Sallie Goetsch
Visiting Scholar
Department of Classics
UC Berkeley

It has become a truism of the modern performance of ancient drama that the chorus is the aspect of Greek tragedy which presents the greatest challenge to a modern director. But one of the major reasons that the chorus seems 'un-dramatic' to the Greekless director is the style in which choral passages are rendered in the most popular of the published translations. Choral odes were not 'poetry' as 20th-century English literature thinks of it. The word 'chorus' means 'dance.' To be true to the spirit of the original, a translation has to render the Greek in such a way that it can be danced to and preferably sung, as well. This makes it particularly important for the translator to pay attention to the meter, which provides the dance beat as well as the emotional overtones of each passage. Proper collaboration between translator, director, composer, and choreographer can bring a modern audience to an understanding of why the chorus was so important, and interesting, to the fifth-century Athenian. This talk will examine various ways in which to incorporate the powerful sound and feel of the Greek in order to bring out the full dramatic potential of the chorus.

Sallie Goetsch