When Then Is Now brings together Brendan Kennelly’s modern versions of three Greek tragedies: Antigone by Sophocles and Euripides' Medea and The Trojan Women. All three plays dramatise timeless human dilemmas as relevant now as they were in ancient times. All focus on women whose lives are torn apart by war, family conflict and despotic regimes.
In his preface, Brendan Kennelly describes how writing these three plays helped him enormously at difficult times in his own life. When Then Is Now gives living testament of his belief that ‘listening to ancient voices can help us confront, understand and express many problems of today’.
The Trojan Women: ‘One of the most subversive manifestations of dramatic art that has been seen in recent times…subverts the original, which itself was subversive of societal norms in 415 bc, when it was first staged…ancient drama recrafted in contemporary terms about war and men and women, well worthy of the stage of any national theatre’ – Irish Times
Medea: ‘Accessible, immediate, urgent…his language makes you feel the force of Medea’s passions as closely and vividly as Euripides’ audiences’ – Guardian. ‘Marvellously achieved… delicately honed, full-bloodedly direct and timeless in its relevance’ – Irish Independent.
Antigone: ‘Brendan Kennelly’s new version of Sophocles’ Antigone is probably the most substantial Irish drama since W.B. Yeats was writing’ – Irish Times.
When Then Is Now was published simultaneously with Brendan Kennelly’s book-length poetry sequence, Now. His Antigone and The Trojan Women were both first performed at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin, in 1986 and 1993 respectively; Medea premièred in the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1988, toured in England in 1989 and was broadcast by BBC Radio 3. His version of Lorca's Blood Wedding was premièred by Northern Stage in Newcastle and Derby in 1996, and is available in a separate edition from Bloodaxe.
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