The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Margo in Margoland, a new play by senior Rachel Alter and directed by senior Caroline Slutsky on April 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street.
Alter’s full-length play is inspired by the Greek myth of Medea and Euripides’ play by the same name. “In this magical contemporary adaptation,” explains Alter, “Margo falls into her imagination, where she discovers that the pain and betrayal of her past are much more alive and real than she could have ever imagined.”
As in the original Greek tragedy, Margo seeks revenge on her ex-husband Jason as he prepares to remarry. Ex-lovers, her mother and others join Margo in her imaginary Margoland, a whimsical and confusing place where reality and time are blurred and where the main character sorts through her anger and repressed feelings.
“I was first exposed to the figure of Euripides’ Medea when I traveled with Professors Tim Vasen and Michael Cadden to Greece in summer 2012 for a Global Seminar on ‘Re-staging the Greeks,’” notes Alter. “The character frustrated me. I could not relate in any way. What motivates a woman to kill her child? Who could possibly be consumed by that much rage and resentment?”
Alter will graduate from Princeton with a concentration in English and a certificate in theater. She has been studying playwriting since freshman year with Professors R.N. Sandberg, Melissa James Gibson, and Lynn Nottage. While this is her first full length play to be produced, two of her shorter plays, Expecting the Queen and Pardon My Stare, have been produced as part of the Student Playwrights Festival by Princeton’s Theatre Intime. Her piece, 10 Years In, First Day Out, an adaptation of the Helen and Menelaus story, was part of Theatre Intime’s Staged Reading Festival. Alter has also worked closely with the S.H.A.R.E. (Sexual Harassment/Assault Advising, Resources and Education) office over the past two years to help re-write its freshman orientation play. This orientation program helps educate the incoming class about bystander intervention regarding forms of power-based personal violence. In addition to her writing, Alter has worked as a director, stage-manager, production manager, and props master. She directed Rafi Abraham’s senior thesis play Eight Feet, which premiered in February of 2013. Following graduation, Alter will begin a yearlong fellowship with Princeton in Asia teaching English at Payap University in Ching Mai, Thailand. After her time abroad, Alter plans to return to the U.S. to pursue an M.F.A. in playwriting.
The character of Medea impacted Slutsky too; she also participated in the Global Seminar in Greece that summer and is directing Margo in Margoland. For her final project for the Seminar course, Slutsky performed Medea’s monologue that so haunted Alter, bringing to life the character that Alter had never been able to imagine. For Alter, Slutsky’s reading made Medea relatable and sympathetic, while at the same time maintaining all the danger, fear and intrigue the character inspires. Alter credits Slutsky’s performance for cementing her fascination with Medea and her inspiration for the play.
This production marks Slutsky’s directorial debut at Princeton. She is also an English major pursuing a certificate in theater. At Princeton, she has acted in over ten productions through both the Program in Theater and student-run theatre groups. She was most recently seen this year as Estella in Great Expectations, directed by faculty member Tim Vasen, and was a featured performer in a production of The Speakeasy Project, her senior thesis project directed by faculty member Suzie Agins. After Princeton, she plans to move to New York City to pursue acting professionally.
Movement will play an important part in Margo in Margoland, choreographed by junior Adin Walker. He is a choreographer for the student dance group diSiac and directed Princeton University Players’ production of the musical Rent this past February. Graduate student Dan Ames is creating additional fight choreography.