Written by Jean Racine
Directed by Spencer Golub
February 28-March 3 & March 7-10
Thursday-Saturday @ 8pm
Sunday @ 2pm
Jean Racine’s 1677 Phaedra grows out of a landscape inspired from Greek mythology and infused with possibilities of the spectacular to become what critics have deemed to be a radically modern tragedy. Voltaire called it “the masterpiece of the human mind.” An anatomy of anxiety and desire, it is a masterpiece of the human mind that shows the workings of the mind on the edges of madness, the ruin of reason by uncontrollable and fragmenting passion.
In Phaedra’s world, the sleepless place that is the stage becomes a compressed space for the exploration of prohibition and its fascination, guilt and repression, surveillance, and the unending games of power. As philosopher Simon Critchley remarked, on this stage Phaedra is “the insomniac of the day.” Born to play the role of her life from which there is no escape, she is the great tragedian’s role in the history of drama. A role that can only be played to the point of exhaustion.
French philosopher and literary critic Roland Barthes was not sure if it was still possible to act Racine today because Racinian theatre seems so removed from the present social context. Engaging old and new resources of theatricality, Brown theatre’s production of Phaedra shows that this is indeed possible – or, perhaps, impossibly possible. And, in so doing, it will blow your mind.