The Ghost of Iphigenia and Oedipus on the Stairs: Ancient Theatre Festival - Syracuse 2022


  • Gherardo Ugolini Classical Philology and History of Greek and Roman Theatre, Verona



The programme of the 57th edition of the Ancient Theatre Festival at Syracuse (17 May – 12 July 2022) consisted of three Greek tragedies. The staging of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon (the first part of the Oresteia) was directed by Davide Livermore in Walter Lapini’s translation and was envisaged as taking place in the 1930s. The show was structured around a number of highly successful stage effects of great emotive impact, not least of which were the huge mirrors forming the backdrop in which the public could see themselves reflected throughout the course of the action. Besides this, the director introduces the ghost of Iphigenia into the action, a character who is absent in Aeschylus apart from the repeated re-evoking of her sacrifice before the war of the Greeks against the Trojans. The staging of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, directed by Robert Carsen in Francesco Morosi’s translation, is in a style which is completely different from Livermore’s Agamemnon, employing no special effects and instead totally focussing on the words and gestures of the actors. On the stage there towers an enormous staircase where the characters, and in particular King Oedipus, move up and down, their ascents and descents symbolically representing the rise and fall of the sovereign in a starkly ‘existential’ reading of Sophocles’ play which sees in the figure of Oedipus the paradigm of the condicio humana. Finally Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris, directed by Jacopo Gassman in Giorgio Ieranò’s translation, locates the story in an abstract and atemporal space thus emphasizing the ‘traumatized’ personalities of the two protagonists (Iphigenia and Orestes), who only through a reciprocal recognition seem to be able to discover their own specific identity.

Keywords: Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides; Syracuse; Greek tragedy; Davide Livermore; Robert Carsen; Jacopo Gassmann

Author Biography

Gherardo Ugolini, Classical Philology and History of Greek and Roman Theatre, Verona







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