Sunday, April 16, 2006

Aeschylus' The Persians.

Aeschylus' play - the first in western drama (produced in 472 B.C.) - is playing currently at the Shakespeare theater on 7th St. downtown. I saw it last night and it was one of the most powerful and gripping productions I've seen in some time, and certainly one of the best productions I've ever seen at that theater. The modern parallels are inescapable and the production highlights them to the max - at the play's opening an enormous map of the Persian empire is projected on the back of the stage, with the capitol Susa gradually coming into increasing prominence until all that is projected onto the stage backdrop is the word SUSA (with a large star in the middle of the U). Please note those last three letters - need we say more concerning whom this play was really about?

Two lines in particular struck me in this production - one elder counselor's horrified guilt over "sending young men to chase old mens' dreams", and later the ghost of Darius angrily rebuking a policy of arrogant grasping "that will first render one monstrous, then bereft." The back flooring of bloody sand, the music played throughout the drama, Atossa and the chorus of Persians - all of these work to a crescendo of majestic despair.

It struck me at the end, however, that one parallel was not apt between the current situation and the play: the play has a sense of horror, loss, remorse. That is to say, the Persians, even the boy-king Xerxes who stands in the long shadow of his better father Darius - they are educable, introspective, self-critical (which, someone alert the WSJ, does NOT mean self-loathing - HELLOh-OOOh?!?!?!?!) and human.

How powerful was the production? My heart sank in dread as a bunch of giggling high school students on a school trip sat directly in front of us in the theater, but once the play started they were completely silent through the whole hour and a half.

If any of my students see this, let me urge you to try and get a student discount to go and see this production. It will be time well spent. I'd urge the powers-that-be to see it too - but it would just be lost on the likes of a Feith, a Wolfowitz, a Shrub. Alas, there is far too much dunamis and far too little sunetos in the world.

H.E.

2 Comments:

Blogger Glauk├┤pis said...

Prof. Scholten is taking his honors class on the 23rd. Should be great. Thanks for reviewing!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous flooring said...

facinating article

2:30 PM  

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