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Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Actor

Authors: Dunbar, Zachary, Harrop, Stephe

  • Takes a uniquely critical stance towards traditional authority figures (Aristotle and Stanislavsky) in relation to the teaching and practice of Greek tragedy
  • Addresses contemporary theatre/acting students and theatre-makers, focuses on their priorities and needs, and asks how past practices can inspire innovative new approaches
  • Combines theatre history and contemporary theory with practical prompts for studio and rehearsal-room exercises
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Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-95471-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-95470-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This book offers a provocative and groundbreaking re-appraisal of the demands of acting ancient tragedy, informed by cutting-edge scholarship in the fields of actor training, theatre history, and classical reception. Its interdisciplinary reach means that it is uniquely positioned to identify, interrogate, and de-mystify the clichés which cluster around Greek tragedy, giving acting students, teachers, and theatre-makers the chance to access a vital range of current debates, and modelling ways in which an enhanced understanding of this material can serve as the stimulus for new experiments in the studio or rehearsal room. Two theoretical chapters contend that Aristotelian readings of tragedy, especially when combined with elements of Stanislavski’s (early) actor-training practice, can actually prevent actors from interacting productively with ancient plays and practices. The four chapters which follow (Acting Sound, Acting Myth, Acting Space, and Acting Chorus) examine specific challenges in detail, combining historical summaries with a survey of key modern practitioners, and a sequence of practical exercises.

About the authors

Zachary Dunbar is Senior Lecturer in Theatre and Performing Arts Graduate Research Convenor at Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, Australia. He is a concert pianist, freelance director, writer, and composer with several UK and Australian productions. He publishes on music theatre, theatre history, and Stanislavski studies.
Stephe Harrop is Senior Lecturer in Drama (Shakespeare and the Classics) at Liverpool Hope University, UK. Her research focuses on responses to ancient Greek tragedy and epic, the traditional arts in modern theatre-making, and contemporary storytelling practices. She is an associate of the APGRD (University of Oxford), and also works as a performance storyteller.

Reviews

“This book is an invaluable tool for theatre-makers, whether beginner or expert, working to stage Ancient Greek Drama for the contemporary stage. It provides, not only, a valuable contextualisation of these foundational scripts, one which vitally challenges received notions of what it is to act in them, but it also offers varied and accessible exercises that encourage the performer/director to find ways of playfully embodying each script by embracing (rather than eliding) Ancient Greek Drama’s distinctive features. It is an engaging and informative offer that demands we (the artists) seek out a specific living and breathing dynamic for the texts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The rich range of examples from translations and live performances serve to remind us that in bringing the texts to life we are also addressing our own times and our own contexts, and that the act of staging is an act of translation itself.” (Thomas Wilson, Module/Year Coordinator BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, UK)

Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Actor offers a rich account of current trends and practices in the staging of Greek drama. Further to this, however, it provocatively charts how contemporary practice can stultify tragedy in modern performance, whether through reading tragedy via Aristotle and by focusing on a Stanislavskian-inspired psychological reading of ancient character, or by removing the playfulness inherent in tragedy and the acknowledged co-presence of actor and audience in favour of a more formalised performance style with a firmly rendered fourth wall. Instead, Zachary Dunbar and Stephe Harrop demonstrate how storytelling, translation theory, music, and the multimodal focus of modern actor training all offer alternative tools for insightful and imaginative performances ancient drama. Filled with practical exercises, insightful observations, and informative overviews, the volume is vital reading for all engaged in the staging of Greek drama today.” (Emma K Cole, Lecturer in Liberal Arts & Classics, University of Bristol, UK)


“A book like this has been long overdue for some time; Zachary Dunbar and Stephe Harrop are just the right people to have written it. In a sequence of lucid, thoughtful, nuanced discussions, the authors outline the main principles and practices of ancient Greek tragic stagecraft and offer a rich storehouse of actor-training exercises specifically geared towards this genre. More than that, however, Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Actor sets out deliberately to provoke. And provoke it certainly does, asking, among other hard questions: Have we overplayed psychological realism? How does Stanislavski fit in? Do we even need Aristotle's Poetics? If not character, then what? How does tragedy engage our sense of music, rhythm, sound, breath? I congratulate Dunbar and Harrop for asking (and answering) these questions so cogently in this important book, which is to be recommended, unreservedly, to anyone interested in how to deal with Greek tragedy in the twenty-first century.” (Simon Perris, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and author of The Gentle, Jealous God: Reading Euripides' Bacchae in English)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-95471-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-95470-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Greek Tragedy and the Contemporary Actor
Authors
Copyright
2018
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-95471-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-95471-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-95470-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
IX, 237
Number of Illustrations
1 b/w illustrations
Topics