Conference: "Contemporary and Cross-Cultural Approaches to Greek Tragedy"

Re-imagining the Greeks: Contemporary and Cross-cultural Approaches to Greek Tragedy

Conference at Amherst College

The Theater and Dance Department at Amherst College will host a three-day international conference, Re-imagining the Greeks: Contemporary and Cross-cultural Approaches to Greek Tragedy, in Holden Theater March 23-25, 2017.

Each day will be devoted to a different region/culture around the world, and its cross-cultural approach to plays from ancient Greece. The first day will be about Japanese adaptations, the second about Black interpretations (African and American), and the third about American adaptations. The conference will combine scholarly discussions, workshops based on non-western performative approaches, and live performances.

“In the past few decades, we have witnessed a worldwide trend of adapting and re-imagining ancient Greek plays,” says Yagil Eliraz, organizer of the conference. “These cross-cultural approaches prove that Greek tragedy is a universal resource, and not the exclusive property and cradle of the West. The conference will offer the opportunity to focus on the performative aspects of these contemporary adaptations, and will bring together scholars and practitioners from various disciplines.”

Conference highlights

March 23, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Japanese adaptations. Discussion: Mae Smethurst from the University of Pittsburgh will lead a discussion about the works of Tadashi Suzuki, Yukio Ninagawa and Miyagi Satoshi. She will be accompanied by director Izumi Ashizawa. Workshop: Experiment with Greek texts using Butoh.

March 23, 9 p.m. Performance: the performer Yokko will present her dance-theater solo piece, “Butoh Medea,” a new adaptation of Medea.

March 24, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Black Interpretations

Discussion and staged reading: Astrid van Weyenberg from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands will lead a discussion about political change as reflected in South African and Nigerian adaptations of Antigone and the myth of House of Atreus. Weyenberg will be joined by scholar and Percussionist Neil Clarke, who will talk about social functions of African drumming. Actors will read scenes from Molora (Yael Farber), Tegonni (Femi Ososfisan), and The Darker Face of The Earth (Rita Dove). Workshop: experiment with Greek texts using live African drumming.

March 24, 9:00 p.m. Screening: Chi-Raq (2015), directed by Spike Lee. adaptation of "Lysistrata", a comedy by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.

March 25, 10.30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Book Launch: George Rodosthenous from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom will launch his new book, Contemporary Adaptations of Greek Tragedy: Auteurship and Directorial Visions.

March 25, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. American interpretations

Discussion: Helene Foley from Columbia University will lead a discussion about the representations of war in American adaptations. Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics Sarah Olsen will discuss dance in ancient Greek tragedies. Workshop: stage director and Visiting Assistant Professor Yagil Eliraz will explore The Persians live music.

March 25, 9 p.m. Screening: La Medea: a musical re-imagining of Euripides’ violent tragedy into a dance-theater performance and feature film á la Latin-disco-pop variety show. Conceived and directed by Yara Travieso.

The conference is funded by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and the Arts at Amherst Initiative, with additional support from related academic departments. The conference will be part of the Arts at Amherst Spring Festival events.

All conference events are open to the general public, free of charge. Registration is recommended, at www.amherst.edu/go/reimaginingthegreeks . Performers (students and professionals) who wish to take part in the workshops must register in advance, due to limited capacity.

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(Photo: "Empty Boardroom" by Reynermedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

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