October 25, 2017, by Helen Lovatt

November is Greek Myth Month

Lynn Fotheringham catalogues some upcoming Classics-related drama.

There’s a remarkable concentration of Greek-mythology related drama coming up in November, both in Nottingham and elsewhere. I’ll start with the cinema before moving on to various theatrical productions. Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, is a modern take on the story of Agamemnon’s family suffering for his past crimes, with Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman. It’s on at the Broadway from 3rd-9th November; get in touch if you fancy going to see it as a group (cadre at nottingham dot ac dot uk).

On 13th November the Actors of Dionysus bring their current production of Sophocles’ Antigone to the Lakeside. This sold out really quickly; here’s hoping that fact encourages Lakeside to book AoD for two nights next time round! It’s nevertheless worth contacting the box office (0115 846 7777) to check if they still have any restricted view seats (not sold over the internet), or if there have been any returns. You can also just show up on the night and wait for returns; such standby tickets cost only £5.

If you miss Antigone, the University’s award-winning student-run New Theatre is putting on Euripides’ Medea later in the very same week (15th-18th November), directed by current MA student Emma Fearon. Emma has some experience of bringing Greek tragedy to the modern stage: she was in the cast of the Lakeside/New Theatre production of Sophocles’ Oedipus in 2016. Again, get in touch if you fancy seeing Medea in company with other Greek tragedy enthusiasts.

Further afield, the Proper Job Theatre Company’s new show, a contemporary setting of the Medusa myth, is currently touring. The nearest performance to Nottingham is at the mac in Birmingham on 10th November. This is the first play written by Sheffield-born poet Helen Mort, who has blogged about learning ‘how to introduce a choral structure, how to write for different voices’, and about the resonance of the myth in relation to contemporary rape-trials.

Medusa also features in a show by post-feminist performer, The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein, at The Pit in London (Barbican), which runs 7th-11th November. The show, entitled Notorious, references contemporary rapper Nicki Minaj alongside Medusa, suggesting a focus on the status of celebrity/legendary women; it’s described on the website as an “irreverent phenomenon of music, dance and ‘witch-bitch’ ritual, … raw, timely and uncomfortably hilarious interdisciplinary performance”.

On 17th-18th November, actor/dancer François Testory’s solo show Medea, Written in Rage, completes its tour at Birmingham Rep. Originally written – and performed – in French by Jean-Réné Lemoine, this appears to be the Haitian playwright’s second adaptation of a Greek myth, following 2012’s Iphigénie (which I discovered a few years ago through the modern Greek production of Dimitra Kreps). With Medea being performed by a man, expect a genderless take appropriate to the performances’ affiliation to Birmingham’s SHOUT Festival of Queer Arts and Culture.

At the time of writing, tickets were still available on-line for all these performances except the first night of Notorious. Unfortunately this is not true for the last entry in my catalogue. London’s Young Vic will shortly become the latest theatre to host the Actors Touring Company/Royal Lyceum Edinburgh production of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, which has already played in Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle, Manchester and Dublin. In every city, a group of local singers are trained as the Chorus, who are a dominant feature of this early play. Alas, all performances (13th-25th November) are sold out, so if you haven’t already got a ticket, you’ll have to contact the theatre to find out their returns policy.

Obviously it would take a time-machine to fit all of these productions into any individual’s schedule, but it’s great to see the Greek mythological heroines still being played in such a variety of ways on stages across the country. I post regularly on the CADRE Facebook page when I find out about Classics-related productions – and I’m always glad to hear from other people about things that I’ve missed!


Image credits

Top: Klara Ziegler as Medea, licensed via Wikimedia Commons. Middle: Caravaggio, Medusa (1595-6), Uffizi Gallery, licensed via Wikimedia Commons.

Posted in AeschylusCADREClassical receptionEuripidesfilmGreek dramaGreek mythSophocles