(4) "La forcenoient deux tygres sans mercy / Le grand Atride
, et le petit aussy / Joyeux de sang: le carnacier Tydide, / Et le superbe heritier d'Aeacide, / Le grand Ajax seigneur du grand bouclier." (Ronsard, I, 47-51).
For Les Atrides, a cycle of four plays that adds Euripides' Iphigenia at Aulis to Aeschylus's Oresteia, this distancing is achieved through the filter of an imaginative context inspired mainly by Kathakali dance, makeup, and costumes, and the colors and fabrics of India.(6) The Atreus cycle is part of a long series of "Orientalist" projects for which the Theatre du Soleil has either adapted Asian or Indian theatre conventions to stage Western texts or created new works that depict the colonization of the Third World more directly.
European culture gained in strength and identity by setting itself off against the Orient as a sort of surrogate and even underground self."(8) I hope to show that while Les Atrides may not escape producing hegemonous effects with its own Orientalist project, it nevertheless manages to historically contextualize the cultural production of Orientalism as a semiotic process.
(:200-201) Interestingly, Levinas's use of the Atrides
as a backdrop for freedom will be parallelled by Sartre's in Les Mouches.
Consisting of Euripides' Iphigenia in Aulis and Aeschylus' Oresteia trilogy, Les Atrides told the story of the house of Atreus from the sacrifice of Iphigenia to the acquittal of Orestes.
Mnouchkine said that creating a true chorus was one of her primary goals in directing Les Atrides, and the choral ensembles were among the production's most striking elements, though for clarity only the Chorus Leaders recited the choral odes.
Among his late plays are Vor Sonnenuntergang ( Before Sunset, 1932) and a monumental treatment of the story of the house of Atreus in his Atriden - Tetralogie (Atrides
Tetralogy), which includes Iphigenie in Delphi (1941), Iphigenie in Aulis (1943), Agamemnons Tod ( Agamemnon's Death, 1947), and Elektra (1948).
The theater ensemble of the Tegel prison gives a performance based on works by Aischylos, Heiner Muller, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Paul Sartre, but also tailor-written texts and folk songs that chronicle the bloody history of the Atrides
The full-scale chorus is utilized in productions such as Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Atrides
and Lee Breuer's The Gospel ar Colonus, in which a fully realized version of a chorus replaces the ancient Greek one, revising it but maintaining "a collective sense of identity" as a part of "a rigourously non-realistic theatrical aesthetic" (63).
The same question could be asked about Simon Abkarian, the frighteningly passive-violent Orestes in Mnouchkine's Les Atrides
(her production of Aeschylus' Orestia, which toured to Montreal and Brooklyn last year).
A suggestion by business manager Lori Ott prompted the theatre to track down the fabric Ariane Mnouchkine hung in the Brooklyn Armory to improve acoustics for her Les Atrides
. The search took them from the Brooklyn Academy of Music to Canada--it seemed that BAM had borrowed the fabric from the Montreal Festival de Theatre des Amerigues, where the work had had its North American premiere.
And while Scorcese's Age of Innocence is universally anticipated (I know I can't wait), Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Atrides
will require too much explaining to friends outside the business; and Peter Sellars wants to direct more movies, but no more plays; and the best American movie directors (Altman excepted) wouldn't get near a play, to see it much less film it; and Jonathan Demme could do worse than to talk to Mac Wellman; and pardon me, but a majority of those plays currently being converted to celluloid are going to be listless, unnecessary films and join Noises Off and Equus in the Broadway-to-Hollywood waxworks.