AN ILIAD featauring Anne Mason Photo by Connor Novotny

Laramie’s Relative Theatrics and Lander’s Communal Pancake Performing Arts are collaborating to present a production of “AN ILIAD,” a play by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare. “AN ILIAD” will be performed January 18-21, 2023, at 7 p.m. in the Lander Library Carnegie Room.

Poetry and humor, the ancient tale of the Trojan War, and the modern world collide in this captivating theatrical experience. The setting is simple: the empty theater. The time is now: the present moment; a lone figure stands onstage. “AN ILIAD” is a modern-day retelling of Homer’s classic and features a single storyteller, the Poet (Anne Mason), who is fated to travel from one town to the next, telling the story of the Trojan War. 

“During the course of the play, you come to realize that the Poet has been charged with the task of telling the story for thousands of years and has laid witness to every major conflict in Western – and global – history since 2,000 BCE,” said Anne Mason, actor and producing artistic director for Relative Theatrics. “The Homeric epic is quoted, paraphrased, and contextualized for today’s modern, English-speaking audience … but there’s still a bit of the ancient Greek language sprinkled in!”

Relative Theatrics originally produced the play in Laramie during fall 2019, featuring Mason as the Poet, and directed by Riverton native Andrew Thornton.

“I began preparing for the September 2019 performance in February of the same year,” Mason said. “In addition to reading a couple of translations of Homer’s ‘The Iliad,’ this show also required an intense amount of research – everything from ancient Greek civilization and Greek mythology to military tactics and world history. I also spent many hours with University of Wyoming professor Dr. Laura De Lozier learning the ancient Greek language in the text.”

Before “AN ILIAD,” Mason had done several small-cast shows, but this was her first time being alone on stage. “I was surprised to learn how lonely it can be to vulnerably lean into a piece without the support and camaraderie of fellow castmates,” Mason said. “It is rigorous and requires an incredible amount of self-accountability. It also means that the pressure is on you to bring it every night – you can’t rely on someone else’s energy to pick up any slack. I found that I needed to engage in a two-hour warm-up ritual for each performance in order to get my voice, my body, and my mind primed for the show.”

In summer 2022, Mason connected with Amara Fehring, the artistic director for Communal Pancake Performing Arts. The pair quickly decided that a collaboration would be an excellent creative opportunity for Lander and Wyoming. 

“Once we decided to co-produce a show, it was a matter of finding the right play, and we thought ‘AN ILIAD’ would be the perfect fit,” Mason said. “It is Communal Pancake and Relative Theatrics’ hope to promote the idea of theater as a platform that fosters open civic dialogue while highlighting the eternally relevant aspects of human life.”

In addition to the performance, the team is providing arts education programming based on the play in Fremont County. Over this past week, Mason has conducted workshops in multiple Fremont County high school and middle school classrooms rooted in the play’s content. 

“I am a huge proponent of arts education and of using theater as a means to better access scholastic content,” said Mason. “It has been a treat to bring workshops to Fremont County students that apply theater skills in order to explore character development, dramatic literature, and classical text.”

“AN ILIAD” runs January 18-21 at 7 p.m. in the Lander Library Carnegie Room. The Carnegie Room is an intimate space, an ideal atmosphere for the play’s delivery. However, seating will be limited. RSVP by visiting the Communal Pancake online box office. Tickets will be available at the door, depending on availability. Tickets are general admission and are available at four different price points to ensure everyone can find a ticket to fit their budget. For more information about the cast, the play, and Communal Pancake Performing Arts, visit www.communalpancake.com

“AN ILIAD” is supported by the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund and the LOR Foundation.