The Method Behind the Madness: Katie Mitchell, Stanislavski, and the Classics

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Abstract

Scholars frequently debate the applicability of contemporary theatre theories and acting techniques to Greek tragedy. Evidence both for and against such usage, however, is usually drawn from textual analyses which attempt to find support for these readings within the plays. Such arguments neglect the performative dimension of these theories. This article demonstrates an alternative approach by considering a case study of a Stanislavskian-inspired production of a Greek tragedy.

Taking Katie Mitchell’s 2007 Royal National Theatre production Women of Troy as a paradigmatic example, the article explores the application of a Stanislavskian approach to Euripides’ Troades. I argue that Mitchell’s production indicates that modern theatre techniques can not only transform Greek tragedy into lucid productions of contemporary relevance, but can also supplement the scholarly analysis of the plays. The Stanislavskian acting techniques are seen to work like a domesticating translation, recreating themes and emotions from the extant tragedy in a powerful way that enhances the performative dimensions of the play and counters the idea of a fixed Euripidean meaning. The article concludes that a performative methodology is essential for reception scholars and performance historians who debate the applicability of a Stanislavskian approach to Greek tragedy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-421
Number of pages22
JournalClassical Receptions Journal
Volume7
Issue number3
Early online date23 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015

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