THE SUPPLIANT WOMEN, THE EGYPTIANS, DANAIDS & AMYMONE
a reconstruction of the lost tetralogy by Aeschylus by John Browne, Ramin Gray, David Greig and Sasha Milavic Davies
The Suppliant Women opens a cycle of four plays by Aeschylus, first performed in Athens in 463 BC. It’s one of the earliest Greek plays to have survived. Sadly, the other three plays, The Egyptians, Danaids and the satyr play Amymone, have been lost. In December 2017, director Ramin Gray and composer John Browne staged a new production of The Suppliant Women at Konzerttheater Bern in Switzerland with a community chorus of 28 local women. Following the Swiss production, The Suppliant Women was staged in the UK during 2016 and 2017 at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh and the Young Vic, London. Renowned Scottish playwright David Greig created a new version of the play, following a literal translation to ensure maximum fidelity to the original. For the UK tour two professional actors, one chorus leader and two musicians worked with newly created community choruses at each venue. The music comprised percussion and the haunting sound of the aulos, the twin pipes on which all classical theatre was accompanied. This was the first Greek production to be heard with the aulos since antiquity. The production then toured to The Dublin Theatre Festival and Hong Kong Arts Festival. We will now recreate the final three plays in the Danaid tetralogy, starting with the two remaining plays in The Suppliant Women trilogy – The Egyptians and Danaids. Since only fragments remain, the plays will be reconstructed through a workshop process supported by some of the world’s leading classical scholars, arts organisations and practitioners. Once the development process is completed, we will rehearse and stage the entire trilogy, including a revival of The Suppliant Women, around the world. We will then complete the tetralogy with the satyr play Amymone.
The Suppliant Women begins when a group of refugee women arrive at Argos in Greece. The citizens are forced to consider the obligations of hospitality and asylum. The women are fleeing forced marriage in their homeland, Egypt. Now they must persuade the citizens of Argos to grant them asylum. A referendum is triggered to resolve this quandary. The play probes who we are, where we belong, and, if it all goes wrong, who will take us in? It couldn’t be more relevant today. The texts of the remaining plays in the trilogy have been lost. However, one significant passage from Danaids has survived, a beautiful speech attributed to the goddess Aphrodite. Together with a few fragments from The Egyptians and alternate versions of the myth, we have started to reconstruct the stories. In consultation with acclaimed classicists (Edith Hall, Oliver Taplin, Armand d’Angour, Wolfgang Rösler and Alan Sommerstein amongst others) we will develop the scripts for both plays, replicating what we know of the original creation process. The Egyptians and Danaids will be created through an extensive workshop process beginning in the autumn of 2021, alongside a revival of The Suppliant Women, and continuing throughout 2022. We will stage the world premiere of both plays in 2023. The trilogy will then tour around the world while we develop the final play, Amymone which will be added in 2024 to complete the tetralogy.
“AN EPIC FEMINIST PROTEST SONG” “ASTONISHING … BRILLIANT”
“BEAUTIFUL, ELEGANT, OUTSTANDING”