Unique production provides audience members with a realistic ancient drama experience
10/1/2012 4:07:25 PM
Randolph College is once again offering the Lynchburg community the opportunity to experience an authentic Greek play Oct. 5-7 at 4 p.m. in the Dell, the school’s Greek theatre.
Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes, one of the two earliest extant tragedies, was first performed in Athens in the 467 bce. The play shows the ramp-up to a war and its consequences on a nation and a family.
“The Greek Play provides direct contact with the ancient world, an immediate experience of literature, and vibrant evidence of the ongoing power of drama,” said Amy R. Cohen, a Randolph classics professor, director of the play, and director of Randolph’s new Center for Ancient Drama.
In addition to the regular performances, Randolph will host two special events for local schoolchildren Oct. 3-4 at 10 a.m. Interest in these performances has grown tremendously over the past few years, creating the need for two sessions. Teachers are provided with study guides with information about how the performance meets Virginia Standards of Learning as well as information and resources on Greek drama.
“This type of enriching experience brings Greek drama to life for students,” Cohen said. “Being able to see and hear and feel a Greek play in a setting similar to that used in ancient theatre adds tremendously to classroom instruction.
Randolph’s Greek Play is a longstanding tradition at the college, dating back to 1909 when Mabel K. Whiteside, professor of Greek, directed the first performance of Euripides' Alcestis in Greek. She led her students in an annual production of a Greek play from then until her retirement in 1954. Although there were a few interruptions in the annual schedule, the school saw 40 Greek plays in 45 years, including her last production, Aeschylus's trilogy The Oresteia. This was the first time the trilogy had been staged as a whole in Greek in the new world. The Dell was built to honor Whiteside and her unparalleled series of productions.
Cohen and her students revived the tradition with the production of Sophocles' Antigone in 2000, and Seven Against Thebes is their eighth production on Randolph’s campus. Cohen also produced the centennial Alcestis in Greece in 2009.
The Randolph College Greek Play adheres to most of the original conventions that governed theatre in the time of the great tragedians, believing that the best plays will emerge from the conditions for which they were written. The plays are performed in an outdoor Greek theatre, which allows the plays to be performed in daylight for an audience seated in a semi-circle around the performers.
The Randolph College Greek Play also adheres to other ancient conventions, including the use of masks. “Our goal is to present ancient drama under ancient conventions on a regular basis,” Cohen said. “In doing so, we hope not only to entertain the Randolph College and Lynchburg communities, but also to educate our audiences and friends about the history of theatre.”
CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations