Κωνσταντίνος Μπλατάνης, Επίκουρος καθηγητής, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Ασπασία Βελισσαρίου, Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
Μαρία Κουτσουδάκη, Καθηγήτρια, Τμήμα Αγγλικής Γλώσσας και Φιλολογίας, ΕΚΠΑ
This thesis will discuss the role of the chorus in two postmodern rewritings of Euripides’s Bacchae and Sophocles’s Antigone, namely Richard Schechner and The Performance Group’s Dionysus in 69 (1968) and Mac Wellman’s Antigone (2001), respectively. The choruses of these two different plays will be examined regarding the different ways in which they activate contemporary spectators and enable them to develop their own sociopolitical and ontological consciousness. By exploring the chorus’s crucial dramatic and theatrical role, I will draw on Jacques Rancière’s concepts of intellectual equality and intellectual emancipation in art and education, so as to examine the way the creative process of writing and presenting a play affects the way the latter is perceived by the different members of the audience as they take part in the process of viewing not only as passive spectators, but also as active commentators and creators of their own, unique interpretatios and stories.
Theoretical work on “the society of the spectacle” by Guy Debord (1967) has defined the modern human condition as one having lost its former unity of life, in which individuals have become passive and incapable to think because of the alienation the spectacle causes to lived experience. What is more, in our era when technology has invaded almost all areas of people's lives, real and substantial contact with art as well as with social relationships in general seems to have been lost. Yet, according to Rancière, one should not underestimate the ability and power of the human being to perceive and critically process any artistic or other experience. A perception that holds that a spectator can only be a passive, easily-influenced receiver with no critical thinking and thus one who must be taught the truth by the knowledgeable artist, automatically places the artist and the artifact in a higher, unequal position in relation to the spectator, student, receiver, and this hierarchy negatively affects the possibility of the spectator to develop her views and emancipate herself. Thus, Rancière argues, creating art that challenges established perceptions of spectatorship is crucial for the interests of producing art that freely communicates concerns and ideas on human experience and that facilitates intellectual equality and democratic dialogue, as a first step towards social and political change and a better future.
By pursuing a comparative analysis of both the ancient texts and their postmodern rewritings, or adaptations, I intend to examine the historical and cultural conditions in which both the ancient and the modern plays were produced, in order to reach conclusions concerning the issue of spectatorship in relation to an art that works the best towards intellectual and social education and liberation. I explore the role and the function of the choruses of both the ancient and the modern plays and the different spectator participation or activation they trigger. Through my research, I aspire to trace the qualities of the modern theatrical play that can manage to contribute to the emancipation of the spectator of the 21st century.
spectatorship, intellectual emancipation, theater, performance, rewriting, tragedy