The Chorus


A major dilemma for many dramatists looking to stage an ancient play is what to do about the chorus. Whether you decide to include a chorus or not and the extent to which your chorus follows ancient dramatic convention are two big questions that will shape how your practical piece turns out.


In 2002, some CLC students put together practical pieces with a particular focus on the Chorus and its interaction with the individual actors, I have sent you a link via email with which to access these performances. If you have lost the link, please email me.


Before you decide whether or not you want to include a chorus in your practical piece, I think the first question you need to ask yourself is what role you think the chorus plays in Athenian drama? E.g., are they representatives of average Athenian citizens? Do their views reflect those of the playwright’s intended audience?


From there, you will be better positioned to ‘translate’ the chorus (or not) into your practical piece. E.g., do you want to draw an analogy between how you view the role of the chorus and a modern institution? Or as an archetypal feature of Athenian drama, do you want to keep the strangeness of the ancient chorus intact?


Of particular importance to those of you working with comedy is the role of the parabasis: an extended choral passage that directly addresses the audience in, what is often interpreted as, the poet’s voice.




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