CLA 133 — Euripides, Our Contemporary: A Stanford Repertory Theater Course
Over five sessions, we will read and discuss some of Euripides’s most famous tragedies (Medea, The Trojan Women, Electra), as well as several of his lesser-known works (Andromache, Hecuba, Iphigenia in Aulis, Iphigenia in Tauris, and Helen). In each of these, a tragic heroine “takes on” a world not of her own making. Drawing on a combination of resilience, will power, deception, courage, and endurance, these powerful female characters face the direst of circumstances. However, surrender is not in their vocabulary, or if it is, it comes with such depth of understanding as to constitute its own form of resistance.
Euripides’s tragic heroines are full of surprises, shifting the ground out from under our expectations in the audience. Alive to shifting sympathies and dynamics of power, his plays provoke us by unsettling our expectations and disturbing our comfort level. Part of his genius lies in his daring theatricality, joining tragedy and humor, suffering and escape, irony and heartfelt emotion. We recognize a modern sensibility here, one that justifies considering Euripides very much as our contemporary. Join the conversation with an ancient playwright who is—for better or worse—one of us.
The course will be built around Stanford Repertory Theater’s 20th anniversary season. In addition to five class meetings, students will attend special preview performances of Hecuba and Helen. Students are also encouraged to attend the Festival’s free film series on Monday nights as well as the Stanford Repertory Theater symposium, “The Trojan War, Then and Now.” The course includes a reserved seat at the preview performances (July 25, no substitutions) and a ticket to the symposium (August 4).
Rush Rehm, Professor of Theater & Performance Studies and of Classics, Stanford; Founder and Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory TheaterRush Rehm received a PhD in drama and humanities from Stanford, and has written several books on Greek tragedy, including Understanding Greek Tragic Theatre, The Play of Space, and Radical Theatre: Greek Tragedy and the Modern World. For Stanford Repertory Theater’s 20th anniversary Summer Festival, he is directing his translation and adaptation of Euripides’s Hecuba and Helen.
Textbooks for this course:
(Required) Rehm, Understanding Greek Tragic Theatre (ISBN 978-1138812628)
(Required) Euripides/Arrowsmith/Roberts, Hecuba, translated by William Arrowsmith, Andromache, Translated by Deborah Roberts, in University of Chicago series Euripides II (ISBN 978-0226308784)
(Required) Euripides/Vellacott, Trojan Women, Helen, Ion in the Penguin Classics: Euripides, The Bacchae and Other Plays, translated by Philip Vellacott (ISBN 978-0140440447)
(Required) Euripides/Merwin/Dimock, Iphigenia in Aulis, Translated by WS Merwin and George E. Dimock, Jr. in Oxford (ISBN 978-0195077094)