Poster for conference on Greeks and Romans on the Latin-American stage

The organisers of the Greeks and Romans on the Latin American Stage conference Rosa Andújar (University College London and Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos (Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia join CC’s Anastasia Bakogianni to talk about the reception of classical drama in Latin America.

Until recently, little was known about Latin American responses to Greek and Roman drama. Rosa and Konstantinos tell us what originally drew them to this topic, and how the idea for the conference was born. The complexity and diversity of Latin American performance reception demands an interdisciplinary approach, so Rosa and Konstantinos brought together a number of specialists in Classics, Spanish-American, Luso-Brazilian, and French-Caribbean literatures, and Theatre Studies. Rosa and Konstantinos explain what classicists can gain from an engagement with Latin American receptions.

Rosa and Konstantinos discuss what is distinctive about Latin American receptions of classical drama. During colonial times, the region lacked a coherent educational infrastructure in the Graeco-Roman classics, such as the one installed by the British in their colonies. Rosa argues that this gave Latin American dramatists more freedom to receive and approach the ancient plays in a rich variety of ways, since they were not burdened by a larger mediating history of receptions that stood between them and the work of the ancient playwrights. Notably, Latin American receptions of Greek drama have often emphasised female characters such as Antigone, Medea and Electra. Medea the witch, for example, has often been associated with voodoo practices; Antigone has often been portrayed as a freedom fighter opposing the many dictatorships that ruled Latin America in the twentieth century, thus putting ancient masks on present troubles. The ancient past haunted Latin American dramatists as it did their counterparts in Europe, North America and Africa, but these ancient shadows fell on Latin America in very distinctive and unique patterns.

Follow this link to watch our interview, and to learn more about this exciting new chapter in the study of the afterlife of Greek and Roman drama.

This interview was filmed by kind permission at UCL’s Department of Greek and Latin.