Troilus and Cressida (2012)

Troilus and Cressida

  • March 28 - November 4, 2012
  • Produced in association with New York’s Public Theater
  • Directed by Rob Melrose | By William Shakespeare
Run Time:Two hours and 58 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

What are we fighting for?

The war has lasted seven drawn-out years. Few illusions remain about the glory of armed conflict—or anything else for that matter, including love. Caught in the chaos is a traitor’s daughter whose romance with a prince is doomed as a casualty of wartime politics. Set during the Trojan War, Shakespeare’s cynical and bitterly funny in-dictment of the futility of war is made more immediate in OSF’s production, placed against the backdrop of the U.S. conflict in the contemporary Middle East.

Audience notes: theatrical mist, fog and strobe lights are used in this production. There is the sound of gunfire and explosions.

This production of Troilus and Cressida is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national theatre initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

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Audience notes: theatrical mist, fog and strobe lights are used in this production. There is the sound of gunfire and explosions.

Seven years have passed since the start of the Trojan War, set in motion when Paris, a Trojan, snatched the beauti-ful Helen away from her Greek kin. The war stands in a stalemate with the Greek army camped outside Troy. One Trojan warrior, Troilus, refuses to go to battle due to his deep ardor for Cressida, also a citizen of Troy. Cressida’s scheming uncle, Pandarus, agrees to be the warrior’s messenger and sings Troilus’ praises to his niece. Left alone, Cressida confesses that she loves Troilus in return.

Meanwhile, in the Greek camp, the warrior Ulysses warns his fellow commanders that the absence of the legend-ary Achilles from battle has compromised the morale of the other fighters. Achilles spends his days in bed with his lover, Patroclus, mocking the cause. A visiting Trojan warrior, Aeneas, challenges the Greek camp to send forward a fighter for single combat with Hector the following day. Though the Greeks believe the Trojans are baiting Achil-les, they resolve to put forward the brutish Ajax to incite Achilles’ jealousy.

In Troy, Priam’s sons argue whether Helen is worth the protracted conflict. Hector claims that his brother Paris should give her up. Later, Pandarus arranges a secret meeting for Troilus and Cressida in which they exchange oaths of devotion and spend the night together. Unbeknownst to them, Cressida’s father, Calchas, a defector, pleads with the Greeks to have a valuable prisoner, Antenor, traded to Troy in exchange for his daughter. When the Greek soldiers come for Cressida, the lovers vow to be faithful to each other.

Hector comes to the Greek camp to see his match, and Ajax takes up the challenge. Troilus accompanies Hector and asks Ulysses to take him where Cressida is being held. Concealed, he watches as she appears to break her vow with the Greek warrior Diomedes, who takes the sleeve Troilus gave her. Troilus, disbelieving, vows to attack Dio-medes.

In the final battle, Diomedes and Ajax pursue and fight with Troilus. Patroclus is killed, sending Achilles into fear-some rage. He comes upon the unarmed Hector and slays him. As the battle ends, Troilus laments the death of Hector, vowing revenge.

National Endowment for the Arts

This production of Troilus and Cressida is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national theatre initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

Artistic Team

Rob Melrose
Scenic Designer
Michael Locher
Costume Designer
Christal Weatherly
Lighting Designer
Jiyoun Chang
Orginal Music/Sound Design
Cliff Caruthers
Lue Morgan Douthit
Voice and Text Director
Rebecca Clark Carey

Cast List

Tony DeBruno*
Bernard White*
Ramiz Monsef*
Raffi Barsoumian*
Fajer Al-Kaisi*
Elijah Alexander*
Michael Elich*
Rex Young*
Barzin Akhavan*
Peter Macon*
Kevin Kenerly*
Mark Murphey*
Tala Ashe*
Brooke Parks*
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • Troilus and Cressida


    Get a sneak peek of our 2012 production of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, directed by Rob Melrose.

  • Rob Melrose

    Know Before You Go

    Director of our 2012 production of Troilus and Cressida, Rob Melrose, talks about the play.

  • Rob Melrose

    The Story

    Director Rob Melrose talks about the story of Troilus and Cressida.

  • Rob Melrose

    Early Thoughts

    Director Rob Melrose shares early thoughts on the production.

  • Oregon Live

    “Let’s be honest, this comedy/problem play will be on the list of hardcore Shakespeare fans if for no other reason than its rarity: in its 77-year history, OSF has staged Troilus and Cressida only four times previously. But, as directed by Rob Melrose, this is much more than a checkmark to make on your Bard scorecard…there are plenty of engaging performances, especially by Barzin Akhavan as the flamboyant and voluble Pandaras (uncle to the female lead, Cressida), Elijah Alexander as a buffoonish, bleating Ajax, and especially Michael Elich, who plays Thersites as a paint-huffing tweaker working both sides of the conflict.”

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    “Largely ignored for more than 300 years, 'Troilus and Cressida' is emerging as a true Shakespearean masterpiece, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's version, setting the play in Operation Iraqi Freedom, firmly establishes that stature. Like 'The Deer Hunter,' this play has no dramatic arc. Like 'The Sopranos,' it has no tidy resolutions. Rather, it is a character study with some of the most sharply drawn characters in the canon conversing in some of the sharpest verse Shakespeare ever wrote.”

  • Daily Tidings logo

    Ashland Daily Tidings

    "'Troilus and Cressida,' the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's latest offering in the New Theatre, gives us Shakespeare in a dark and reflexive mode. In this fascinating play about love and war, the characters are ambiguous, the situations complex, the humor dark. There are no easy answers, no tidy resolutions. There are no straightforward heroes here. Nor are there clear-cut villains. But the action will keep you at the edge of your seat.”

  • Sacramento Bee logo

    Sacramento Bee

    “Director Rob Melrose and designer Michael Locher have concocted an atmospheric modern setting derived from the looting of the Baghdad Museum during the U.S. invasion of Iraq…Melrose has assembled a deep, rich cast led by Barzin Akhavan's Pandarus, the lord who comically facilitates the romance between the hesitant lovers Troilus (Raffi Barsoumian) and Cressida (Tala Ashe). Adding complexity to the story are Kevin Kenerly's resolute Diomedes, Bernard White as the war-weary Hector, Michael Elich as the bitter commentator Theristes and Elijah Alexander as the dense warrior Ajax.”