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Article Title

Remaking the Chorus: Charles Mee Jr.'s Orestes 2.0

Abstract

In his play Orestes 2.0, Charles Mee, Jr. remakes the chorus into several distinct groups of characters who resemble a Greek chorus but also reflect a culture that has devalued the political and social value of the community. The chorus members, made up of nurses and war victims, participate in creating an incoherent political and legal process, and a confusing and fragmented theatrical event. The chorus does not fulfill its traditional role here because the role itself is revealed as inadequately proscribed: this is a chorus without an accepted voice in the workings of the political organization of its society, or even in the workings of the theatrical event, an event which itself is revealed as corrupted and lacking political legitimacy. The chorus of the idealized Athenian tragedy was a vehicle for learning and civilization, but, as even Euripides’ version of Orestes shows, that role is inherently corrupted when the civilization it is meant to propagate can no longer rely on the perception of an idealized past. Mee recognizes and shares a nostalgia for community and theatrical relevance that tends to be contained in the valorization of Greek tragedy in its Athenian context. However, his choral choices resist the illusion of progress and community engagement that many contemporary adaptations of Greek tragedy embrace.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.

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