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A Classic Greek Tragedy

Posted by on Thursday, June 1, 2017 in 2017 Blog post, Blog posts.

On Wednesday night, we attended a Greek Tragedy at the Teatro Greco of Siracusa. The theatre is built into a hill so that the audience can look down at the play and also see the city of Siracusa in the background. Seeing a play in Greek tragedy style was an unbelievable experience, especially to see the play outside in a real ancient theatre. We saw a play called The Phoenician Women, by Euripedes. This play occurs in the aftermath of the well-known story of Oedipus, the man who fulfilled his own destiny by killing his father and marrying his own mother without knowing it. In his stead, his two sons Eteocles and Polyneices are fighting for the throne of Thebes. They have an agreement in place where they will alternate who rules each year, however Eteocles will not relinquish his power after the first year. Eventually, in spite of their mother’s pleading, they fight for control of the city. In classic Greek Tragedy style, the brothers simultaneously stab each other, dying in each others’ arms. Their mother Jocasta and their sister Antigone were left helpless while their Uncle Creon presumably take over ruling the kingdom. Also, Creon orders that Eteocles be properly buried and the Polyneices not be, which provides the preface for another famous play Antigone.


The play was a wildly different experience from seeing a play on Broadway or anywhere in the United States. Firstly the play was all in Italian, of which I could understand a good amount. It was easy to follow along with the excellent acting even without knowing the words. The play was outside on the hillside, which was a very cool environment compared to the usual theater. Microphones were used, but it seemed that the structure of the amphitheater inherently provided strong acoustics, as the characters were loud and very clear. There was also a different vibe to the play, a bit less formal and more focus on the play. Overall it was a more relaxed and enjoyable experience in comparison to the formal Broadway experience. Instead of all the advertisements, playbills and security, this felt more like a casual sports game that people went to just for entertainment. The layout and environment were not the only differences between this play and modern drama, the content of the play was also a different style. Most people in the audience seemed to know the plot of the story, but it was more about the emotion that the characters were expressing and some of the difficult decisions that characters faced regarding family, power and greed and how these can still relate to our lives even though the play is from Before Christ. The element of the chorus is vastly different than most plays in modern theater. In all, I loved the play experience and was able to be invested even without knowing the exact dialogue.

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