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Greek Tragedy And A Newzealand Poet

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Chapter Summary

An important factor in the ongoing survival of ancient drama has been its capacity for reinterpretation by succeeding generations. There is also reinterpretation through re-performance, in a variety of theatres for audiences, a phenomenon which has attracted particular scholarly attention in recent years. This chapter explores three twentieth-century plays written by New Zealander James K. Baxter. Throughout his career he wrote as many as twenty-two plays, including four inspired by Greek tragedy. Two of the plays, The Sore-Footed Man and The Temptations of Oedipus retain an ancient Greek setting, while The Bureaucrat and Mr O'Dwyer's Dancing Party are given a contemporary context. Baxter used all his plays, including these "Greek" ones, both in order to present in dramatic form the same workings of his inner mind that found expression in his poetry and also as a possibly more effective vehicle for his passionate criticism of New Zealand society.

Keywords: Greek tragedy; James K. Baxter; Newzealand poet; reinterpretation; The Bureaucrat; The Sore-Footed Man; The Temptations of Oedipus



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