Dido/Elissa: Female Mythopoetics in the Work of Magdalena Zira
This article offers an analysis of Greek writer and director Magdalena Zira’s Dido/ Elissa, set on stage by Fantastico Theatre in December 2021 (Nicosia, Cyprus), to outline the play’s feminist edge in the context of the radical reworking of classical myth by contemporary feminism. Engaging classical reception, comparative, and feminist scholarship, the article examines points of convergence and divergence between Zira and the epic material around the character of Dido and traces elective affinities between Zira and British writer Νatalie Haynes’s A Thousand Ships (2019), a wide-ranging feminist rewriting of the Iliad, in her attempt to promote a new model of female subjectivity and theatrical practice, as well as a new awareness of alterity. The article further adopts a comparative lens to examine Zira’s work as the genealogical offspring of feminism’s subversive appropriation of classical myth— and the epic tradition in particular—since the 1970s onwards. It thus draws attention to the standing and growing importance of the feminist reception of classical myth in contemporary culture, consisting in denouncing the persisting phallic societal structures and promoting female models and alternative narratives, other than the dominant and the institutionalized.
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