“Agamemnon” was a play written by ancient Greek named Aeschylus. His work has inspired many genres after the ancient Greece era. They were many re-enactments of the play during the Greco-Roman times, Romanticism Era, as well as the Renaissance era. It is well recognized by many of history’s notables such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Richard Wagner. The play’s re-enactment still continues to this day. The production of in the play “Agamemnon” has varied in the apparel aspect because of the time or era in which it’s played and of the creativity and perspective of producers doing the re-enactment. In the following paragraphs, I demonstrate the popularity among notables and describe what apparel in today’s era is the characters of “Agamemnon” clothed in.
The play’s popularity is seen throughout history by the praise it drew and re-enactments. Napoleon Bonaparte, while in exile in 1816, showed his admiration for the play by reading it aloud to his supporters. (Simon Goodhill) He demonstrated exuberance and life as he read Aeschylus’s work. “He strongly admired it for its extreme force combined with great simplicity” depicted one of Napoleon’s companions. Napoleon’s reading engendered an ambiance that allowed his listeners to imagine and enact the play in their minds. “We were struck above all by the amplification of horror which characterizes the theatrical productions of the Father of Tragedy. And yet there, one could observe that initial spark to which our beautiful modern light is linked.”(Goodhill) Napoleon as well as his companions admired the talent of Aeschylus and felt his work can be replayed in their era because they can relate to it. Richard Wagner, who was a composer, musician, and essayist, admired the works of Aeschylus work. His wife, Cosima Wagner, chronicled in her diary of her husband’s fascination with Aeschylus’s work, especially of “Agamemnon.” The play’s enactment was memorable to the audience when Clytemnestra’s cry, Agamemnon’s wife, saying “Apollo, Apollo.” (Goodhill.)
The enactment of Agamemnon has changed throughout the centuries. From wooden and metal masks to ancient but simple garbs and props, every reader or producer depicts and organizes the play according to their own perception and genres that he or she adheres to. They do their best to resemble this great story. Every era that performed this play with apparel and tools at their disposal. In a review by Thurman Stanback, he observes Agamemnon along with other Greek plays. He chronicled the head of the god in the play was ornately made. “The setting included a stylized head of a god surrounded by cornstalks and was used as an altar.” Then Agamemnon, enacted by John Sharpnel, (Thurman Stanback, pg. 525) came onto the scene with a chariot that resembled an “anti-tank machine” pulled by females. The soldiers in the play were depicted by wearing Russian coats with small helmets. The gowns worn by the women varied from simple apparel to flowing majestic robes. The gown’s lavishness depended on the role that women acted in the play.
Francois Rochaix reproduced an English version of “Agamemnon” and modernized the story to today’s age and vernacular. He used Robert Auletta’s version to reproduce. In the opening scene, the actor who plays Agamemnon comes in through a “gulf war” humvee. (Patrick Rourke) The Watchman wore rags and seedy clothing to demonstrate is a humble state. Clytemnestra dresses lavishly and disrespects her subjects with profanity and swearing. The chorus wears clothing of today’s day and age (20th Century hats, shoes, etc.) Cassandra, Agamemnon’s spoil of war, wears Middle Eastern clothing (Rourke) to show she came from Troy, located in the Asian Minor. Her clothing depicted that the Asian Minor had a middle-eastern influence on it.
The play has been re-enacted a plethora of times and it reverberated through the perspective of the producers influenced through the genre of their day. The costumes varied in each enactment. Each play had a different version but the same storyline. Masks may have been used abundantly in the past, but now actors doing ancient plays relegated their own faces as masks with some adornment depending on what character one is portraying.
1) Goodhill, Simon “http://tls.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25337-2195204,00.html”
3) Stanback, Thurman The Greeks, Review author[s]: Theatre Journal
4) Rourke, Patrick”http://www.didaskalia.net/issues/vol3no2/rourke.html”>http://www.didaskalia.net/issues/vol3no2/rourke.ht