This book explores the emergence of Greek tragedy on the American stage from the nineteenth century to the present. Despite the gap separating the world of classical Greece from our own, Greek tragedy has provided a fertile source for some of the most innovative American theater. Helene P. Foley shows how plays like Oedipus Rex and Medea have resonated deeply with contemporary concerns and controversies--over war, slavery, race, the status of women, religion, identity, and immigration. Although Greek tragedy was often initially embraced for its melodramatic possibilities, by the twentieth century it became a vehicle not only for major developments in the history of American theater and dance, but also for exploring critical tensions in American cultural and political life. Drawing on a wide range of sources--archival, video, interviews, and reviews--Reimagining Greek Tragedy on the American Stage provides the most comprehensive treatment of the subject available.
List of Illustrations Preface Introduction CHAPTER ONE. Greek Tragedy Finds an American Audience 1. Setting the Stage 2. American Theater Makes Greek Tragedy Its Own CHAPTER TWO. Making Total Theater in America: Choreography and Music 1. Hellenic Influences on the Development of American Modern Dance 2. American Gesamtkunstwerke 3. Musical Theater 4. Visual Choreography in Robert Wilson's Alcestis CHAPTER THREE. Democratizing Greek Tragedy 1. Antigone and Politics in the Nineteenth Century: The Boston 1890 Antigone 2. Performance Groups in the 1960s--1970s: Brecht's Antigone by The Living Theatre 3. The 1980s and Beyond: Peter Sellars's Persians, Ajax, and Children of Heracles 4. Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound in the United States: From the Threat of Apocalypse to Communal Reconciliation CHAPTER FOUR. Reenvisioning the Hero: American Oedipus 1. Oedipus as Scapegoat 2. Plagues 3. Theban Cycles 4. Deconstructing Fatality 5. Abandonment CHAPTER FIVE. Reimagining Medea as American Other 1. Setting the Stage: Nineteenth-Century Medea 2. Medea as Social Critic from the Mid-1930s to the Late 1940s 3. Medea as Ethnic Other from the 1970s to the Present 4. Medea's Divided Self: Drag and Cross-Dressed Performances Epilogue Appendix A. Professional Productions and New Versions of Sophocles' and Euripides' Electras Appendix B. Professional Productions and New Versions of Antigone Appendix C. Professional Productions and New Versions of Aeschylus's Persians, Sophocles' Ajax, and Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound Appendix D. Professional Productions and New Versions of Oedipus Tyrannus Appendix E. Professional Productions and New Versions of Euripides' Medea Appendix F. Professional Productions and New Versions of Euripides' Iphigeneia in Aulis and Iphigeneia in Tauris Appendix G. Other Professional Productions and New Versions Notes References Index