2021-2022,  blog

I start from an image

Blog by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho), Playwright | Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land)

Jeff Ho is a Toronto-based theatre artist, originally from Hong Kong.  

As a playwright, his works include the critically acclaimed Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land), produced by Saga Collectif; Antigone: , produced by Young People’s Theatre; and trace, produced by Factory Theatre and the National Arts Centre. His work has been developed by the Stratford Festival, Tarragon Theatre, Young People’s Theatre, Human Cargo, Factory Theatre, Cahoots, the Banff Playwrights Lab, Nightswimming Theatre. His plays are published by Playwrights Canada Press.  

Jeff is the Company Dramaturg with Outside The March. Jeff is grateful to have been honoured with a Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best New Canadian Play (Iphigenia); the Jon Kaplan Legacy Fund Award for a Young Canadian Playwright; the Bulmash Siegel Playwriting Award (Tarragon Theatre); nominated for four Dora Awards, and recipient of a Harold Award (House of Nadia Ross). He is a graduate of the National Theatre School.

When I write, I begin from an image, and then things begin spiraling out from there.

In antigone: 方, it was an umbrella, and for trace it was a piano. For Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land), it was white paper. What started from this blank white paper has now spiraled into a Saga Collectif, Architect Theatre, and Theatre Passe Muraille Digital co-production — and I would like to personally introduce you to this story, and welcome you to watch the incredible world that this creative team has built.

image of the set with lighting. There is a pyramid-like sculpture in the front, three white boxes stacked on top of one another. Behind it is like a gush of crinkled paper, that is gleaming from a yellow, blue and purple lighting

Set and Costume design by Christine Ting – Huan 挺欢 Urquhart / Lighting design by Jareth Li / Photo by Dahlia Katz

In Iphigenia in Tauris by Euripedes, Iphigenia is a princess — daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra of Mycenae. Before King Agamemnon sails to the infamous Trojan war, he is asked to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to the gods. Pitying her, the goddess Artemis rescues her, and brings her to Taurian Land, where she becomes a priestess.

In my adaptation of the play, we take some further liberties with the tale. 

Traditionally, the Greek chorus represents citizenry. In many of the translations that I read of the original Iphigenia in Tauris, the chorus were actually comprised of Greek slave women, and they’d speak about or be in support of what Iphigenia was going through. At the end of the play, the chorus is left behind in Tauris — we don’t get to hear their voice and their resistance. 

So I took a different direction: “Chorus”, which would originally be composed of many women, became one character. It was a joy to find a way to combine all these voices into one character, and to centralize her voice near the end of the story.

Played and spearheaded by the incredible PJ Prudat (Treaty 6 born, Métis/nehiyaw (roots to Batoche, Glen Mary, Red River, Qu’Appelle) & French/Scandinavian), our “Chorus” is inspired by the Trickster. Our Chorus is elusive, multivalent, surprising, charming and very frank. The addition of “(on Taurian Land)” in the title is a provocation: an attempt to ingrain the land acknowledgement into our creative process, and within the integral dramaturgy of the storytelling.

PJ, dressed in a black and white jacket embellished in silver and gold patterns, appears in front of the brightly lit set, with arms out and walking gleefully

PJ Prudat as “Chorus” / Photo by Dahlia Katz

Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land) is also about reunion with our families (chosen/given), about facing the inherited cycles of violence.

For me, this was also about reuniting with this creative team, welcoming new cast members Kwaku Okyere and Nathaniel Hanula-James to this family, and also – reuniting with Theatre Passe Muraille! Reunification in the midst of the pandemic has been quite radical, and there is something very anchoring here.

I am very excited to be able to open Theatre Passe Muraille’s 21.22 season with Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land), and I cannot wait to reunite and meet with you (digitally) with this story!

Christine Ting – Huan 挺欢 Urquhart and Jeff Ho at the TPM MainSpace Theatre / Photo by Dahlia Katz

Iphigenia and the Furies (on Taurian Land)

Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) by Ho Ka Kei (Jeff Ho) — A Saga Collectif, Architect Theatre & Theatre Passe Muraille Co-Production

Running digitally, February 23rd-26th, 2022

Accessibility: Audio descriptions, Digital Relaxed Performances, and Captioned Performances are available. Please see show page for more info, or call our box office at 416-504-7529

Add it to your bookshelf! Iphigenia and the Furies (On Taurian Land) & Antigone: will soon be available as a shiny new book, available from Playwrights Canada Press. Pre-order your copy now.