• Unfixing Epic: Homeric Orality and Contemporary Performance

    Stephe Harrop (see profile)
    Ancient Greece & Rome, Classical Tradition, Poetics and Poetry
    Classsical literature, Criticism, interpretation, etc., Theater, Motion pictures, Homer, Epic poetry
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    Classical reception, Theater and film, Performance
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    This chapter examines the impact of a putative oral Homer upon the work of recent performance-makers. The influence of oral-poetic theories is (as yet) an under-explored area of study, neglected by scholars whose literary expertise leads them to focus on dramatic texts and production histories, with each revisionary text or production regarded as a single, stable, and repeatable entity. The field of classical reception studies at present lacks the conceptual and theoretical means to engage effectively with works which deliberately exploit elements of ‘in-performance’ composition, and which positively value the qualities of fluidity and flexibility evoked by oral-poetic interpretations of ancient epic. However, the present work contends that a notional oral Homer informs a diverse array of contemporary theatre texts and performance practices, and that a full appreciation of the different ways in which oral-poetic theory can influence the creation of these depends upon an ability to identify and interpret the interplay between ‘fixed’ and ‘unfixed’ elements both within particular performances, and within different iterations of the same production or event. Kate Tempest’s performance-poem Brand New Ancients is analysed as a striking recent example of creative interplay between such ‘fixed’ and ‘unfixed’ elements.
    Published as:
    Book chapter    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago
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