SRT’s 20th Anniversary Summer Festival

Nevertheless They Persisted: Hecuba/Helen


Listen to the interview about Hecuba/Helen with Director Rush Rehm and co-adapter and actress Courtney Walsh, on KALW's Open Air. It is the first interview on the program:

To celebrate our 20th anniversary (June – August 2018), Stanford Repertory Theater mounts our most ambitious Summer Festival to date, Nevertheless They Persisted. The festival features a new adaptation of Euripides’ Hecuba and Helen, focusing on two mythic women who seize control of their destinies in startling ways and triumph over the men who try to dominate them.   

On opposite sides of the great Trojan War, Queen Hecuba of Troy becomes its emblematic victim, while Helen of Sparta is reviled as its cause. Despite their apparent differences, each woman turns the tables on those who have wreaked havoc on their lives. Joined together for the first time, and presented in one evening, the iconic heroines of Hecuba/Helen speak to each other and to us, in both searingly tragic and surprisingly comic ways. 

 Courtney Walsh (Hecuba), Lea Zawada (Polyxena) in SRT's  Hecuba-Helen

Courtney Walsh (Hecuba), Lea Zawada (Polyxena) in SRT's Hecuba-Helen

A veteran of 12 seasons with SRT, Courtney Walsh plays both Hecuba and Helen (she recently appeared to rave reviews in the title role of Phèdre at Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco, and co-directed and acted in SRT’s Moby Dick - Rehearsed, which won TBA’s Outstanding Play, Direction and Acting Ensemble). Other principal roles are performed by Joe Estlack (Shotgun Players, Magic Theater, San Jose Stage), Doug Nolan (ACT, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Word for Word), and Jennie Brick (SF Playhouse, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Sonoma Arts Live). Original music is composed by New York composer Michael Keck (ten seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, TBA’s Outstanding Sound Design for SRT’s Moby Dick - Rehearsed); choreography by Aleta Hayes (Satan in the international tour of Robert Wilson’s The Temptation of St. Anthony); sets and costumes by Connie Strayer (TheatreWorks, Opera San Jose, Oakland Ballet); and lighting by Michael Ramsaur (Berkeley Rep, Broadway by the Bay, Chicago Art Institute). SRT Artistic Director Rush Rehm directs Hecuba/Helen, which he translated and adapted from the ancient Greek.  

With stirring music, vibrant choreography, and stunning visual effects (developed by the artists who created SRT’s award-winning Moby Dick - Rehearsed), Hecuba/Helen reminds us of war’s consequences on the women who pick up the pieces and carry on. Set after the sack of Troy, Hecuba tells the story of a fallen queen facing a life of slavery and forced migration, who exacts revenge by exerting power no one suspected she possessed. In Helen, Euripides offers a marvelous twist on the traditional story – a phantom Helen, rather than Helen herself, was sent to Troy! Exposing the shadowy justifications for an unjust war, the falsely maligned heroine uses her wit and cunning to save her war-hero husband and herself. 

Hecuba/Helen plays Thursday - Saturday, 8 pm and Sunday 2 pm, from July 27 through August 19, 2018, at the newly remodeled Roble Studio Theater, 375 Santa Teresa, on the Stanford Campus. Free parking. Tickets $25 adults/$15 students and unemployed. Purchase tickets online at or phone  650-725-5838 and leave a message, or email us at We will accept ticket orders beginning April 15, 2018. 

In addition to our production of Hecuba/Helen, SRT’s Nevertheless They Persisted includes a free Monday night film series introduced by Stanford faculty. We screen three films by the Oscar-winning Greek film director Michael Cacoyannis dealing with Euripidean tragic heroines: Electra, Trojan Women, and Iphigenia. We follow with three films by the great German director Margarethe von Trotta exploring three inspiring - and problematic - exemplars of female resistance: Marianne and Juliane (an Antigone-like exploration of the life of Gudrun Ensslin of the/Baader-Meinhoff gang), Hannah Arendt (on the life of the great German intellectual and political theorist who escaped to the US in 1941), and The Lost Honour of Katherine Blum.  

The festival also includes an all-day community symposium exploring the afterlife of the Trojan War in literature and art. Lectures by Richard Martin (Classics, Stanford), Professor Heather Hadlock (Music, Stanford), Katerina Zacharia (Classics and Film, Loyola-Marymount University), William Eddelman, Theater Studies,  Stanford), and Elizabeth Ten-Hove (Ph.D candidate, Classics, Stanford), are interspersed with short performances by the SRT company (Euripides’ Orestes, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida, Goethe’s Faust, George Seferis’ Helen, among others) and a panel discussion with SRT artists working on Hecuba/Helen. The symposium takes place on the Stanford campus, Saturday August 4, 2018. 

Finally, in conjunction with Stanford Continuing Studies, we offer an evening course (June 27 - August 8) entitled “Euripides Our Contemporary.” Taught by Rush Rehm (Professor of Theater and Classics), the course explores Euripides’ plays dealing with women and war.


SRT gratefully thanks the following for their generous support of our 2018 Nevertheless They Persisted Festival: Stanford Continuing Studies, Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Education, Office of the Provost and the President, School of Humanities and Sciences, Department of Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS), Department of Classics, Graduate School of Education, McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Office of the Vice President for the Arts, Stanford Humanities Center, Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, Department of Music, Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Office of Religious Life, the Clayman Institute, Department of Religious Studies, Department of English, Department of Art and Art History, the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, and generous gifts from Brad and Judy O’Brien, Todd and Susan Makler, and William Eddelman. 

The Trojan War, Then and Now

Stanford Continuing Studies and SRT Community Symposium

9 am – 5 pm, Saturday August 4, 2018

As part of SRT’s 20th anniversary summer festival, Nevertheless They Persisted: Euripides’ Hecuba/Helen, we offer an all-day community symposium, “The Trojan War, Then and Now,” exploring the afterlife of the Trojan War in literature and art. 

The symposium combines lectures, scenes performed by the SRT company, a panel discussion with the artists who have collaborated on the Hecuba/Helen production. The day beings with a continental breakfast, and we break for a delightful catered lunch (with the opportunity to talk informally with the lecturers and actors), and enjoy afternoon tea and cookies before our final panel. The symposium takes place on the Stanford campus Saturday, August 4, 2018, and advanced registration is required. To register for the symposium, please visit the Stanford Continuing Studies website:

Stanford Professor Richard Martin (Classics) will provide insights into the way the Trojan War has entered the mythic consciousness of the West, and Professor Heather Hadlock (Music) will discuss the Trojan War and opera. Professor Katerina Zacharia (Classics and Film, Loyola-Marymount University) considers how the Trojan War has influenced modern Greek literature and film, and symposium favorite Professor William Eddelman (Stanford Theater Studies) will talk about how visual artists and theater designers have adapted the Trojan War in their work. 

We follow each lecture with a lively question and answer period, and the lectures are interspersed with short performances by the SRT company, including scenes from Euripides’ Orestes and Andromache, Marlowe's Faust, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida, George Seferis’ "Helen," and others, all dealing with the symposium theme, The Trojan War, Then and Now.

Following afternoon tea and cookies, the day ends with a panel discussion with SRT artists who have brought Euripides’ Hecuba/Helen to life on stage. We encourage all symposiasts to see the production before the symposium, or you may join us at the theater that evening. Hecuba/Helen plays Thursday – Saturday, 8 pm, and Sunday at 2 pm, from July 26 through August 19, at Roble Studio Theater, in the historic Roble Gym, 375 Santa Teresa.


Euripides Our Contemporary

Continuing Studies Course taught by Rush Rehm

SRT Artistic Director; Professor of Classics and Theater, Stanford University


As part of Stanford Repertory's 20th anniversary summer festival Nevertheless They Persisted: Euripides' Hecuba/Helen, “Euripides Our Contemporary” will focus on Euripides' plays that deal with female protagonists, especially in relationship to war and violence. Although Euripides wrote and directed his plays in ancient Athens, we keep returning to his tragedies for their uncanny modernity, and the course will focus on this aspect of his work. 

Over six sessions, we will read and discuss some of Euripides’ most famous tragedies (Medea, Trojan Women, Electra), but also several of his lesser-known works (Andromache, Hecuba, Iphigenia in Aulis, Iphigenia among the Taurians, Helen). In each of these, a tragic heroine “takes on” a world not of her own making. Drawing on a combination of resilience, will power, deception, courage, and endurance, these powerful female characters face the direst of circumstances. However, surrender is not in their vocabulary, or if it is, it comes with such depth of understanding as to constitute its own form of resistance. 

Euripides’ tragic heroines are full of surprises, shifting the ground out from under our expectations in the audience. Alive to shifting sympathies and dynamics of power, his plays provoke us by unsettling our expectations and disturbing our comfort level. Part of his genius lies in his daring theatricality, joining tragedy and humor, suffering and escape, irony and heartfelt emotion. We recognize a modern sensibility here, one that justifies considering Euripides very much as our contemporary. Join the conversation with an ancient playwright who is – for better or worse – one of us. 

The course meets Wednesday, 7 – 8:50 pm, June 27, July 11, July 18, July 25 (attending Hecuba/Helen preview, 8 pm, Roble Studio Theater), August 1, and August 8, 2018. 

To enroll in the course, please visit the Stanford Continuing Studies website,

Please note: The class also will attend a preview performance of SRT's Hecuba/Helen production.  Students are encouraged to attend SRT’s free Monday night film festival, where we will screen films based on Euripides directed by Michael Cacoyannis (Electra, Trojan Women, and Iphigenia), as well as three films directed by Margarethe von Trotta (The Lost Honor of Katerina Blum, Marianne and Juliane, and Hannah Arendt). Enrollment also includes free attendance at SRT’s community symposium The Trojan War, Then and Now (Saturday August 4, 2018,) featuring lectures by Professors Mary-Kay Gamel (Classics, UC Santa Cruz), Katerina Zacharia (Classics and Film Studies, Loyola-Marymount University), Richard Martin (Classics, Stanford), and William Eddelman (Theater and Performance Studies, Stanford), short performances from relevant plays, and a catered lunch. 


Film Series 

Monday evenings, 7 pm

Sapp Auditorium, Sapp Center for Science Teaching and Learning, 376 Lomita Drive, Stanford campus

Free to the public; no admission after 7:10 pm


As part of our 2018 Nevertheless They Persisted Festival, SRT and Stanford Continuing Studies present a free film series focusing on powerful female protagonists who confront patriarchy in its various forms. We feature three films from two Academy Award winning film directors, the Greek Michael Cacoyannis (his famous ‘trilogy’ based on plays of Euripides) and the German Margarethe von Trotta. Each film is introduced by a Stanford or guest faculty member, who leads a discussion with the audience after the screening. 


July 9    Cacoyannis, Electra (1962)                                                Prof. Rush Rehm

July 16  Cacoyannis, Trojan Women  (1971)                           Prof. Katerina Zacharia

July 23  Cacoyannis, Iphigenia (1977)                                    Prof. Katerina Zacharia

July 30  von Trotta, Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1975)       Prof. Matthew Smith

Aug. 6   von Trotta, Marianne and Juliane (1981)                           Prof. Tobias Wolff

Aug. 13 von Trotta, Hannah Arendt   (2012)                       Prof. Branislav Jakovljevic