Public Theater Opens with Greek Tragedy “Electra”
New York actress Shinnerrie Jackson is ecstatic about being a part of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s season-opening production of the poignant family saga, “Electra.”
“I had never done Greek theater before and I wanted to try out and be a part of it. I wanted to move into something different. It is a great challenge and a great opportunity. I had heard about the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Ted Pappas and I really wanted to do something at the theater,” Jackson said.
“Electra” tells the story of the famous Atreides family. Electra is a young princess forced to live in Mycenae palace with her mother, Clytemnestra and her mother’s lover, Aegisthus. Electra hates the pair, which she doesn’t hide. Her disdain for them comes from the fact that they murdered Electra’s father, king Agamemnon, thus causing tensions between mother and daughter. In addition to her mother, her lover and Electra living in the palace, Electra’s sister Chrysothemis lives in the palace as well. The brutal murder of Electra’s father causes tensions between mother and daughter.
“There is a sense that everyone has a right and a wrong (side) and which way you go depends on what side you align with. Our human feeling of the despair of waiting for something to take place and the havoc that can unleash. If we could just open our eyes and see everything will happen in its own time,” Jackson said.
In addition, “Electra” also ponders the age-old question: “Are humans ruled by fate or are they responsible for their behavior?
“Electra is an outsider and she is the only one who wants to avenge her father’s death and at every turn something makes her feel that won’t happen and she has to continue to fight to move upward and move forward,” Jackson said.
Jackson is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory where she earned a bachelor’s of music and the University of Tennessee where she received her master’s of fine arts. The admitted workaholic has appeared in numerous plays and musicals including “Race” and “Intimate Apparel.”
Jackson said the universal themes that surge throughout “Electra” will appeal to audiences of all ages and races.
“African-Americans will relate to the fact that there is something higher than ourselves—the people in the play believe in the Gods like Zeus and Apollo. Throughout history, African-Americans have continued to fight to move forward or either obey the rules and accept things the way they are in order to assimilate and live,” she said.
Jackson plays a member of the chorus who serves as a support system for Electra and a kind of narrator to the story.
“We are a chorus of three women who are there for Electra in the town where she lives,” Jackson explained. “We support Electra and we tell her to pull herself together. We advise her because we want her to succeed in avenging her father because we believe he was the rightful king. We have a stake in the government, but Electra is the rightful heir to the throne because she is the oldest child.”
Typically, a Greek chorus comments with a collective voice on the dramatic action in the production.
“Electra” was written by Greek playwright Sophocles in 410 BC and was adapted by Frank McGuinness in 1997. it is being directed by Ted Pappas. It will run at the O’Reilly Theater Sept. 29-Oct. 30.
Performance times are as follows: Tuesday-Saturday at 8 p.m. except for Oct. 25 when the show begins at 7 p.m. Saturdays at 2 p.m. (except for Oct. 1 and 8). There will be an additional 2 p.m. matinee Oct. 27; Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (except for Oct. 30 when the final show is at 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $28.75 to $60.75 for seats or $15.75 for students age 26 or younger with valid identification.
(For tickets or more information, call 412-316-1600 or visit www.ppt.org.)