News archive 2006
Classics stages world's only annual Greek play8 February 2006, PR13/06
The world's only annual production performed in the original Greek will be staged this week by students from the King's College Department of Classics. The Greek Play has been an uninterrupted tradition since 1954. This year's play is the comedy Ecclesiazusae (Women Take Power) by Aristophanes and there will be five performances in the Greenwood Theatre this week.
Aristophanes' comedy was first staged in or around 392 BC. The play was produced late in Aristophanes' life (he died around 386); and is the second last play of his surviving eleven.
Ecclesiazusae is a picture of woman's ascendancy in the State, and the topsy-turvy consequences resulting from such a reversal of ordinary conditions. The women of Athens, under the leadership of the wise Praxagora, resolve to reform the constitution. To this end they don men's clothes, and taking seats in the Assembly on the Pnyx, command a majority of votes to carry a series of revolutionary proposals - that the government be vested in a committee of women, and further, that property and women be henceforth held in common. The main part of the comedy deals with the improbable difficulties that inevitably arise from this new state of affairs.
‘Belief in the universal appeal of drama and its ability to break through language barriers have led student directors, past and present, to bring to the stage Greek playwrights from Aeschylus to Aristophanes,' explains Francesca Spiegel, third year Classics student and Director of this year's production.
The tradition of the King's Greek Play began with a production of Euripides' Hippolytus in 1954; the 2005 play was the Euripidean Rhesus; and productions have alternated between tragedy and comedy, as between the canonical (like Hippolytus) and the rarely staged or read (like Rhesus). Since the 1980s several productions have successfully toured overseas, notably to the USA. The King's play has been a constituent part of the London Festival of Greek Drama since the first festival in 1988.
‘As well as providing an opportunity for those involved to immerse themselves in the Greek dramatic tradition, these plays offer the audience immediate access to the original theatrical experience. Greek plays are both drama and poetry, and only a production in Greek can do their dual nature justice, but caption in English are provided,' Francesca continues, ‘and in this production the captions are an integral part of the overall design.'
The success of the Greek Play over the years can be attributed to its remarkable combination of the traditional elements of ancient drama with new and often challenging approaches and interpretations.
Professor of Greek Language and Literature, and Executive Producer, Michael Silk, comments, ‘The task of presenting plays in Greek to audiences who may have little or no Greek is demanding. It calls for much ingenuity and a large collective effort. From the first, most of the actors, directors and others involved have been current students in the Classics Department, whose long-established goal is equally to maintain an academic tradition, to reinterpret the plays, and to provide, each year, a theatrical experience of a distinctive and memorable kind.'
Performances will be staged from Wednesday 8 to Friday 10 of February 2006 at the Greenwood Theatre, 55 Weston Street, Guy's Campus SE1
Performances are scheduled as follows:
Wednesday 8 February 2006, 15.00 and 19:30
Thursday 9 February 2006 19:30
Friday 10 February 2006, 15.00 and 19:30
Tickets are £8.00 / concessions £5.00 (price includes a programme). Tickets can be bought on the door.
Further information: Greek play
King's College LondonKing's College London is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with over 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in nine schools of study. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities. The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency.
King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £348 million. In 2004 the College was once again awarded an AA- financial credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
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