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xi Preface A lover of Greek tragedy since I played Antigone in high school, a passionate theater buff, and a scholar of Greek drama, I began to think about this project from the time I moved to new york to teach in 1979. Starting in the late 1960s, but mushrooming from the 1980s to the present, Greek tragedy, both performances of the originals in translation and adaptations and new versions, began to make increasingly regular appearances on the new york stage. The same phenomenon on a smaller scale was taking place in other major cities, including Boston, Chicago , Los Angeles, Minneapolis, new Haven, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Berkeley, Dallas, and Kansas City. My Greek drama in translation courses increasingly included more attention to modern productions, while our students at Barnard and Columbia were performing the plays in Greek almost annually. When the Berkeley Classics Department generously offered me the chance to give the Sather Classical Lectures, this project seemed made for me. Scholarly study of both the ancient and modern performance and the reception of Greek tragedy has developed extensively as well, especially in Europe. In the United Kingdom, the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama at oxford, which includes links to other important websites and databases, has played a critical role in collecting data ( Edith Hall, oliver Taplin, Fiona MacIntosh, and their colleagues at oxford and Lorna Hardwick at the open University have served as catalysts and editors for a number of volumes mainly focusing on British, European, and African productions. Erin Mee and I have expanded the range of the series with our own Antigone on the Contemporary World Stage (2011). Efforts by many others in Europe, too numerous to mention xii Preface here, have been equally important. on the American side, Karelisa Hartigan’s pioneering attempt to create a comprehensive picture of important U.S. productions from 1882 to 1993, Greek Tragedy on the American Stage (1995), was preceded by the more specialized book-length study by Marianthe Colakis, The Classics in the American Theater of the 1960s and Early 1970s (1993), and followed by the 2003 study of African American versions of Greek tragedy by Kevin Wetmore Jr., Black Dionysus: Greek Tragedy and African American Theater, and, since my lectures, by E. Teresa Choate’s 2009 work, Electra USA. My own essay-length attempt to study Aeschylus’s Agamemnon on the U.S. stage (2005) provoked many questions, to which I respond in this book. yet these efforts, supplemented by a growing number of articles and another book in progress that has emerged from a project at northwestern, have barely scratched the surface on the American side. Hartigan’s study was based largely on newspaper reviews in a limited number of major cities and thus emphasized, above all, the reaction of critics to the productions that she included. It also focused primarily on productions and close adaptations of the original plays, rather than including the full range of new versions. My own study emphasizes as much as possible productions where I have been able to get a more substantial picture of both script and the production itself. The views of critics are rarely catalogued in detail, although I draw wherever I can on their reports to recapture the productions themselves. I do not offer my own critical reactions to the many plays I have seen myself. That would be another project. This book attempts instead to recover what we can of a frustratingly ephemeral set of efforts and to locate them in a larger artistic and cultural continuum from the nineteenth century to the present. To this end, I have chosen to address the full range of performances of Greek tragedy from translations of the original plays to adaptations and new versions. This choice seems to me to be true to the tradition that I am studying, which began in Athens as a competition to reenvision Greek myths on stage for a changing audience over time. In many later periods, including ancient Rome, new versions have been the major form of reception of these plays onstage. In my view, inevitably so. Varied attempts at “authenticity,” a goal that is in any case impossible given our slim and still-evolving knowledge of ancient Greek productions and the mediation of translation, to say nothing of our unreliable knowledge of the ancient context and many aspects of the texts themselves, have generally proved unsuccessful on the professional stage...


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