Terry Teachout on How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today
In a book we published a few years back, British classicist Simon Goldhill explained the Greek and Roman roots of everything in contemporary Western culture, from our political systems to the quest for the perfect body. Still, we have traveled some ways from those classic roots, which perhaps accounts for why the works of Greek dramatists can seem so ancient and foreign when performed on a modern stage. Most of the action takes place offstage, the characters do more speechifying than dialogue, and a chorus shuffles on and off.
Goldhill’s latest book, How to Stage Greek Tragedy Today, tackles this problem. Writing in a Commentary magazine blog, the Horizon, drama critic Terry Teachout discussed the book last week. Teachout noted that “most contemporary productions of Greek tragedy are exercises in theatrical futility” and summed up Goldhill’s contribution:
His approach is at once deeply informed by the best academic scholarship and no less deeply rooted in a commonsense understanding of what works on stage. The result is one of the most instructive and lucidly written books about theater to have been published in recent years. No one whose interest in drama is more than merely casual should pass it by.