War Games

Article excerpt

Byline: Jack Helbig Daily Herald Correspondent

Ask someone to name literary classics least likely to be performed by an ensemble of girls between the ages of 9 and 14, and Homer's Trojan War epic "The Iliad" would surely be high on that list. Yet here is 10-year-old Des Plaines resident Katie Jordan playing Trojan warrior Scamandrius, the son of Troy's greatest hero, Hector, in Craig Wright's all-girl version of the epic now at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre.

"All of the girls play men," Katie Jordan says. "All of the girls (in the story) are played by Barbie dolls."

The unusual casting comes from the playwright's desire to give teen and preteen girls the chance to play characters they would never get to normally.

"The Iliad" is packed with famous male heroes and gods from Greek literature

including Achilles, Apollo, Ares, Ulysses, Paris and Agamemnon. The tale has only a handful of female characters.

"The play is all about Greek mythology," Katie says. "It is about Hector and Achilles and all of the Greek gods. There is this whole war that has been going on for nine years because Paris took Helen from King Menelaus."

Katie, who has been acting since she appeared in a production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in kindergarten, is thrilled by the challenge of getting into the heads of Homer's heroes.

"You just have to think," Katie says. "Pretend like you have boy cousins and they are fighting."

Then again, according to her father, Dave Jordan, his daughter has never shied away from a challenge.

"She absolutely loves being onstage," her father says. …