Greek Play is a 'tremendous production'
The 2012 Greek Play, Euripides' Hecuba, acted and directed by King’s students, was performed Wednesday 8 – Friday 10 February at the King’s Greenwood Theatre.
The Department of Classics puts on an annual ancient Greek Play which is performed in the original language and has been a tradition since 1953. Roseanna Long, BA Classical Studies with Film student and 2012 play director, commented: ‘This year we staged Euripides’ Hecuba which is about the aftermath of the Trojan War. Hecuba, Queen of Troy has been taken as a slave by the Greeks, her city has fallen, her husband killed and only a few of her 50 children survived. The play depicts Hecuba’s grief over the sacrifice of her daughter Polyxena and the revenge she takes over her murdered son, Polydorus.’
The play was performed in conjunction with the University of London Festival of Greek Drama – a celebration held at King’s and UCL, to help expose the Greek Play tradition to a wider audience across the capital.
Roseanna explained: ‘I had read Hecuba before but never performed it. I was enthralled by it from the very opening scene with Polydorus’ ghost. It really is one of the most haunting tragedies by Euripides– but it is certainly a tough genre to direct!
‘During the final weeks, the show came together to create an exciting theatrical experience which I am proud to have directed. The crew did a brilliant job creating the set and the costumes were carefully designed to be as authentic as possible. Having the privilege of directing the Greek play has been one of my best drama experiences to date.’
Hecuba is the first theatrical play Roseanna has directed, although previous backstage roles and personally directing two short films helped her gain confidence in the role of director. ‘The experience was exhausting but very rewarding,’ she said. ‘The difficulty of the play was not only making it accessible for a modern audience but for the cast themselves.
‘Although Greek plays seem to be heightened dramas, far from today’s realities, the predicaments of the characters can still have resonance today. For example, in Hecuba the themes of revenge and justice are prevalent throughout: Hecuba takes revenge for her suffering and the play questions to what extent her actions are justified.’
Another difficulty for the cast was to learn lines in a foreign language. Roseanna added: ‘Ancient Greek is always a challenge for the cast as most are not fluent in the language, even the Greek students struggled. Like all line learning it just takes time and plenty of rehearsal. In the run up to the show the cast were comfortable with their lines, the rhythm and pronunciation.’
The performance was well attended and received critical acclaim. Roseanna commented: ‘The feedback from the audience was great; we have had many congratulations from satisfied audience members. Even a group of alumni from the very first production of Euripides’ Hippolytus came to support the show!’
Cathy Merger from the Open University stated in her review: ‘This was once again a tremendous production in the very best tradition of King’s Greek plays in the original Greek. The audience sat rapt throughout the passionate tragedy as it unfolded in its ghastly inevitability which, nevertheless, still managed to surprise.’