Greek Tragedy, Agonistic Space, and Contemporary Performance

Harrop, Stephe (2018) Greek Tragedy, Agonistic Space, and Contemporary Performance. New Theatre Quarterly. (Accepted for Publication)

Greek Tragedy, Agonistic Space, and Contemporary Performance (HIRA version, Feb 2018).pdf

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This article combines theatre history and performance analysis with contemporary agonistic theory to re-conceptualize Greek tragedy’s contested spaces as key to the political potentials of the form. It focuses on Athenian tragedy’s competitive and conflictual negotiation of performance-space, understood in relation to the cultural trope of the agon. Drawing on David Wiles’ structuralist analysis of Greek drama, which envisages tragedy’s spatial confrontations as a theatrical correlative of democratic politics, performed tragedy is here re-framed as a site of embodied contest and struggle; as agonistic spatial practice. This historical model is then applied to a current case-study; Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women as co-produced by Actors Touring Company and The Lyceum, Edinburgh, in 2016-17. It is proposed that the frictious effects, encounters, and confrontations generated by this production (re-staged and re-articulated across multiple venues and contexts) exemplify some of the potentials of agonistic spatial practice in contemporary re-performance of Greek tragedy. Throughout, is contended that re-imagining tragic theatre, both ancient and modern, as (in Chantal Mouffe’s terms) ‘agonistic public space’ represents an important new approach to interpreting, and creatively re-imagining, interactions between Athenian tragedy and democratic politics.

Item Type: Article
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > Drama,Dance and Performance Studies
Depositing User: Stephe Harrop
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2018 12:30
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2018 14:12

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