Palazzolo

PITY & TERROR

The Plays of Euripides

Translated by Andrew Wilson

 

Medea

Euripides' take on the classic "Revenge Drama". What does it feel like if you are a man, a hero even, when your ex-wife takes her revenge on you by obliterating your future? And was it all your fault?

To be performed in Edinburgh, June 2022. Details.

Electra

Electra, with her brother's help, helps to avenges the murder of her father by luring the murderer, her mother Clytemnestra, to her death. But is her act of revenge simply a crime?

First performed in Edinburgh November 2016.

Iphigeneia inTauris

Agamemnon's daughter Iphigeneia was not, as was thought, sacrificed to persuade the gods to let her father Agamemnon's fleet sail against Troy. She was spirited away by Artemis to a remote place on the Black Sea, (now the Crimea) where she became a priestess, tasked with sacrificing all foreigners to the goddess. Her brother Orestes arrives, with no idea that his sister is still alive.

First performed in Edinburgh November 2014

 

Ion

How seriously should we take a tragedy where the poisoning of a pigeon is the most dramatic event? A young man, brought up as an orphan in Apollo's temple at Delphi, begins to doubt the god's sincerity when confronted by a father (whom he instinctively dislikes) and a mother (for whom he feel instinctive sympathy, but tries to murder!). Can he trust a god who (apparently) raped his mother, arttempted a cover-up, and then fobbed him off with a father who played no part in his begetting?

 

 

Helen

The play is Euripides' apology for all the nasty things he made up about her in his other plays. Helen is as charming, beautiful and witty as she is in the Odyssey. The play takes Stesichorus' notion that the real Helen never went to Troy, but was spirited away by the gods to sit out the war in Egypt. This idea, in Electra, is put forward as an example of the extreme cynicism you'd expect from immortals - but here such bitterness seems out of place. Enjoy a clever, fast-moving plot with some excellent characters (Theonoë, the priggish priestess, and the defiantly non-heroic Menelaus are a joy).

Performed on Soth Bank, London 2007, Edinburgh 2013, University of Hanover 2016.

 

Phoenissae

Jocasta, Oedipus' wife and mother is an an old woman, but still living in the palace in Thebes. Can she stop the suicidal clash between her two sons, one of whom is attacking Thebes, the other defending it? By the end of the drama, only Oedipus and his daughter/sister Antigone survive. But hope does not.

 

Orestes

Once dismissed as a mere "melodrama" unworthy of Euripides, Orestes would now be considered by many (me included) as his masterpiece. Like Helen, it transcends category. The theme could not be more serious: it's a play about madness and personal respnsibility for one's actions. The characters, however, are superbly comic - hence the problems. Traditional scholars and critics could not handle a tragedy that was funny.

Performed in Edinburgh August 1993, University of Hanover 2016.

 

Bacchae

Dionysus arrives in Thebes to challenge its civilised values. But is his alternative better? Or far worse?

 

Euripides and me!

Of Euripides' 19 surviving plays, these are the ones I've worked on so far. There is no pattern - I was asked to produce a traslation of Orestes im 1992 during a sabbatical in Taormina, Sicily. There was also time to complete Helen and Phoenissae. Bacchae was requested by my wife, and the remainder were commissioned by the splendid Athens of the North Theatre Group in Edinburgh, for whom I also made a Scottish-flavoured translation of Aristophanes' Ecclesiazousae (Women in Parliament).

Download Ecclesiazousae here.

Like Aristophanes, I actually prefer Aeschylus: two of his tetralogies (and Prometheia) can be found here.