spooked and inspired. You and your company occupied that space completely... I was compelled to look left and right, high above my head then behind my line of vision, in a point-of-view exercise that expanded my position in the scheme of things.” - David Fore, audience member

“As with all We Players productions since the beginning, there is just too much to say. It’s such a rich experience! Chorus rituals, amazing acting, spectacular set and costumes and stagecraft, banners, feathers, volunteer birds, boat engine rumbling ominously, even the boat spotlight in use. And you can’t beat arriving by boat at sunset, and departing in the dark fog, for dramatic transport into and out of the magical world! Wow!” - Chris Duffield, audience member since 2000

+ The Cast

Orestes: Matthew Chavez
Electra: Andrus Nichols
Iphigenia: Ava Roy
Clytemnestra: Val Sinkler
Chrysothemis: Teri Whipple
Chorus: Aurelia Anastasia Kinslow, Rosy Moon, Jenna Brooke Smith, Cara Zeisloft

+ The Production Team

Directors: Ava Roy & Andrus Nichols
Playwright: Ellen McLaughlin
Producers: Lauren D. Chavez & Ava Roy
Costumes: Ava Roy & Andrus Nichols
Lighting Designer: Bailey Smith
Composer & Musician: Alexander Kort
Choreographer: Cara Rose De Fabio
Technical Director: Bailey Smith
Costumes & Properties: Andrus Nichols & Ava Roy
Photographers: Mike Milne
Poster & Postcard Graphic Design: Andrus Nichols
Program Design: Andrus Nichols & Lauren Chavez