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On Killing Children: Greek Tragedies on British Stages in 2015

Laera, Margherita (2015) On Killing Children: Greek Tragedies on British Stages in 2015. Critical Stages, . ISSN 2409-7411. E-ISSN 2409-7411. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:56855)

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Contemporary theatres in Europe are currently awash with theatrical versions, adaptations and mise en scènes of ‘classical’ or ‘canonical’ works from antiquity and early modernity that are approached through the strategy of ‘actualisation’, that is, they are made to feel ‘actual’ or ‘current’ to the target audience through an act of updating of their cultural and temporal references. It is sufficient to examine a range of Greek tragedy adaptations staged in the UK in 2015 to detect this ongoing trend. Actualisation’s polar opposite, ‘reconstruction’, whereby a source is approached through a desire to see it staged ‘as it would have been staged when it was written’, has fallen out of fashion, and so have the myriad shades of grey in between actualisation and reconstruction. This paper briefly reflects on the significance of this contemporary 'obsession' with (hyper)actualisation. It asks why an active interest in stories from the past is matched by an equally forceful rejection of the cultural associations of that past. Using case studies such as Robert Icke's Oresteia (London, Almeida, 2015), I investigate the ideologically-determined strategies that attract us to the Greek 'classics', whilst at the same time removing their foreignness and alterity from our stages.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Adaptations, Greek tragedy, actualisation
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1600 Drama
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Margherita Laera
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2016 15:45 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 11:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Laera, Margherita:
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