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Theatre in Contemporary Culture

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Aeschylus’ Agamemnon adaptation of the play is executed in the modern way. It can be said that the integrity and the credibility of the script and of the characters are still evident. The play ran for less than two hours with intervals. It started with the prologue in which the victory of Troy was proclaimed by the tower guards. The symbolic lighting of the towers signified the victory of Troy and the joyous occasion each one should celebrate. The history of the Trojan War was also related as told by the chorus, the old men of Argos.

To refresh our memory, the War is because of Agamemnon and Menaleaus desire to recapture the beautiful Helen of Troy, the wife of Meneleaus. In Agamemnon’s absence, his wife Clytemnestra ordered the sacrifice to the gods. In this gesture, Agamemnon sacrificed their daughter Iphigenia. The story continues with the announcement of Clytemnestra of the fall of Troy to Greeks, this to the surprise of the chorus in Argos. This caused the alarm for Argos’ citizens, as the cost of war is unfortunate to them.

            After a ten-year absence, Agamemnon returned bringing the joy to the Argos city and sorrow for the lives cost at war. With Agamemnon’s’ return, Menaleus is not with him after his disappearance in the storm. The city of Argos expressed their discouragement over Helen, the reason for the costly war. The chorus then praises the courage of Agamemnon and regards his wisdom and reminds them of the loyalty and obedience to the leader who served them well. In one part of the scene, Clytemnestra declares her distress and grief over waiting for her husband. With Agamemnons’ return is his mistress Cassandra.

The daughter of Priam, Cassandra was ordered by Clytemnestra to be offered to the gods. Cassandra in return called to the god Apollo and graced her with prophecy of the future acts of violence over the city of Argos. In Cassandra’s prophecy, the first couple of Argos will be killed by a “woman lioness” but will be revenged by the son. This rages Clytemnestra and decided to murder both Agamemnon and Cassandra.

As the feeling of triumph emerged with Clytemnestra, the chorus then debated the reputation of Agamemnon with Clytemnestra. They still blame the fate to Helen of Troy. Clytemnestra has a lover named Aegisthus. She relates to him her triumph and her bravery in removing Argos’ sins and curse. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus then led Argos and took control of the city. The chorus gave a finale warning that Agamemnons’ son, Orestes will avenge his father’s death. This is according to Cassandra’s prophecy.

            The challenge of modern play is the adaptation of a historical account in modern times and views. In modern interpretation, the play must present and remain essentially to the original indispensable of the play. The language of the play does not disturb the intention of the playwrights. In the play, the focal point is not just the character of Agamemnon, but the character and struggles of Clytemnestra. The character of Clytemnestra, despite disagreements to the most of audience, is not at all evil. In my point of view, the character of Clytemnestra signifies justice.

As repulsive as her character is, she is a definition of human society and divine authority. Her character exudes private and righteous anger. An audience can realize through her character that the end is only characterized with defeat. In the opening acts of the play, the triumph of Troy is celebrated. This reminded the audience of the War that preceded the entirety of the plays’ intention.

Agamemnon as depicted in the rest of the plays performs the same dramatic function. During the first parts of the play, his identity was given of significant importance and was assessed throughout the duration of the first part of the play. Further examining the contents of Agamemnon’s’ view, the chorus, symbolizing the city of Argos agrees with views and wisdom of the leader Agamemnon. But at the same time, as can be noticed, sympathized with the grief and sentiments of his wife Clytemnestra.

            As both the characters of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra were reflected in the play, the women in Argos are depicted with rage and anger. This is a contrast to how they were depicted in the earlier plays involving the women of Troy. Both chorus from the men and women has significant differences. The women chorus also expressed their anger of Iphigenia’s sacrifice.

Iphigenia’s’ character should also be pondered upon. Her character is a reflection of how a woman matures and takes her life with and in control. I would also like to note the transitions and cuts from one scene to another is should also be noted as good in the play. Not just because it is executed in the right manner, but rather the end and beginning of the transition periods is in context to the logical interpretation and execution of the play.

            It seems obvious to include in a theater criticism the visuals of the play. In the play, and most Greeks tragedies for that matter, masks are worn. The mask as most critiques explained is a symbolic gesture for vocal and freedom in expression. The consistent opening of the eyes and mouth area signifies how Greek tragedies are portrayed as straightforward, decisive and strong. The opened eyes relate the one direction taken by the characters wearing the mask. The open mouthpiece relates the freedom of expression and use of verbal abilities to invoke emotions and reaction.

Although the title is Agamemnon, I should regard Clytemnestra as the character who is placed in the spotlight and is exposed in the play, more than anybody else, her actions, perception and feelings driven the play into full swing. This added the essence of the play, the depiction of a character that experienced tragedy.  The question regarding how the historical play is depicted in contemporary settings and interpretation is a challenge more than a hindrance in making quality plays that is meaningful and encouraged to be viewed and subjected to different opinions and ideals.


  1. “Plays: Agamemnon.” Think Quest Team, 1998.

  1. Anonymous. “Agamemnon.”

  1. Davis, Richard E. “Creating Clytemnestra.” Didaskalia, 1994. 1. Vol. 1.

  1. Kirshen, Doug. “Geneva Convention.” 1994. 1. Vol. 1.

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