Reaching Athens: Community, Democracy and Other Mythologies in Adaptations of Greek Tragedy.
New Comparative Criticism
Peter Lang, 333 pp.
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Why do revivals and adaptations of Greek tragedy still abound in twenty-first-century European national theatres, fringe stages and international festivals? Taking as its starting point Jean-Luc Nancy’s and Roland Barthes’ concepts of myth and Salvatore Settis’ notion of the ‘classical’, this book investigates discourses around community, democracy, origin and Western identity in stage adaptations of Greek tragedy on contemporary European stages. It addresses the ways in which the theatre produces and perpetuates the myth of ‘classical’ Greece as the origin of Europe and how this narrative raises issues concerning the possibility of a transnational European community. Each chapter explores a pivotal problem in modern appropriations of Greek tragedy, including the performance of the chorus, the concept of ‘obscene’ and the audience as the demos of democracy. Among others, contemporary versions of Women of Troy, Hippolytus and Persians performed in Britain, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland and Greece are analysed through a series of comparative case studies. By engaging with the work of prominent contemporary theatre-makers such as Mark Ravenhill, Michel Vinaver, Katie Mitchell, Sarah Kane, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Romeo Castellucci, Calixto Bieito and Rimini Protokoll, this volume offers a critique of contemporary democratic Europe and the way it represents itself onstage.
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