The Problem of the Chorus in Contemporary Revivals of Greek Tragedy and Directorial Solutions in the Last Forty Years

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis deals with how Western theatre directors have tried to solve the perceived ‘problem’ of the chorus in tragedy revivals in the period from the late 1970s to the present day. This period is marked by an increased tendency for artistic innovation, the result of many new aesthetic movements, and a cultural turning point: the firm re-establishment of a connection between sociopolitical issues and the art of theatre.
A guiding principle in the thesis is that, in order to create an aesthetic and ideological framework for the staging of the chorus, to make it necessary dramaturgically and aesthetically, we must take into account their original fifth-century function and cultural context. Thus I examine both the ancient evidence as well as significant contemporary directorial contributions in order to support the argument for the evolving nature of the choral form (and of tragedy in general) and of the importance of cultural and socio-political relevance for the success of the chorus: this is a form that inherently carries the potential to interact profoundly with cultural structures and idiosyncrasies and can, when used successfully, be theatrically and ideologically exciting in any contemporary re-contextualisation.
I propose that currently, in the context of a global economic and social crisis, there is a very perceptible shift in the aesthetics and politics of the staging of Greek drama, that has had a great impact on the staging of the chorus.
The evolution of tragedy revivals and the many and diverse contemporary incarnations of the chorus have consistently proven theatre’s social role for now and for the future: the Greek chorus is a vital presence in the dramatization of diachronic political and humanist issues. Far from being a problem, the contemporary Greek chorus emerges as a force for aesthetic innovation and socio-political relevance.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorEdith Hall (Supervisor) & Ismene Lada-Richards (Supervisor)

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