‘Homer’ Tackles Aeschylus
Theatrical Adaptation as Process in Anne Washburn’s Mr Burns and Robert Icke’s Oresteia
This article explores the limitations of Linda Hutcheon’s definition of adaptation as distinct “product” and “process” (2013), when applied to ancient theatre and its reception in twenty-first century performance. Two modern productions are used to problematise this binary: Anne Washburn’s Mr Burns (2014) and Robert Icke’s Oresteia (2015), both of which showcase theatre’s inherent status as ephemeral ‘process’. This article borrows Paul Davis’ notion of “culture-text” (1990) alongside terminology from Lawrence Venuti (1995) to describe the multiplicity of influence and interpretation that is so central to theatrical adaptation. Erika Fischer-Lichte’s theorisation of theatre as constituted by “co-presence” (2008) is also used to distinguish live performance from other forms of creative adaptation (e.g. film, literature), as is its inherent futurity (Hall 2013, Langer 1953). Interpretation and memory, integral processes within adaptation, are considered as subjective and fragmentary, following Saidiya Hartman’s perceptions on chosen inheritances (2006) and Donna Haraway’s conception of “situated knowledges” (1988). Margherita Laera’s non-linear temporal conception of both theatre and adaptation (2014) is explored, revealing the cyclical dialogue of temporalities particular to the theatrical adaptation process.
Keywords: Greek theatre; adaptation; translation; memory; Aeschylus; Anne Washburn; Robert Icke; Oresteia; Mr Burns; Orestes
Copyright (c) 2021 Skenè. Journal of Theatre and Drama Studies
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Open Access Policy
This journal provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.
This Journal is a CC-BY 4.0 publication (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). This Licence allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work’s authorship and initial publication in this Journal, providing a link to the Licence and explicitly underlining any change (full mention of Issue number, year, pages and DOI is required).
- The Author retains (i) the rights to reproduce, to distribute, to publicly perform, and to publicly display the Article in any medium for any purpose; (ii) the right to prepare derivative works from the Article; and (iii) the right to authorise others to make any use of the Article so long as the Author receives credit as Author and the Journal in which the Article has been published are cited as the source of first publication of the Article. For example, the Author may make and distribute copies in the course of teaching and research and may post the Article on personal or institutional Web sites and in other open-access digital repositories.
- The Author is free to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the Journal’s published version of the work, with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this Journal and explicitly underlining any change (full mention of Issue number, year, pages and DOI is required).
- The Author is permitted and encouraged to post their work online after the evaluation process has been successfully passed, as it can lead to productive exchanges as well as to a wider dissemination of the published work.