Performances of Ancient Greek Tragedy and Hellenikotita: The Making of a Greek Aesthetic Style of Performance 1919-1967.

Roilou-Panagodimitrakopoulou, Ioanna (2003) Performances of Ancient Greek Tragedy and Hellenikotita: The Making of a Greek Aesthetic Style of Performance 1919-1967. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis studies the phenomenon of the production of tragedy in Greece during the period 1919-1967 in relation to the constitution of Greek culture during this period and the ideologem of hellenikotita. It argues that theatre in Greece through the productions of tragedy proposed an aesthetic framework of performances of tragedy that could be recognised as 'purely Greek' within which the styles of productions moved. The whole issue is discussed using Bourdieu's model of the development of the 'field of cultural production'. Particularising this model in the field of theatre, the thesis argues that, due to the lack of Greek dramatic plays rich in symbolic capital, the productions of tragedy became the area where the 'sub-field of theatrical restricted production' was developed in Greece. This development, however, presupposed that the field of performance had to meet the two crucial challenges that Greek culture faced during this period. The first one consisted of the cultural appropriation of tragedy within the frame of the aesthetic ideology of the capitalist class which claimed the continuity of the Greek nation through the ages placing emphasis on the use of demotiki and the Byzantine and more recent phases of what is considered 'Greek' culture. The second consisted of the unavoidable reference to the European theatrical tradition in such a way that it would lead to styles of performances that could be characterized as 'purely Greek' and face Europe as a rival. Both these issues touched heavily on the issue of hellenikotita, which during this period consisted of a principal qualitative criterion to assess the symbolic capital of cultural products. The main argument of the thesis is discussed in relation to the work of five directors, the Sikelianoi, that is, Aggelos Sikelianos and his wife Eva Palmer-Sikelianou, Fotos Politis, Dimitris Rondiris and Karolos Koun. These directors are the main representatives of what is considered in this thesis to be the first and the second phase in the history of the 'sub-field of restricted theatrical production' in Greece. It is argued that these directors proposed aesthetic styles of performances renegotiating, on the one hand, the European theatrical tradition in Greek cultural terms and creating, on the other, a 'Greek' aesthetic style/s of performance by drawing from the entirety of what was considered to be 'Greek' culture. The body of the productions of tragedy during that period in combination with the articles and other material, for example speeches, provided by the directors themselves constitute a discourse on hellenikotita and Greek performance. Within that framework it is argued that Greek theatre through the productions of tragedy participated equally and dynamically as other cultural field in the constitution of Greek culture during that period.

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Thesis (PhD)
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02 May 2019 16:35
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:35