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After Cyclops: Appropriating the chorus of Euripides when scriptwriting for applied drama

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The contention of this article is that effective appropriation of the device of chorus of ancient Athenian drama can be a powerful dramatic device for applied drama purposes. I will primarily deal with effective appropriation of the device of chorus for participants in scripted applied drama. I have taken, as a starting point, aspects of the device of chorus as employed by Euripides but then developed the device for the medium of applied drama and to appeal to and be utilized by the client groups I write for. I would suggest that the desire of a writer to adapt or appropriate what has gone before is connected to a desire to engage with transformational learning. I would contend that in order to make effective applied drama we need to focus on the special interplay between chorus, audience and action by placing the chorus firmly back as a central device of the play. To illuminate my thinking, I will concentrate on the writing and development of one of my plays for young people: The Tipping Point. It explores the Eastern European economic-migrant experience in Britain. In the writing of the play I appropriated aspects of the use of chorus from the satyr play Cyclops by Euripides. The Tipping Point as an appropriation of Cyclops is not about linear functioning belatedness (Sanders 2006: 159) but an appropriation more magpie in its intent. I would contend that the appreciation of the varieties and potential of the original form also made the appropriation richer and more effective in the final creative product. As Lee (2001: 28) observes, Greek tragedy may have died when the significance of the chorus was lost and the special emotional interplay between audience, chorus and action, compromised.
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Keywords: Euripides; applied drama; appropriation; scriptwriting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Hull, United Kingdom.

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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  • Adaptation, or the conversion of oral, historical or fictional narratives into stage drama has been common practice for centuries. In our own time the processes of cross-generic transformation continue to be extremely important in theatre as well as in the film and other media industries. Adaptation and the related areas of translation and intertextuality continue to have a central place in our culture with a profound resonance across our civilisation.
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