About the 2005 Fox Lecture
This presentation was developed as a companion to the March, 2005, Monmouth College Crimson Masque production of Euripides’ Trojan Women. The author served as production dramaturge and some materials in tonight’s lecture were presented in a less formal style to the director and members of the cast.
The introductory section defines the term “dramaturgy” and offers a brief explanation of the nature and function of a “dramaturge” in modern theatre company.
Next is an illustrated discussion of the production context of antiquity, including Euripides’ life, the performance space, pertinent operative conventions (e.g. chorus, costumes, masks, scenery, and the audience). Special emphasis is placed on shifts in accepted truth about the Greek theatre in the last thirty years. Under particular scrutiny are the shape of the orchestra, the positioning of the altar, early seating configurations, scene building development, scenic conventions, and the starting time of ancient performances.
The final section deals with contemporary applications and interpretations of the script within the context of this modern production. One clear conclusion is that, although historic understandings of the physical theatre of classic Greece have altered, the meaning of Trojan Women has not. War, senseless violence, and mindless suicidal revenge plagued the ancient Aegean world and continue in the Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq today. Women and children continue to bear the brunt of the suffering and shed most of the tears in these conflicts.
A number of recent productions of the play have chosen contemporary images of sectarian genocide, holocaust ovens, or Abu Ghraib-like prisons to highlight the plight of victims of war. The Monmouth College production has chosen to keep the play in a semi-historical milieu, with the hope that the plight of the victims of violence will be a constant presence without becoming a pointed, partisan, political statement. Given the far earlier historical setting of the Trojan Women in relation to the political scene in Athens in 415 BC, the Monmouth production would appear to take an approach that Euripides might commend.
The bulk of the research material was gathered from recent available secondary sources. The presenter’s personal background includes forty years of teaching theatrical history, the direction of almost 100 plays (including six by classical authors), and travel to the sites of still existing Greek and Roman theatres in England, France, Italy, Greece, and Turkey. A selected bibliography will be available at the lecture.