Priest/Blanche DuBois: Will Bonfiglio
Aphrodite: Ryan Lawson-Maeske
Ariadne: Cara Barresi
Hippolyta: Kristen Strom
Clytemnestra: Frankie Ferrari
Christine Mannon: Carl Overly
Phaedra/Polly & Ghost of Phaedra: Alicen Moser
Hippolytus/Edward: Anthony Kramer
Desdemona: Rachel Hanks
Helen Keller: Maggie Conroy
Lolita: Kristin Rion
Juliet: Rachel Tibbetts
Sharon Tate: Julia Crump
Cleopatra: Parvuna Sulaiman
Mary Todd Lincoln: Kristin Cassidy
Abigail Williams: Tori Thomas
Ruth Putnam: Jimmy Bernatowicz
Mary Warren: Katie Schoenfeld
Betty Parris: Marilyn Arnold
Susana Walcott: Hannah Grimm
Mercy Lewis: Halli Pattison
Cassandra: Reggie Pierre
Bernarda Alba: Natasha Toro
Oenone/Nurse: Cassidy Flynn
Angry Bird (Jing Wei): Pete Winfrey
Virginia Woolf: Jennifer Theby Quinn
The Song of Phaedra (Megara): Shannon Geier
Ballade of Ladies Who Died for Love: Ellie Schwetye
Dagny Taggart: Randy Brachman
Man: Randy Brachman
Hannah Höch: Joe Kercher
Io: Gabe Taylor
Laura Wingfield: Mitch Eagles
Sojourner Truth: Jeanitta Perkins
Phaedra's Phuneral is part of The Phaedra Phestival, a classical collaborative experiment and fundraiser for these theatrical companies: ERA, Poor Monsters, SATE, and YoungLiars. The Phestival takes place August 12-14, with a theatrical event occurring on each day. For more information about the Phestival, check out our facebook event.
ERA & Poor Monsters presents PHAEDRA'S PHUNERAL
Equally Represented Arts and Poor Monsters regret to inform you of the death of Phaedra. We request the honor of your presence at a phuneral service celebrating her life.
On Sunday, August 14th at 3PM.
We expect the attendance of many iconic and tragic women at this event. Please plan accordingly.
Admission can be acquired by donating to The Phaedra Phestival StARTup Campaign, which can be found here.
Phaedra's Phuneral features original eulogies!
We have called on tragic, female characters everywhere and from any time to help us mourn the loss of this epic Queen of Athens, daughter of Minos and Pasiphaë, by eulogizing her. We collected your eulogies to provide content to perform at Phaedra’s Phuneral so we might grieve again for our loss.*
*Phaedra has the misfortune of dying a lot: once in most iterations of the Hippolytus myth, as well as in every production of any of those iterations. Specific data is unavailable.
We are no longer accepting eulogy submission, but you are more than welcome to read what we have collected (found below).
"To Sweet Phaedra from Sister"
Sweet Phaedra . . . I learned of your death some little while after the event. (But oh, so long ago.) Then . . . oh, then I was wrapt in myself—my own grieving—and I did not know how close the dead remain. Now, so many years later, I have found some peace, some quiet time—and I know you are nearby. So I am, at last, writing this to you—perhaps I’m whispering in your ear. An appreciation, an offering of sisterhood, a plea.
I wept at your death when I heard of it. I learned you had died, of course, from the poets—from Euripides, from Seneca, those dear old boys. And I wept again—even in front of my students— when I tried (oh, so stumblingly) to introduce them into the beauty, the colossal sadness of your tale. The boys, some of them, snickered a little behind their books at the thought of the lustful step-mother. But I . . . oh, I knew! I knew that loss. That loss of beauty. Some few of my pupils understood—or got some hint of the truth. Girls mostly—and one or two of the gentler boys.
Now after—what? Some centuries, it seems—I have touched your story, your death, again. There is a lovely library here, and the other day I happened on a crumbling old volume of Euripides. They let me sit on the veranda—it’s quite spacious—and I read and amuse myself for hours looking out over the lawns. In a way it’s like my childhood—the white pillars, the kind servants. And I read your story from the lips of Euripides. I sometimes read aloud—until I notice another resident looking curiously at me.
We sisters! We who suffer the bitter barb on the arrow-tips of that plump little god. Aphrodite sent him to curse you and me.
What is that tree? The tree whose leaves have holes in them? They say that the holes are there because you, Phaedra, yielded to the temptation to watch, hidden on your veranda, as the young athletes would run and hurl and wrestle on a nearby field. Hippolytus was among them, wasn’t he? Beautiful boy! And you couldn’t take your eyes from his gleaming naked body. You watched. And as you watched you used a knitting needle to pierce, again and again, the leaves of this tree. To penetrate! Penetrate! And the tree has remembered to this day.
So beautiful is youth!
When I was sixteen that beauty ravaged me. I fell in love. We ran away and married. All I could know was that I loved him unendurably. But then . . . (LONG pause)
My Allan was like your Hippolytus—not much for girls. Dear Allan! No, he had not pledged himself to Diana, but he was chaste! No matter what I saw in that room. He was chaste. He was pure. I will believe that he was pure.
But I destroyed him.
And he was gone.
“Oh, whither is thy glorious beauty fled?”
Your Hippolytus was killed by a monster, as was my sweet, beautiful, delicate Allan. Only your monster was a bull from the sea. For Allan the brutal beast that crushed his life? It was I—I myself.
And then—oh, the searching! What was I seeking? Punishment? Consolation? Release? I hadn’t the courage to hang myself or fall upon a brazen sword. But I could prostrate myself upon the alter of the carnal gods. I would go to our school’s athletic competitions—watching, like you, those beautiful bodies. And I would choose one—and, discretely, make what was called in the gallant old days “an assignation”.
Did you hang yourself, Phaedra? Euripides says you did. Now, Euripides is a lovely man; He so understands us women. But I prefer to believe Seneca. He says you “fell upon your sword”—a wonderful phrase! Like all of those noble Roman generals. Such grand confidence! You fell upon your sword! How fitting!
And me? I visited those beautiful young bodies again and again. And, oh, I fell upon their swords. Many a time I fell upon their lovely swords. But always, always I was denied that great death which you embraced; all that was ever offered me was . . . that petite mort, which was . . . even in its satisfaction . . . so unsatisying.
And now, as I sit here—in this lovely estate, so like Belle Reve—as I sit here writing, I think of your death—and mine (which, I trust, is imminent). The gray—no, the white—in my hair is inescapable. No paper lanterns over the bulb can hide it any more. The end—of this curious life— is near. Will it be tragic? Will it be heroic? Surely you jest. It will be—perhaps comic. Or at best pathetic. In my dreams I would die at sea, attended by a ship’s doctor, a very young one, with a small blond mustache.
But, whatever the means or mode, I will soon join you. And so this is my plea: Guide me, sweet Phaedra. Guide me over the shoals of regret. Guide me over the deep chasms of loss. And guide me in evading the forgetfulness of the river Lethe—so that I may remember forever the beauty, the dreadful beauty of physical love—and youth.
I could never, for modesty, have stood and addressed you thus at your funeral. But there is a little stream at the edge of the estate. I will gently drop this letter into it. The stream leads to some other stream, which leads to a still further river. And so on. Perhaps, I hope, it will drift into the Lethe—or the Styx—and thence may come to you.
In mutual consolation, I am yours,
Blanche Perdita DuBois
(written by Steve Callahan)
From Queen Mary Todd Lincoln
(The patron of a mental institution, but not looney- more like overly medicated, opiates and that. Calm and rambling, a refined woman in an unrefined circumstance-like so many.)
She told me she was a queen. I told her, there is not one queen on American soil, dear, but if there were, I’d be the closest thing. Although “King Abraham” never listened to me much, did he? “Put her away, send her away…” Well you have to, don’t you? You have to go. You go, or they send you away. Isn’t that right? She knew that. Didn’t have to be told. Her room was just down from mine, I heard her sometimes. Singing, crying...both. Her crying sounded like a song, and her...you know. I don’t understand how she managed to- where she found the- they’re cautious around here, exceedingly careful not to give you anything you could….but they must have, or how did she...thrifty, she was. Is that the word for it? Like “conniving” but in a good way. Cunning. That will do- she was cunning. Always could mold people’s will to- I could never, I’ve never been heard like people heard her. Phaedra. Phaedra. Did you ever realize what her name sounds like? Phaedra. Like fade. Fade. She was fading, wasn’t she? Fading out. Since the day I met her. When she arrived at this institution, I knew her and I would be the- what am I saying- I didn’t know her well, just saw her around, you know, when they’d let us out and about the grounds. But I couldn’t resist coming nonetheless, I wanted to come here. I have no place speaking here, but- I wanted to be heard. An opportunity. At any rate. Here’s to Phaedra and her beautiful terrible fading out. Here, here! Do we have drinks? No, no- thought not. No matter.
(written by Colin McLaughlin)
Love. Love, my dear friends and admirers, is what brings us here today. Love is what drove this... this wonderfully DRIVEN, this COMPASSIONATE, woman, to her dire end.
I speak, of course, of our dear Phaedra. Phaedra, my wonderful sister-in-law. Well, perhaps we’re not “in-laws”. When her dear sister Ariadne married my dear brother Dionysus, I suppose it was not technically a marriage by “law” as much as it was by the Will of the Gods. (musing) I presume she’s also my niece? Let me think here... her father Minos and I both share Zeus as a father, though frankly, that could be said for half of Greece considering how much Love he’s spread around amongst the mortals and immortals alike... BUT that’s not why we’re today. No, we’re here to talk about LOVE. Phaedra’s love. Her exquisite, beautiful, admittedly useful Love. Could it be said that I could have influenced Phaedra to fall in Love with Theseus after he left her sister Ariadne on that island so that she may soon become pride to my dear brother Dionysus, instead of Theseus? Perhaps. Could it be said that this turn of events put her in the perfect position to be my unknowing agent of destruction of Hippolytus? Did it happen to work in my favor that her Love ultimately led to the downfall of her stepson, a man who scorned me to SOLELY worship that goody-two-sandals cuntress Artemis? Of COURSE it did! But does that make her Love any less worthy of our praise? Absolutely not! If anything, a mortal’s Love that’s useful to a God, PARTICULARLY a god whose realm IS Love, is even MORE worthy!
I suppose what I’m trying to say is, while Phaedra is with us no more, neither is Hippolytus, which leaves me very, very happy. And isn’t that worth something?... The answer is yes. My happiness is worth very, very much. And if a few people had to make a premature journey to the drearier realm of my dear, dark uncle of the underworld… Uncleworld? (laughing too hard at her own joke)… well, that’s a price I’m MORE than willing to pay.
(written by Ben Lewis)
I’ve always wondered why we’re nice to the dead when they were dickholes when they were living.
It’s something we are taught since the first death of some great-aunt or grandma we barely knew. Our mothers dressed us up in the our darkest hues of black to go stare at a corpse that we try to make it look as alive as possible. We fought tooth and nail to not go to the funerals because we hated these relatives. These bastards tortured us throughout our brief encounters with racist comments about the busboy, ballistic rug-burns from being babysat by them, sometimes an inappropriate session of incest…
But hey, it’s Greece.
And yet, we are expected to forget all these things because our great aunt or grandma is dead.
Their death erases the horrible things they have done.
We eulogize them.
Build a nude statue in an evocative pose for their memory.
With that in mind, I’d liked to start by saying Phaedra was such a bitch.
I was the first Amazon to marry. Period. That was great achievement for my people. Plus I married rich, which was twice as great. And then Phaedra comes along to steal my husband, my son, my dignity from me. So, of course, I’m pissed. Being Ares’s daughter, I figured there was only one way to cope with the internal rage that was boiling within. I gather my Amazons to wage war upon the bitch. And by the time I get back to my love Theseus, the harlot has turned him from me.
And he stabs me.
And not only does she do that, but then decides Theseus isn’t enough for her, and goes after my boy. MY BOY. Leading my boy to his death.
What a fucking whore.
That’s what I wanted to say today so badly.
She is a whore.
But when I was getting stabbed by my husband, I had a sort of epiphany. As my husband’s sword was ripping me in two, I realized that even though she was a bitch, there was another force playing their part in this game. Phaedra and I were being played by the same entity, and you know what, I can’t really blame her for that. We were just two chess pieces in their fucked up game of life.
The force that fucked up my life wasn’t Phaedra…
But the gods.
Those lofty bastards are the ones who fucked my life, Phaedra’s life, Theseus’s life, and my baby Hippolytus’ life.
It wasn’t Phaedra’s fault at all. She didn’t want to attract Theseus to the point that he abandons me on a moore, no! It was fucking Aphrodite, casting damn love spells everywhere because she can. She should know to STAY OUT OF LOVE’S WAY.
I didn’t even think of war until this enormous rage, something I have never felt before, overcame me. It was no regular desire. Like a hot piece of iron seared my heartstrings. It was after the fact that I realized my father Ares was the one that wanted me to go to war, not myself. How could I deny a Godly desire? AND my father’s wishes, too. It’s like they say, like father, like daughter
And fuck that fucker Poseidon. He listens to my husband under a lovelorn spell and curses my boy. MY BOY, without a second thought, just pulls little beautiful Hippolytus into the sea. A benevolent God of the overworld should not treat their people like animals.
And the one that let this all happen: Zeus. God of Gods. He has a higher standard than all these “gods’ casting their spells for ‘fun’, and ‘ entertainment’, and ‘revenge’. Why? Shouldn’t a God of Gods be more responsible? More respectable than to let a adulterous, violent, incestusos relationship happen?
We did some shitty things, all three of us. But it wasn’t our fault. Today, all of you that point fingers at Phaedra, I say to you...okay, she may have done some bad stuff, but she was just the vehicle for the Gods’ actions. She may have been a bitch, but it wasn't her fault. She wanted to love, and the Gods’ took advantage of her desires.
Well, except Hades. He just took her soul to the Underworld. But, that’s beside the point.
Phaedra, I’ll miss you.
Let’s take down those fuckers when we get to Olympus.
(written by Jimmy Bernatowicz)
"For Phaedra and Her Days"
(Lolita enters in dark glasses, eating black candy, and begins swinging a black hula hoop round her hips.)
45, 46, 47, 48, 49...
Dear, dead Phaedra.
I wish I had more than questions to offer you. But your memory begs asking. Do I grieve for you as a mother? As a sister? A sister in lust, perhaps; a mother in nothing more than idea. Yet we... we are two of a kind. We, who get fucked in whispers and loved in the shadows. We, the apple of his eye, though some of us don’t fall too far from the tree. Some of us long to be back in the caress of a canopy, fondled by the sun until yet another harvest.
50, 51, 52...
I want only to learn from your story. You, who were so much of me. Do you remember your days as a nymphet? I imagine your days as my own. Days spent in the sun under the gaze of a man who could never quite reach us. Drenched in the rain- a second skin clinging like the peel of the ripest fruit. Lounging, kissed by the sweetest rays of sun, men’s eyes on nothing but you. Do you remember your body, sister? Your pale curves, broken by a smooth line of cream. Your legs protruding from the sweetest gown they ever did see.
Did you know your power? I admit, dear one, that I imagine you as frightened as I. The first time you moved a mountain of a man with a single glance. There is fear in that power, sweet mother. Nobody ever tells you, but there is fear in those firsts and fear in those newfound freedoms, and fear in the stark light of day when you are faced with what you can do.
When does it go away? When does it saunter out the door, replaced with a skin-tight confidence?
Wherever you are now ,Phaedra, I must confess. You light up my life. You stoke the fire in my loins. You inspire me- taking what you wanted, damning the consequences.
(She speaks in a low voice and bites her lip.)
Just between us, how was he? Did he hold you in the palm of his hand while you wrapped him around your finger? Did you share a breath while he fumbled with his impudence and transfixed you to the wall, and the bed, and the kitchen sink, and the hallway stairs, and...
53, 54, 55, 56...
Did you have yourself a lovely, pretty, tall little, pretty little time?
And what of your futures? Did you think, in the heat of that moment, of the stolen glances at the dinner table? Of the trips to town where he followed dirt roads with his fingers on your thigh? A breakdown Mother, once it starts I don’t know how to stop it how can I stop it, how can I stop him, how can I end it, how can I quit, how can I.....?
(She regains herself) Sister, I love you. I hope for you. I plead for you. Object to object, dust to dust. Men loved us and lost us, sweet Phaedra.
You were so charmingly Old World; but then, that’s what I adore about you.
(written by Gabe Taylor)
Like a lot of you all (I’m guessing) I guess I didn’t really “know” Phaedra
But... it felt like I did. You know?
I was really astounded when the king and her first first
Do you remember?
She was all over the news when they first started off sort of seeing each other, her and the
king? I was really little then, so “the news” was, like, the boringest thing in the world to me, but
one night I was in the living room with my dad watching the television
And one of those dumb King’s Conquests segments came on
(I didn’t really know what that meant, then -- it sounds so crude and stupid now)
But they showed this picture of him and Phaedra on one of their first dates (the opera, I believe)
And when I saw her
She was just
She was beautiful.
And in part it was her style of course, she had the most amazing eye for style, but it was so
much more than that
She held herself
This... look in her eyes.
I had never seen anybody so... sure. So confident. And not in like, a, mean way. A definite
From that moment my life was everything Phaedra, I cut out every picture of her in every
magazine and covered my walls with them, I devoured her interviews, to the point that I don’t
think there’s been a 12-year-old better versed in foreign policy
And the wedding. Oh the wedding. I refused to leave the house: my eyes were glued to that
I missed my cousin’s real wedding for a broadcast of Phaedra’s. I wouldn’t leave the house. I
was grounded for weeks after that, but my parents knew I’d never forgive them if they didn’t let
I’d never seen are more palpable love in my life: the way they looked at each other, I don’t even
know how to describe it. Pride, perhaps? Pride not exactly in themselves or each other, a
prideness in the fact that they had done it: They had found each other, the two smartest people
in the world, and there they were, pledging eternal love. And all of Athens in the streets.
And all the world watching.
But you could see that didn't matter to them.
Looking back, it seems weird, to have all of this love and admiration for someone we didn’t
know. Especially now that we--
But it didn’t feel weird.
She showed me it was possible.
To do something and to find someone...
That there can be power in what you feel. Even if it leads you astray, and even if it ruins everything around you, and even if it destroys
everything you know.
Only a feeling so powerful can--
A feeling that overwhelms us.
It is, it must
have some truth in...
(No longer speaking to the audience.)
If the best person you’ve ever known followed her heart, and it killed her, what does it mean for the rest of us?
“If it’s love so strong
How can it be wrong?”
(After a moment, she walks home to Verona, heeding nobody around her)
(written by Mitch Eagles)
"Virgina Woolf Says Goodbye to Phaedra"
Toasting is not my style. Perhaps it's a lack of humor on my part… So, I offer a few words as eulogy. Mind you, I have no problem speaking to you across boundaries of time and space and don't abide by the proscribed limits of reality.
Much of what I know about you is, of course, second-hand, filtered through men's mouths. Ah well… Our bond is that we suffered death by our own hands. We did so embracing our power and finding freedom at long last. I chose drowning as my release. You were far more daring in your actions. I, instead, was a warrior with words.
You were beautiful, exotic, and raging. I was despairing, yes, but I was rather plain by comparison. You may be a construct of myth and fiction but you live on enfleshed by actors who seek themselves and meanwhile, convey your struggles. I, on the other hand, lived as a real woman. To myself, I was most real when I was writing. Whatever remains of me you can find in sidelong glances that dare to peer through the leaves of books. I was quiet in my rebellion. You were all passion and larger than life. Appropriately so… I desired a room of my own and you inhabited a kingdom, but somehow this was not enough to sustain either of us. Yes, sister, we are different but not ill-matched.
You could say we have a kinship of sex and madness. You had your Hippolytus, and I my Vita. In the end they both drove us mad. Was it in part because we feared our aging bodies? We knew they would abandon us for younger love? "How intricately love crosses love; love makes knots; love brutally tears them apart. I have been knotted; I have been torn apart." Leonard never interfered with my loving Vita; he wanted to see me happy. You had a more difficult task. You had issues of honor to deal with and a position to uphold. You had to be a model for your children and your subjects. You had a moral responsibility to your husband. But, don't think I didn't have my own version. Precision in punctuation and word-choice was my code of honor.
Your fate to betray your husband and have sex with your stepson was sealed by something else. You were the pawn of gods. You were their argument, the subject of a philosophical rant. It makes it easier to dismiss us as suffering from divine madness. You had philosophers, gods, and poets to analyze and judge your actions. I had Freud. But, who's to say? What I do know is that you and I loved completely, though illicitly. I had never experienced lovemaking that was as satisfying as it was with Vita. Like you, I had to conceal my love. As such, I contained my desire in prose, but never regretted the moment I said "yes." It was for Vita I wrote: "But look--he flicks his hand to the back of his neck. For such gestures one falls hopelessly in love for a lifetime." You understand, yes. "The moment was all; the moment was enough."
My insatiable desire drove me in my work. I pushed. I couldn't relax. I drove myself until I wished for death. "Rolling over, the waves will shoulder me under. Everything falls in a tremendous shower, dissolving me."
I begged her to throw off her man. My "fantasies were stirred by dark on the river." I put down my pen and walked out of my house, straight down to the River Ouse. I did not intend to sit at the river's edge for contemplation or mourning. I was not going to lie in the cool grass, gaze at clouds. Smell roses or violets. Make flower crowns like our sister Ophelia. No, I walked to the river's edge and entered the clear water. I had worn my coat with large pockets and gathered stones. They would shoulder me under.
Your death was grand, even our sister, Hedda, would agree. She played with guns, but you plunged your lover's sword into your heart right before his father's eyes, your husband! Disconsolate Abbie murdered her own child as proof of her love. I found death a last resort and an incontrovertible solution to what I thought was a disease of the mind. In fact, it was a broken heart, but "I did not go out into the street and break a bottle in the gutter as a sign of rage. Trembling with ardour, I pretended that I was not surprised."
You and I stand in a long line of women damned for their wish to be free and love whom they were meant to love. We were not intended to conceal who we are.
In all your complexity, you had a soul, Phaedra. For that, let us celebrate.
(written by Bonnie Taylor)
The 14th piece of Phaedra will be a spine carved from gold. Although it might be easier to find the pieces than the gold, don’t you think? I used to wear it like cotton, and I never noticed the weight. I would drink pearls like wine from gold cups, when I was a woman. When I was a goddess, my temples blazed gold and sparkled with jewels. I am Iset on earth, patron goddess of sinners. My splendor brought men from across all the seas to worship. But when I was Pharaoh all my gold was taken. The crown, the throne, the belts made from rings and rings of engraved gold. But I’ll find enough for a spine somewhere. And the other pieces of her soul that have been scattered all over the city. My sister and I have been searching for days. I need all 13 pieces and a spine made from gold before I can resurrect her. Even for goddesses, magic has limits . But She who loved Hippolytus will rise again. I have performed resurrections before, I can do it again. It is foretold. The men who come to mourn for her are sweet things. So full of love and afraid of dying. But the women here all know that this death is an illusion, just as my own was an illusion. Because women are daughters of Iset. They have her name engraved in their rib cages. I will carve the secret name of Aphrodite into the golden spine I’ll make for Phaedra, because it was Aphrodite who willed her love and so willed her death. But Phaedra will rise again. Like Osiris, who was my husband and my brother, rose again. We are the vessels of goddesses. The scales of Osiris that will weigh every soul won’t tip over something as pure as the truth of the body. When a woman wants a man, whoever he is, that wanting is foretold. And if empires fall and death is cheated, then who are we to question the divine? Phaedra will rise again. And she will be honored in the halls of Iset, a daughter who carried out her purpose. There was magic in her love and there will come magic from her death. Weep, mortals, for the loss of this woman. A woman who will be as immortal as the goddess who destroyed her in this life. But don’t expect to weep for long.
(written by Parvuna Sulaiman)