Greek Tragedy, Agonistic Space, and Contemporary Performance

Harrop, Stephe (2018) Greek Tragedy, Agonistic Space, and Contemporary Performance. New Theatre Quarterly, 34 (2). pp. 99-114. ISSN 1474-0613

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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 (up to 30th April 2018)
Depositing User: Stephe Harrop
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2018 12:30
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2020 10:41

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