The Washington University Performing Arts Department presents Blood and Prayer: Two Plays About Women and Sacrifice

The Washington University Performing Arts Department presents two one-act plays that place actresses at centerstage. From Blood to Prayer: Two Plays About Women and Sacrifice features Ellen McLaughlin's Iphigenia and Other Daughters and Hélène Cixous' The Conquest of the School of Madhubaï. In Greek mythology, Iphigenia was the daughter of Agamemnon, the Mycenaean king who accidentally kills a stag in the goddess Diana's sacred forest. To make reparations to Diana, Agamemnon offers his daughter up as a sacrifice; he sends for Iphigenia, telling her that she is to marry the hero Achilles. When she arrives for the wedding, there's no groom, only her father, waiting with a knife. The modern retelling of the story covers the last few days in the life of Iphigenia (played by Bevin Ross).

The Conquest of the School of Madhubaï is based on the real-life story of Phoolan Devi, India's "bandit queen," represented in the character of Sakundeva (played by Tijuana Ricks), a low-caste woman from the town of Behmai. Sakundeva is sold into marriage at the age of 11 and suffers endless abuse from men in the village. She later escapes and leads a band of dacoits, or bandits, into her hometown to deliver punishment to the men who abused her.

The two plays were picked to be presented together because, despite their different cultural backgrounds, both stories have women, usually a play's foil or victim, as protagonist.

From Blood to Prayer: Two Plays About Women and Sacrifice is presented at 8 p.m. Sept. 23 and 24, 3 and 8 p.m. Sept. 25 and 3 p.m. Sept. 26 in the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre in the Mallinckrodt Center, on the Washington University campus. For more information or tickets (which cost $10), call the Edison Theatre box office (935-6543) or Metrotix (534-1111).

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