Staging Greek Tragedy

Event Type

Panel discussion

In partnership with the Abbey Theatre 

Event Details

Peacock stage, Abbey Theatre, Dublin

January 28, 2023 3:00 PM

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Staging Greek Tragedy
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About the event

Join us for this panel discussion and Q&A drawing on brilliant theatre artists’ insights into interpreting, performing and directing Greek tragedy for audiences today. 

Chaired by dramaturg Dr Tanya Dean, in conversation with two of Ireland’s acclaimed performers, Derbhle Crotty and Eileen Walsh, and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Acting Artistic Director, Erica Whyman. Together they will reflect on their experience of interpreting ancient texts and tragic roles including Medea, Hecuba and Clytemnestra. 

ClassicsNow highlights the rich tradition of Irish poets, novelists and playwrights reflecting on Ireland through the Classics. So we are delighted to present this event in partnership with the Abbey Theatre, where adaptations of Greek tragedy by writers from W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney to Conall Morrison and Marina Carr have been a thread through the repertoire over decades. 

Antigone Now: watch our discussion about staging Sophocles’ Antigone here


Derbhle Crotty is a renowned, award-winning Irish actress who has performed with many of the leading companies in Ireland and the UK. She originated the title part of Hecuba in Marina Carr's version at the RSC in 2015, directed by Erica Whyman.  Derbhle is currently appearing in the folk horror film Mandrake, in which she plays a ruthless mother, very much in the Greek tradition of the tragic heroine. 

Film/Television roles include Modern Love (Amazon), Wolf (Wildcat), The South Westerlies (RTE); Made In Italy, Melrose, Delicious (Sky Atlantic), Catastrophe (Avalon/Ch 4); Women on the Verge (Merman/RTE); On the Hemline, Can't Cope Won't Cope, Pure Mule (RTE); Rialto, Maze, The Children Act, Morning, Eden (Best Actor Award, Tribeca Film Festival 2008 and Best Actor Award. IFTA 2009); How Was Your Day? Gold, Snap, The Ballad of Kid Kanturk, Triage, Magdalene Sisters and The Van.

Theatre roles include Medea, Beginning, Crestfall (Gate Theatre, Dublin); The Plough and the Stars, Macbeth, Terminus (Best Actor award Irish Times 2008); The Playboy of the Western World, Saved, Portia Coughlan, Ariel (Abbey Theatre); The Seagull, How’s Life, Conversations on a Homecoming, Whistle in the Dark, Famine, The Gigli Concert (Druid Theatre Company); The Same (Best Actor nomination, Irish Times Theatre awards 2018); Request Programme, The Merchant of Venice, Disco Pigs (Corcadorca); Lippy (Dead Centre/Young Vic); Medea (Siren Productions); Danti Dan (Rough Magic); Aristocrats (Donmar Warehouse); The Unknown, The Internet is a Serious Business, Crave (Royal Court Theatre); The Crucible, Absolute Hell, Broad Shadow, Liolá (National Theatre, London); Little Eylof (Almeida); The Drowned World, Quiz Show (Traverse Theatre); The Believers (Frantic Assembly): Girl on the Altar (Kiln Theatre).

Erica is Acting Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She joined the RSC in 2013 as Deputy Artistic Director and is especially proud of her contribution to the company’s new work programming, to ensuring the contemporary relevance of the repertoire and to our national partnerships with schools and theatres. As Acting Artistic Director she has led the company through turbulent and challenging times, enacting a values-led, consultative approach to wide-reaching change. Erica has a passionate commitment to collaborative leadership and to equitable, inclusive practice. She will step down from the RSC in 2023 to pursue a freelance career.

Directing for the RSC includes Revolt, She Said. Revolt Again by Alice Birch, Hecuba by Marina Carr, The Seven Acts of Mercy by Anders Lustgarten, The Earthworks by Tom Morton-Smith, Miss Littlewood, a new musical by Sam Kenyon, A Museum in Baghdad by Hannah Khalil, and in 2021, FAITH, a city-wide two-day event for the City of Culture in Coventry written by Chino Odimba and Chris O’Connell. Her own Shakespeare productions have been noted for their inclusivity and innovation; A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation (2016), Romeo and Juliet (2018) and The Winter’s Tale (2020-2021) filmed for screening on the BBC in lockdown. In Spring 2023 she will direct the world premiere of Lolita Chakrabarti’s adaptation of Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell.

Erica was Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Northern Stage (2005-2012), Artistic Director of Southwark Playhouse (1998-2000) and of The Gate Theatre, Notting Hill (2000-2004), where she established the Equity Fringe contract, enabling performers to be paid there for the first time. At the Gate Erica directed David Lan’s version of Ion, and Giraudoux’s Electra, and produced a season of reinventions of classical plays including Tom Paulin’s The Riot Act.

She was one of the first fellows on the Clore Leadership Programme in 2004. In 2012 she won the TMA Award for Theatre Manager of the Year and was awarded an OBE for services to UK Theatre. In 2016 she won the Peter Brook Empty Space Special Achievement Award and in 2022 she is the recipient of the Excellence in International Theatre Award from the International Institute of Theatre and Dance.

Dr Tanya Dean is a Lecturer and Programme Chair for the B.A. (Hons) in Drama (Performance) in the Technological University Dublin Conservatoire. She completed her Doctor of Fine Arts with Yale School of Drama in 2016, where she also received her Master of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism in 2011. Tanya has worked extensively as a freelance dramaturg on numerous scripts, workshops and productions in Ireland, the UK, the USA, and Iceland. Tanya is a board member for Rough Magic Theatre Company and is also Associate Dramaturg of Then This Theatre Company in Dublin. 

From 2015-2017, Tanya served as a committee member for #WakingTheFeminists, and was a Research Associate on the report, Gender Counts: An Analysis Of Gender In Irish Theatre 2006-15. From 2020 to 2021, Tanya served as one of the judges for the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards. She is currently the Script Associate for the Abbey Theatre.

Festival Partners

Literature IrelandInstituto Italiano di Cultura DublinoThe Classical Teachers Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of IrelandThe Classical Association of Northern IrelandAdvocating Classics EducationIrish Institute of Hellenic Studies at AthensMaynooth UniversityTrinity College DublinInstituto Italiano di Cultura Dublino

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