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The Senecan AestheticA Performance History$
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Helen Slaney

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198736769

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198736769.001.0001

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Seneca in ’68

Seneca in ’68

(p.243) 8 Seneca in ’68
The Senecan Aesthetic

Helen Slaney

Oxford University Press

In the generation after Artaud, many directors attempted to put the maxims of Cruelty into practice. These included Jean-Louis Barrault, who applied Artaud’s ideas to a 1942 production of Racine’s Phèdre. Whereas Artaud had eschewed formal speech, Barrault returned to Racine’s poetry with a new sense of its musicality. His protégé Jorge Lavelli did the same with a translation of Seneca’s Medea some twenty years later. At the same time, Peter Brook was applying the principles of Cruelty to Seneca’s Oedipus. But while Seneca was experiencing something of a revival in the theatre industry, academic consensus (still under the sway of Schlegel) was of the opinion that Seneca’s plays could not be staged. The most prominent exponent of this position was Otto Zwierlein in Die Rezitationsdramen Senecas, whose detailed analysis of Seneca’s ‘flaws’ as a dramatist was predicated entirely on outdated assumptions of stage naturalism.

Keywords:   Jean-Louise Barrault, Phèdre, Médée, Jorge Lavelli, Jean Vauthier, Peter Brook, Ted Hughes, Oedipus, Otto Zwierlein, Rezitationsdrame

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