by: Jean Anouilh

The Chorus

In Greek tragedy, the Chorus consisted of a group of approximately ten people, playing the role of death messenger, dancing, singing, and commenting throughout from the margins of the action. Anouilh reduces the Chorus to a single figure who retains his collective function nevertheless. The Chorus represents an indeterminate group, be it the inhabitants of Thebes or the moved spectators. It also appears as narrator. The Chorus frames the play with a prologue and epilogue, introducing the action and characters under the sign of fatality. We see this fatalism most clearly perhaps its characteristic gesture of demonstration, prefacing many of its remarks with "Et voilà" in the original script. In presenting the tragedy, the Chorus would instruct the audience on proper spectatorship, reappearing at the tragedy's pivotal moments to comment on the action or the nature of tragedy itself. Along with playing narrator, the Chorus also attempts to intercede throughout the play, whether on the behalf of the Theban people or the horrified spectators.