Appropriating Greek tragedy: Community, democracy and other mythologies
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Taking as its starting point Nancy’s and Barthes’ concepts of myth, this thesis investigates discourses around community, democracy, ‘origin’ and ‘Western identity’ in stage adaptations of ‘classical’ 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 around the possibility of a transnational European community. Each chapter explores a pivotal problem around community in modern appropriations of Greek tragedy: Chapter 1 analyses the notion of collectivity as produced by approaches to the Greek chorus. It investigates shifting paradigms from Schiller to twentieth-century avant-garde experiments and focuses on case studies by Müller, Vinaver, Ravenhill and others. Chapter 2 explores the representation of violence and sex, assessing the ‘obscene’ as a historically-constructed notion, comprising those segments of reality that are deemed unsuitable for public consumption in a given cultural context. Through a comparative analysis of five adaptations of the myth of Phaedra – from Euripides to Sarah Kane – it assesses changing attitudes towards ‘obscenity’, touching upon legal, aesthetic and moral issues. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the limits of representation in relation to censorship through Castellucci’s Purgatorio and Warlikowski’s (A)pollonia. Chapter 3 explores the myth of the simultaneous birth of theatre and democracy in ‘classical’ Athens and investigates the ideological assumptions implied by imagining the audience as the demos of democracy. It argues that adaptations of Greek tragedy have been used in the ‘democratic’ West to achieve self-definition in the context of globalization and European ‘transnationalisation’. This idea is explored through adaptations of Aeschylus’s The Persians, which defined ‘democratic’ Athens in opposition to the ‘barbarians’. Works by Sellars, Bieito, Gotscheff and Rimini Protokoll are discussed in this context. The thesis concludes with an analysis of Rimini Protokoll’s Prometheus in Athens.
- Theses