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Philip Zapkin

Performing Democratic Protest: Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott and David Greig’s The Suppliant Women

This essay argues that Gary Owen’s Iphigenia in Splott (2015) and David Greig’s version of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women (2016), directed in its inaugural tour by Ramin Gray, use opposite dramaturgical techniques to advocate for a comparable goal: increased direct democracy and civic responsibility. Owen uses the form of his didactic monologue play to highlight the destructive results of austerity politics. Effie, the play’s protagonist, explicitly accuses the audience of being complicit with the destruction of the social safety net—policies which lead to the death of her baby. In contrast to Owen’s single actor, Greig and Gray used Choruses of women recruited from each city the show toured to enact a civic collectivity. By having the audience’s mothers, wives, sisters, etc. perform the powerful Choral role, the play encourages audiences to identify with refugees and elevates a democratic decision to support asylum seekers.

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