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The Tragedy of Coriolanus


     The Tragedy of Coriolanus slowly peels away the mask from what is often seen as the beginning of modern democracy––the Roman Republic. It reveals and dissects how a democracy can quickly disintegrate into a dysfunctional system: a tool for a few to gain more and more power at the expense of the needs of the people.

     Ultimately the play exposes the bitter struggle and fatal end that await those, like Coriolanus, who oppose the privileged leaders. Coriolanus’ innate qualities––sincerity, justice, truthfulness, and integrity––are alien to the realpolitik of civic power. His tragedy starts the moment he agrees to enter politics: he is enticed by the power of the Consul's position and is pushed into it by his patrician friends and by his mother – all of whom wish to gain honor and power through his advancement. By making his first step into politics, he betrays his own nature, and the inexorable avalanche of his undoing begins. 

     In our production, Rome became a hyper-modern dystopia, mixing together fascist, futuristic and ancient elements. In this world, politics is a slick, pornographic TV show; a system designed to manipulate the masses, with clear rules about what should be said and how to say it. Is there a place in this Rome for a warrior like Coriolanus, with his seemingly obsolete values of honor, loyalty, sacrifice and duty?

     The Tragedy of Coriolanus jars us into seeing that many of our "convictions" are actually hollow truisms in the service of self-serving political forces that manipulate our society and our lives.


Yale School of Drama, The Iseman Theater, April 2015


Play by: William Shakespeare

Stage Design: Jungah Han

Costume Designer: Asa Benally

Lighting Designe: Caitlin Elizabeth Smith Rapoport

Composer and Sound Designers: Sinan Refik Zafar

Projection Designer: Ni Wen

Fight Choreographer: Michael Rossmy

Dramaturgy: Ashley Chang

Stage Manager: Ben Pfister

Actors (in alphabetical order):

Ato Blankson-Wood, Jenelle Chu, Paul Cooper, James Cusati- Moyer, Chris Ghaffari, Chasten Harmon, Maura Hooper, Thomas Pecinka, Niall Powderly, Ariana Venturi

Production Photos: Joey Moro

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