Born in Elgin, and originally trained as a musician, Robert David MacDonald spent some years as a translator for UNESCO before becoming assistant director at Glyndebourne and at the Royal Opera at Covent Garden. He directed plays and operas in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Houston, Minneapolis and Vienna. He was co-director of the Citizens' Theatre Company, Glasgow from 1971 to 2003 and wrote fifteen plays for the company. He died on 19 May 2004.
The plays in this volume - Cinna, The Misanthrope, Andromache and Phaedra - span only thirty-seven years, but make up the defining period of French theatre. In Corneille's Cinna (1640), absolute power is explored in ancient Rome, while Molière's The Misanthrope (1666), the only comedy in this collection, sees its anti-hero outcast for his refusal to conform to social conventions. Here also are two key plays by Racine: Andromache (1667), recounting the tragedy of Hector's widow after the Trojan War, and Phaedre (1677), showing a mother crossing the bounds of love with her son.
This translation of Phaedra was originally broadcast on Radio Three with a cast including Prunella Scales and Timothy West, and was praised by playwright Harold Pinter. This is the first time it has been published. The edition also includes an introduction by Joseph Harris, genealogical tables, pronunciation guides, critiques and prefaces, as well as a chronology and suggested further reading.
After a varied career as an actor, teacher, and BBC TV national newsreader, John Edmunds became the founder-director of Aberystwyth University's department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies. Joseph Harris is Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London and author of Hidden Agendas: Cross-Dressing in Seventeenth-Century France (2005).
Originally published in 1966.
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