Who Knew that the Classics Students were so Dramatic?

Drama and Classics

By Becky Todd

This article also appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo on Monday, 3rd December.

On Monday 13th November, an evening dedicated to exploring the portrayal of women in ancient literature was held in the Parabola Art Centre of the Ladies’ College. Organised by Classics teacher, Dr Wilkinson, the evening featured poems and plays performed by Drama and Classics students. The various extracts were in both modern English and the languages in which they were originally written: Latin and Ancient Greek.

The evening was entitled, ‘Siren, Harpy, Goddess, Girl,’ which reflects the varied views of women in ancient times. The informative narrators highlighted how a strong and intelligent woman was seen to be an idiosyncrasy in a society where women were expected to be passive and unspoken. Among the fictional characters who challenged this model were Medea, an intelligent woman who took revenge on her husband, and Antigone, who defied the law of the state out of respect and dedication to her family.

The evening featured two different, modern interpretations of the myth of Arachnae, a skilled weaver who is turned into a spider by the jealous goddess, Athena. The two interpretations contrasted vividly, making the myth both thought-provoking and relevant to a modern audience.

An extract from Euripides’ ‘Medea’ was evocatively read out by Bronnie Bernstein. Despite being in Ancient Greek, even that language barrier could not prevent the emotion and strength of the character from coming across to a modern, English-speaking audience.

The play ‘Antigone’ was performed by the Sixth Form students, who delivered a convincing modern interpretation. The use of mobile phones and the setting of a television news-broadcast delivered the play in light that the audience could understand, whilst still maintaining Sophocles’ exploration of the issue of state versus individual rights. A terrifying performance by Naomi Morris Omori of King Creon as an evil dictator was particularly memorable. Set in the Middle East, the play still managed to have relevance to today’s international politics.

The evening was not solely dedicated to tragedy, however, and the final performance of Aristophanes’ ‘The Assembly of Women’ had the audience laughing out loud over fake-beards and intentionally terrible public speaking.

The evening was a memorable and enjoyable event. It was wonderful to experience how literature written so many years ago can still resonate in today’s audience, evoking emotions, laughter, and reflection, millennia after the original writers have passed away.

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One Response to Who Knew that the Classics Students were so Dramatic?

  1. xplainmk says:

    Well done for challenging female stereotypes that still persist today. What do you think of the idea of the all-female ‘Julius Caesar’ currently playing in London? Which other classical plays can you imagine with an all female cast?

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