Greeks: Classic to Contemporary

Helen McCrory Medea NT Photo Credit Richard H Smith

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What can the Greeks mean to us today?

Filicide. Revenge. Incest. Faith. What can the Greeks mean to us today? Are they timeless classics or do they require radical reinterpretation? Authors Kamila Shamsie (Home Fire, a retelling of Antigone) and David Vann (Bright Air Black, a retelling of Medea), and director Robert Icke (director and adaptor of Oresteia at the Almeida Theatre) discuss why and how these ancient tales may be reimagined for book and stage, and what being faithful to the original means. Chaired by Edith Hall.

Kamila Shamsie is the author of six novels: In the City by the Sea; Kartography (both shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize); Salt and Saffron; Broken Verses; Burnt Shadows (shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction) and, most recently, A God in Every Stone, which was shortlisted for the Baileys Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. Three of her novels have received awards from Pakistan's Academy of Letters. Kamila Shamsie is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was named a Granta Best of Young British Novelist in 2013. 

David Vann is the author of the international bestseller Legend of a Suicide, and four more novels, Caribou Island, Dirt, Goat Mountain and Aquarium, as well as two bestselling non-fiction books, Last Day on Earth and A Mile Down.  

Robert Icke is the Associate Director of the Almeida Theatre, London, where his productions include Oresteia, Hamlet (with Andrew Scott) and Mary Stuart, which all transferred to the West End. His other Almeida work includes Uncle Vanya and 1984 (co-adapted and directed with Duncan Macmillan) which played three seasons in the West End and, this summer, opened on Broadway. Oresteia won ‘Best Director’ at the 2016 Olivier Awards, and ‘Best Director’ at both the Critics Circle and Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2015. In 2018, he will direct his new version of Oedipus for Toneelgroep Amsterdam.

Edith Hall is a Professor in the Classics Department and Centre for Hellenic Studies at King’s College, London. She has published more than 20 books, broadcasts frequently on radio and television, lectures all over the world, and advises professional theatres on Ancient Greek literature and theatre, and its continuing relevance in the modern world. 

Image: Helen McCrory in the National Theatre production of Medea, photo by Richard H Smith


Name: Greeks: Classic to Contemporary
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Member: £8.00
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Under 18: £8.00
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Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546