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Tragedy in Athens

Tragedy in Athens
Performance Space and Theatrical Meaning


  • Author: David Wiles, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Date Published: August 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521666152

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About the Authors
  • This book examines the performance of Greek tragedy in the classical Athenian theatre. Whilst post structuralist criticism of Greek tragedy has tended to focus on the literary text, the analysis of stagecraft and the theatre has been markedly conservative in its methodology. David Wiles corrects that balance, exploring the performance of tragedy as a spatial practice specific to Athenian culture, at once religious and political. Athenian conceptions of space were quite unlike those of the modern world. After reviewing controversies and archaeological data regarding the fifth-century performance space, Wiles turns to the chorus and shows how dance mapped out the space for the purposes of any given play. The book shows how the performance as a whole was organised and, through informative diagrams and accessible analyses, Wiles brings the theatre of Greek tragedy to life.

    • Examines Greek tragedy from the view point of staging and spatial relations and brings its theatre to a more general audience
    • Accessible diagrams and discussions of Greek theatre and performance
    • Suitable for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students as textbook
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'David Wiles's enquiries are securely based on past and current scholarly research, towards which the reader is directed by full and judicious footnotes. This is a study which deserves a prominent place on reading lists for all students interested in drama and theatre.' New Theatre Quarterly

    'In this volume David Wiles, who has written with equal assurance about Elizabethan performance and ancient comedy, turns his attention to Greek or, as most modern critics would now define it, Athenian tragedy. Those who enjoy the originality, and sometimes the audacity, of his ideas, will not be disappointed here. No-one with a serious interest in the application of performance theory to historical texts can afford to ignore this book which is multidisciplinary in its approach, packed with ideas and re-readings, sometimes provocative beyond the call of duty but never dull.' Michael Anderson, Theatre Research International

    'The book draws examples from all the extant tragedies, and some fragments, often with bold insight. Well over a dozen neat, tidy explanations appeared that I have filed away to share in the classroom.' Didaskalos

    '… genuinely original treatment … every page demonstrates that new and important things can still be said about the tragic playwrights of 5th-century Athens'. The Anglo-Hellenic Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 1999
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521666152
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.335kg
    • contains: 4 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The problem of space
    2. The theatre of Dionysus
    3. Focus on the centre point
    4. The mimetic action of the chorus
    5. The chorus: its transformation of space
    6. Left and right, east and west
    7. Inside/outside
    8. The vertical axis
    9. The iconography of sacred space
    10. Orchestra and theatron
    Select bibliography

  • Author

    David Wiles, Royal Holloway, University of London

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