Steve Padley

Robinson College, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Steve Padley is Teaching Fellow in English at Robinson College, Cambridge and Associate Lecturer with the Open University. He was educated at the Open University, the University of Sheffield, and Wolfson College, Cambridge where he completed his Ph. D. thesis, “Class and Politics in Tony Harrison’s Poetry for Page, Stage, and Screen” in 1999.

Articles de l'auteur

Cycnos | Volume 18 n°1

“Hijacking Culture”: Tony Harrison and the Greeks

This article addresses Tony Harrison’s use of verse drama to explore the issues of cultural and social exclusion and reclamation that are central to his work for page, stage, and screen. I focus particularly on Harrison’s engagement with the dramatic and imaginative world of the ancient Greeks, and his appropriation of the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and others to give a voice to those historically effaced from history, political power and culture on the grounds of language, class, and gender.Three examples of Harrison’s theatre works form the basis of this study. His version of The Oresteia for the National Theatre in 1981 posed a critique of the enduring cultural orthodoxies surrounding the text and the gender relationships it depicts. These themes were further developed in his libretto Medea: A Sex-War Opera (1985), which failed to achieve dramatic realisation in its intended form. Both The Oresteia and Medea offered searching examinations of the link between patriarchal and cultural values; Harrison’s The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus (1988; 1990) used the conventions of the Greek satyr play and fragments of Sophocles’ Ichneutae to scrutinise questions of social and cultural dispossession at different historical periods. Harrison’s poetry for the stage brings forceful, subversive, yet dramatically effective voices from the ‘margins’ into conflict with the exclusive world of classical literature and scholarship, in combative reworkings of ancient Greek drama that reveal urgent historical and contemporary resonances.

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