Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

“The Odyssey and Modern Drama: Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: The Play”

Thursday, March 15, 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Location: 156 Schwartz
Event Type: Lecture

A Public Lecture by Dr. Kailin Wright, Department of English. This is the fourth Capstone Lecture in the Humanities Colloquium for the current academic year.

Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad: The Play (2007) does much more than adapt Homer’s The Odyssey from the female characters’ points of view. The play demonstrates popular strategies of political adaptations and the chorus of disenfranchised women provides a model political audience. In line with the traditional Greek chorus who functioned as commentators, The Penelopiad: The Play conceives the chorus as a defiant united audience that instructs the real audience on how to resist dominant myths. As Atwood explains, “the chorus of Maids is in part a tribute to the use of the chorus in Greek tragedy, in which lowly characters comment on the main action” (Penelopiad vi). This paper examines The Penelopiad: The Play’s retelling of classical mythology and its methodologies for changing the way we think about Penelope and her handmaids. The paper ends by considering the play’s political impact. Ultimately, the play gathers an empowered collective onstage and off: Atwood uses the chorus to unite the real audience as a political force. The Penelopiad: The Play not only gathers a collective but also instructs them on how to resist inherited mythologies.

All are welcome to attend this lecture.

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