Love & Hate by Emily

Posted on April 11, 2013 by Haymaker


We’ve read a lot of Elektra adaptations during the course of our exploration into The Elektra Project. From the traditional versions by Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles (translated by the likes of Ezra Pound); to other classic interpretations like Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto from Richard Strauss’ opera and Eugene O’Niell’s Mourning Becomes Electra; all the way up to contemporary re-writes like Electricidad by Luis Alfaro and Ellen McLaughlin’s Iphigenia and Other Daughters trilogy.

In all of these versions I noticed a trend that wasn’t jiving with me:

These authors all seemed unable to shake the predominant portrayal of Elektra as the shrieking, unreasonable – yet impotent – daughter, and Clytemnestra as the domineering and unloving mother.

None of these versions seemed to tap the true love and hate that go hand in hand with being a mother of a daughter and being the daughter of a mother.

Forgive me if I’m oversimplifying things here – my mother has not yet (to my knowledge) murdered my father, so I don’t know firsthand. That said, I just can’t imagine losing all of my love for her – no matter what she did. I may love her a lot less. I might lose 99.9% of my love for her. But I believe, truly, there will always be a part of me that will love her forever. I wouldn’t be able to lose all of that love. And if she did something truly awful, that love would become a torture.

I can’t see the conflict of this residual love in these versions of Elektra. Some of them get incredibly close – but I want to get closer.

I want to feel the torment that Elektra is going through – feelings of having to defend her father at odds with the pain that eliminating the person who bore her into this world would bring. I want to see her need for her mother through the screaming.

I want to feel Clytemnestra’s heartache over taking away something so important to her daughter, even though she feels completely justified in it. I want to see her protect, defend, and love Elektra – not just fear, abuse, and mock her.

I want these things because I want characters to be complex. I want their relationship to be volatile and loving. I want them to look like a real mother and daughter…


Public presentations of the second draft of Haymaker’s Elektra Project are April 22 and 23rd at 8pm in UNC’s Swain Hall. Haymaker is an artist in residence of the Process Series at UNC. For more details or to RSVP for the draft performance, click here.