This ancient Greek tragedy is retold in a new forthright translation by Princeton alumnus Mark Decitre ’18 after Jean Racine’s classic French play. Princeton senior J. Sansone takes on the challenging role of Phèdre, mining the deep emotions of a woman who is an unwelcome outsider, in this spare and exposed production directed by faculty member Suzanne Agins.
A talkback with Marc Decitre ’18 follows the April 6 performance.
About the show and translation: Racine’s 1677 play written in Alexandrine verse is based on both Euripides’ Greek play Hippolytus and Seneca’s Roman play, Phaedra, or Phèdrein French. The play, set in the ancient Greek city of Troezen, tells the tragic tale of the wife of King Theseus, Phèdre, and her forbidden romantic obsession with her stepson Hippolytus, who despises her. Phèdre, believing Theseus has died while on an extended quest, is encouraged by her servant, Oenone, to convince Hippolytus to take his father’s place – in every way. Hippolytus is disgusted by his stepmother’s seduction and flees. In a plot again encouraged by Oenone, Phèdre falsely accuses Hippolytus of raping her. When Theseus returns from his sojourn and learns of these false and real betrayals while he was away, he exacts his revenge.
Marc Decitre, Princeton Class of 2018, wrote this translation while an undergraduate. Scenes from the script received a workshop reading in October 2017 by the student French theater group L’Avant Scene during the multi-day arts festival marking the opening of the Lewis Arts complex. Director Suzanne Agins describes Marc’s script as, “a beautiful free-verse English translation that remains faithful to Racine’s structure without trying to be a literal version of the original French rhyming verse.” She notes that Marc’s sparse and clean language has influenced the bare and exposed design of this production. Marc has been involved in the production, continuing to develop the script and its language based on what is learned through the rehearsal process. He will host a post-show audience talkback following the April 6 performance.
More information on the April 6th event of “Phèdre” (https://www.mccarter.org/season/2018–2019/pdps/phedre/)