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By: Jean Racine (1639-1699)

Book cover Phaedra

In the court of Louis XIV, adaptations of Greek tragedies were very popular. This play, heavily influenced by Euripides' Hippolytus, deals with love that violates social taboos. Note: In Racine's work, a new "scene" begins whenever a character enters or exits. Therefore, there are no stage directions, only a list of the characters on stage for each scene. The action is continuous for the entire act.

Book cover Esther
Book cover (French) Mithridate
Book cover (Dutch) De Pleiters
Book cover Thebaid, or The Brothers at War

"The reign of Louis XIV. in France, like the age of Pericles at ancient Athens, was remarkable for literary excellence no less than for military achievements. Like Euripides, Racine confined himself almost exclusively to tragedy.... It was under Molière's friendly auspices that Racine's first published play, "La Thébaïde," was put upon the stage ... at the Palais Royale, Molière's own theater." The story, very much the opposite of a Moliere farce, describes the battle between the brothers Eteocles and Polynices, and being a proper tragedy does not end well for anyone...

Book cover Alexander the Great

Racine caused furour in the French theater community with his second play, Alexander the Great, when "The sensitive poet seems to have been disgusted by the manner in which it was being acted; for, a fortnight after it had been put on the boards at the Palais Royal [by Moliere], Moliere's company learned with astonishment and indignation that it was being simultaneously performed at a rival theatre." "The story of this drama is derived from Quintus Curtius, Plutarch, and Justin." Racine followed the rules of classical French dramatists: one main plot, action takes place in one day and at one location...

Book cover Andromache

In this tragedy [about part of the aftermath of the Trojan War], which made its appearance in 1667, there is a more intricate plot than is usual in Racine's plays, and it offers a greater variety of character and motive. Love, jealousy, friendship, conjugal fidelity, maternal tenderness, anger, and despair are all portrayed with skillful touches; and if the language is that of the French Court of the seventeenth century, the natural emotions of the human heart, the same in all ages, show themselves...

Book cover Litigants

This play, which is neither a comedy or a farce but has elements in common with each, was first performed in 1668 at Paris, and afterwards at Versailles. It is a French adaptation of "The Wasps" of Aristophanes. Racine's own experience of law and lawyers was derived from the suit in which he had been involved about the Priory of Epernay, during the course of which he picked up a number of barbarous terms "which," to quote his own words, "neither my judges nor I ever properly understood" - Summary...

Book cover Britannicus

Britannicus is son and heir of the Roman emperor Claudius. However, this does not please Nero, who wants both throne and Britannicus's fiancee Junia. - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Nero, emperor, son of Agrippina: Dale Burgess Britannicus, son of Messalina and of the emperor Claudius: David Purdy Agrippina, widow of Domitus Ahenbarbus, the Father of Nero, and widow by her second marriage of the emperor Claudius: Matea Bracic Junia, beloved by Britannicus: thestorygirl Burrus, tutor of Nero: ToddHW Narcissus, tutor of Britannicus: Alan Mapstone Albina, confidential friend of Agrippina: Sonia Stage Directions: Larry Wilson Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Berenice

Titus, emperor of Rome, wants to marry Berenice, queen of Palestine, but decides that Rome will not be able to handle having him marry a foreign queen. Berenice refuses to stay in this case and leaves Rome. Unlike many of the other Racine plays, there actually are survivors at the end of this one! - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Titus, emperor of Rome: Adrian Stephens Berenice, queen of Palestine: WendyKatzHiller Antiochus, king of Commagene: ToddHW Paulinus, a friend of Titus: Tchaikovsky Arsaces, a friend of Antiochus: Alan Mapstone Phoenice, a friend of Berenice: Jenn Broda Rutilus, a Roman: Larry Wilson Stage Directions: Sonia Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Bajazet

"The time to which this tragedy relates is much later than that of any other of Racine's historical plays. The capture of Babylon from the Persians by Sultan Amurath IV, on which the catastrophe of the plot depends, occurred only a year before the poet's birth, viz 1638." - Summary by the Translator Cast list: Bajazet, Brother of Sultan Amurath: VocalPenguin Roxana, Sultana, the favorite of Sultan Amurath: Matea Bracic Atalide, a Turkish Damsel of Royal Blood: Availle Achmet, the Grand Vizier: ToddHW Osman, Friend of the Grand Vizier: Alan Mapstone Fatima, a Slave of the Sultana: Jenn Broda Zara, a Slave of Atalide: Sonia Stage Directions: Larry Wilson Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Mithridates

Another tragedy by Racine, based on the historical character and career of Mithridates circa 63 BCE. Closing with sorrow and lamentation and promises of a "search for vengeance". - Summary by ToddHW Cast list: Mithridates, King of Pontus and of many other lands: Greg Giordano Monima, betrothed to Mithridates, and already declared Queen: Sonia Pharnaces, son of Mithridates: Jenn Broda Xiphares, son of Mithridates: Tchaikovsky Arbates, friend of Mithridates, and Governor of Nymphaeum: ToddHW Phoedima, Friend of Monima: WendyKatzHiller Arcas, Servant of Mithridates: Joanna Michal Hoyt Stage Directions: Alan Mapstone Editing: ToddHW

Book cover Iphigenia

Racine's version of the time-honored story of Iphigenia was acted for the first time in 1674. The model upon which it is shaped is the "Iphigenia in Aulis" of his favorite Euripides, but the French poet has heightened the romantic interest and complicated the plot by the important part which Eriphyle is made to play. - Summary by Introduction Cast list: Agamemnon: Greg Giordano Achilles: Alan Mapstone Ulysses: ToddHW Clytaemnestra, Wife of Agamemnon: Sonia Iphigenia, Daughter of Agamemnon:...

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