Chorus stand and fall together in Greek drama

Burial at Thebes

Burial at Thebes - Credit: Archant

Director Rosemary Goodman is hoping to get a chorus of approval for her re-think about a key element of the next Company of Ten production, The Burial At Thebes.

For the staging of the play in the Abbey Theatre Studio has posed a major challenge because the Chorus, an integral part of Greek Theatre, would have been a group of 12 to 15 masked men performing in large open-air ampitheatres seating many thousands of people.

In the strict confines of the Studio and using a 21st century translation by Seamus Heaney brought forward to the late 1940s after the Greek Civil War, it was felt inappropriate to recreate a classical approach.

Rosemary explained: “I felt that choral speaking would not fit in with the modern-day setting so I divided up the long passages of verse, and shared them out so that the Chorus members appear to be having conversations.

“Each actor chose a name and a back story for themselves. They became the local townspeople. The Chorus leader became the ex-mayor and we also have a garage owner, nurse, teacher, and soldier with shell-shock.”

Chloe-Jane Dyson takes the role of Eleni, a pregnant farmer’s wife whose husband and father have both been killed in the war. She said, “Two of my fellow chorus members play my mother and sister and it has been lovely working on our family dynamic. Although we mostly speak as individuals, there are powerful moments when we all speak together, more like a traditional Greek Chorus.”

Anne Stafford-Murray, a seasoned actor and playwright, added, “I feel that we give harmony to the main characters’ melody and provide a conscience. This is the first time I have spoken in a Chorus, although I have sung in one, and in both cases you need to trust and rely on each other.”

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The Burial At Thebes runs for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes without an interval. It can be seen at 8pm tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday and from next Tuesday, October 13, to Saturday, October 17. There is also a 2.30pm matinee this Sunday, October 11.

For tickets go to or call the box office on 01727 857861