Euripides' Trojan women : a 20th century war play in performance
In this dissertation, I approach the interpretation of a classical text in performance by examining the practical elements (directorial and design choices: set, costumes, lighting, music, etc.) and promotional materials (programmes, press releases, photographs, etc.) for a selection of significant test cases in order to determine how these production decisions engage with external factors of political, intellectual, and cultural import. Trojan Women is a particularly useful case study to explore within the parameters of this method because the dynamism and immediacy of the play is most powerfully articulated when production choices allow for it to be wielded as a weapon of protest or reaction against contemporary policy, especially the waging of war. Using a chronological approach, this analysis of Trojan Women as a text for performance provides a broad and in-depth discussion of the reception of the play in the twentieth century, the period in which the ancient text was most frequently performed. Through the investigation of several influential productions on the international stage, and through an examination of the roles of key players (particularly Gilbert Murray and Jean-Paul Sartre), Trojan Women emerges as a play that offers theatre artists a unique and effective forum for debating issues of human responsibility in times of war a central theme in the play and a considerable preoccupation during a century of armed conflict. Chapter One discusses how the play was used to criticize imperial activity and promote ideological causes in the first half of the century. Chapters Two and Three draw attention to a major cluster of performances reflecting the spirit of international war protest in the 1960s and 1970s. Chapter Four addresses productions of the play affected by delayed responses to the Holocaust. Chapter Five features performances in the 1990s that respond to crises of civil conflict and genocide.