Karst Woudstra and Hercules, the immortal father


  • Corrado Cuccoro Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, sede di Milano


Karst Woudstra, Sophocles, Women of Trachis, Dutch theater, Hercules Oetaeus


As a contemporary retelling of the myth of Hercules’ death, the impressive play De dood van Heracles (1996, 2003) by the Dutch writer and director Karst Woudstra (Leida, 1947) has not yet been critically studied. This paper provides a first comprehensive examination of the play, with special regard to ancient sources. Through a metatheatrical device, both action and meaning are articulated at three interdependent levels: the timeless, traditional fabula Herculea; the theatrical creativity of IJsbrand Tamminga, an author’s avatar who, by reworking a Greek and Roman myth, tries to deal with his internal conflicts and finally, with the crucial contribution of Mauro ~ Philoctetes, ricovers the repressed memory of having been abused by his father (Heracles), as a child; and lastly, the past and the present of all the characters: a level managed directly by the extradiegetic author.