The Helen Project is a collaboration with Amy Clare Tasker for live and virtual platforms.
To track its development, follow key players on Twitter: @AmyClareTasker @TotheMoonUK @AngelaBull @GAPsalon @WayBetterThanTV #HelenProject
Visit the HELEN PROJECT: ONLINE EDITION now for an interactive fiction experience!
So, what is this?
What is this.
There is no single answer– and there is no single version of the HELEN PROJECT.
The modular text is swappable, unstable and alive.
Rather than “write a script,” my co-creator Amy Clare Tasker and I have “built a kit” of textual fragments from which artistic teams will create their own version of the story.
There are a few rules, there are a lot of choices, and no two editions will be alike. Like the true Helen, (whose inner life is emphatically lost to us despite the fame of her outward appearance), the piece is un-canon-izable
An overabundance of fragments is what we are given of Helen– a few lines in the Iliad, classical paintings that tell conflicting stories, a mention in Goethe’s Faust, a couple of modern poems– so that is what we transform, and pass on.
In the theatrical performance, the audience visits Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world, in her bedroom on five insomniac nights.
Over these nights, over her life, what changes and what doesn’t? What changes in how she is seen, and what changes in how she sees herself? The youngest night of deciding to leave her Spartan husband and go with her lover to Troy. The hardest night in the thick of the Trojan War. The ironic night she must leave Troy, backtracking to the Spartan home and husband she had once fled. Then the quiet night at home, later, trying to make sense of it all.
Four nights in Helen’s life. And the fifth?
The endless night, the night we are all in, the cultural night.
The Helen of this night is named “The Face.” She is not the Helen who sees, but the Helen who is seen by others; she speaks in found texts about herself, ancient and modern, in recorded vocal mash-ups scoring collage projections that appear on the actor’s moving body.
These texts have told us for centuries who Helen is, without ever asking her “Who are you?”
Here are some of the sources that inspired, frustrated, and enlivened us as we wrote this woman’s story:
The Iliad by Homer (I prefer the Lombardo translation, but everyone’s got their own opinion… that said, if they don’t agree with me, they’re wrong, of course…)
Troilus and Cressida, Act II, Scene 2 (1602) by Shakespeare
The Legend of Fair Helen, as Told by Homer, Goethe, and Others (1905) by Eugene Oswald
The Face that Launch’d a Thousand Ships (1909-ish) by Christopher Marlowe
Helen (1919) by modernist poet H.D.
Helen of Troy (1956) super-incredible trailer, for the epic film of the same name by Warner Brothers
Helen of Troy Does Countertop Dancing (1995), which you totally should seriously read, by Margaret Atwood
Rihanna Called “Helen of Troy” in $20 Million Lawsuit (2012) tabloid article from SingersRoom Magazine
While building the base text, Amy and I diligently co-wrote in complete tandem, to the point where we forget who began writing what fragment and who finished it, because both of us have drafted, edited, and rewritten every idea in the play in a series of iterative passes where we swap fragments, re-swap, and swap again. The end result is a Helen who neither of us could have imagined without each other.
We hope you’ll imagine her with us… starting RIGHT NOW.
Right now, we have a small interactive fiction installation with some of Helen’s text living as the HELEN PROJECT: ONLINE EDITION.
As the textual kit for the creation of live shows finds collaborators across the globe, I hope eventually to expand the online component alongside it, allowing anyone with a wifi connection to engage in the creation and re-creation of this icon.
No single performed iteration can contain all of Helen, and no single online experience could do so either, but we’re excited to share this material in many forms and formats, and welcome you into the investigation with us.
In short… it’s ON.
So, check back here for periodic updates about live and virtual editions of HELEN PROJECT, subscribe to Amy’s e-newsletter to hear about this work and other cool stuff, or follow key HELEN players on Twitter: @AmyClareTasker @TotheMoonUK @AngelaBull @GAPsalon @WayBetterThanTV #HelenProject
This very second, if you want to, you can read more about the process and the show in Amy’s series of Helen blog posts, in her Directors Notes for the May ’13 DIVAfest workshop, and on her coming soon page.
October 7, 2014, London in the “Voices from the Edge” festival.
June 15th 2014, London at Stand-Up Tragedy‘s Greek Tragedy Night in Brixton, a short excerpt starring Angela Bull.
July 11th 2014, London as a proscenium show in the Lost Theatre’s Face to Face Festival of solo performance.
July 13th 2014, at the Lost Theater in a one-on-one immersive installation.
March 2014, at Southbank Centre’s WOW Festival in London, short solo performance.
May 2013, at DIVAfest in San Francisco, first public workshop. One weekend as proscenium show, one weekend as immersive installation, with a team of 5 Helens.