Study of classics experiencing surge in popularity
10/6/2004 10:25:01 AM
If you&rsquove never seen a classical Greek play&mdashespecially one staged in an outdoor Greek amphitheater&mdashyou&rsquoll soon get your chance. The Bacchae, which deals with the extremes of religion, will be performed on October 8, 9, and 10 on the campus of Randolph-Macon Woman&rsquos College in Lynchburg.
What makes this production special? For starters, the actors will all be female college students, and they will wear masks in the Greek tradition. Following ancient Greek convention, a chorus will also remain on stage during most of the play&mdashand it will sing and dance to original music.
And then there&rsquos the play itself. In The Bacchae, Euripides shows the young god of wine Dionysus inflicting tragedy upon Thebes when its king refuses to recognize his divinity. The conflict prompts women of the city who worship Dionysus to take to a wild life in the mountains, where they engage in Dionysian rites associated with freedom and joy, such as ecstatic mountain dancing.
The Bacchae is being staged at a time when the study of the classics is experiencing a surge of popularity at those colleges who offer it. Latin and Greek language and civilization courses are all the rage&mdashand in some cases even have waiting lists. (This was recently the case for an 8 A.M. Latin class at R-MWC.)
A fervor for the classics is even more pronounced at R-MWC due to the college&rsquos Greek play tradition. More than 40 Greek tragedies and comedies were performed on campus from 1909 to 1954, at a time when a full 10 percent of the student body took ancient Greek language courses. The college also has an outdoor Greek amphitheater whose dimensions are virtually identical to those of the ancient amphitheaters. With the recent revival of the tradition, a Greek play will be performed at R-MWC every other year in October.
&ldquoThe women who&rsquove participated in the Greek plays have really devoted themselves to it and loved it,&rdquo says Amy R. Cohen, assistant professor of classics who is directing The Bacchae. Cohen&rsquos mission is to educate both young and old about the great works of ancient drama.
The Bacchae will be performed on October 8, 9, and 10 at 3 P.M. in The Mabel K. Whiteside Amphitheatre on the campus of Randolph-Macon Woman&rsquos College in Lynchburg. Admission is free. For further information, call 434-947-8142 or go to www.rmwc.edu/greekplay.
CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of Communications