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In this article Steve Wilmer discusses adaptations of Greek tragedy that highlight the plight of the displaced and the dispossessed, including Janusz Glowacki's Antigone in New York, Marina Carr's Hecuba, and Elfriede Jelinek's Die Schutzbefohlenen, which is notably emblematic among appropriations of ancient Greek plays in referencing the problems facing refugees in Europe. He considers how this latter play has been directed in a variety of ways in Germany and Austria since 2013, and how in turn it has been reappropriated for new dramatic performances to further investigate the conditions of refugees. Some of these productions have caused political controversy and one of them has even been physically attacked by a right-wing group. Steve Wilmer is Professor Emeritus of Drama at Trinity College Dublin. He is the co-editor of ‘Theatre and Statelessness in Europe’ for Critical Stages (2016), Resisting Biopolitics: Philosophical, Political, and Performative Strategies (Routledge, 2016), and Deleuze and Beckett (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). He also edited a special issue of Nordic Theatre Studies in 2015 titled ‘Theatre and the Nomadic Subject’.
Reacting to the concerns expressed by Sue-Ellen Case and others that Greek tragedies were written by men and for men in a patriarchal society, and that the plays are misogynistic and should be ignored by feminists, this article considers how female directors and writers have continued to exploit characters such as Antigone, Medea, Clytemnestra and Electra to make a powerful statement about contemporary society.
So close was the relationship between women and the Irish literary and theatrical renaissance that the severely diminished feminist role in contemporary Irish cultural and theatrical life contrasts all the more revealingly with the early achievements. In this article, which is an expanded version of a paper given at the 1990 conference of the International Federation for Theatre Research at Glasgow University, Steve Wilmer etches in the historical perspective, notably the significance of women's writing to the nationalist as well as the suffragist movement, and outlines the present situation, in which the solid advances being made by women directors and administrators are only slowly being reflected in an increase in women's theatre writing and support for feminist theatre groups, let alone the assumption of real theatrical power. Steve Wilmer teaches in the Samuel Beckett Centre at Trinity College Dublin, and is the author of several plays, including Scenes from Soweto.