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Performances in the 1950s

King's College London's Greek Play was performed for the first time in 1953. Since then there has been a production every year, with only two exceptions (1954 and 1979).


Greek Play performances of the 1950s (more information found below):

  • Hippolytus  (Euripides) 1953 
  • Medea  (Euripides) 1955
  • Electra  (Sophocles) 1956
  • Orestes  (Euripides) 1957
  • Ajax  (Sophocles) 1958
  • HerculesFurens  (Euripides) 1959
1953 Greek Play cast list1953 Greek Play programme cover
1953: Euripides - Hippolytus 

From early 1952, students in the Classics Department wanted to put on a Greek play. Until May 1953 the play of choice was Alcestis, but it was changed to Hippolytus, as more people had studied the latter. 

Produced entirely by students and with little involvement from staff, the play was hailed as a great success although it was seen by comparatively few people.

The Principal of the College arranged for the debts incurred by the play, amounting to around £30, to be paid for by the College.

1955 Greek Play programme cover1955: Euripides - Medea1955 Greek Play cast list

Buoyed by the success of the first production, the Classical Society decided upon Medea as the next play. It was delayed until late February 1955 so as to make full use of the new first year students who had arrived at King's College London the previous October.

The play was performed in the Great Hall of the College in the King's Building, which can be seen as the College’s acceptance that the play was a worthy cause to support.

The Strand Campus' Great Hall would remain the play’s home until 1969. 

1956 Greek Play cast list1956 Greek Play programme cover1956: Sophocles - Electra

The 1956 production of Sophocles’ Electra has been seen as the point which confirmed the Greek play’s status as an important annual tradition.

The Times, which had reviewed the last two plays, was not as favourable about this production as it had been in the past, but despite this the play was considered a great success.

A King’s publication gives a lovely account of the production, describing the rehearsal process and a performance of the play. This is available in the physical archive housed in the department. 

1957 Greek Play programme cover1957: Euripides - Orestes1957 Greek Play cast list

Now in its fourth year, the play went from strength to strength with a production of Orestes, which earned another favourable review from The Times, and an article in the King’s Publication, the Sennet (sic).

According to the Classical Society minutes book, a group including the College Principal and his wife, the Dean of the Faculty and the Chaplain enjoyed the production, along with many staff and students of the Department. 



1958 Greek Play programme cover1958: Sophocles - Ajax1958 Greek Play cast list

In November 1957 there was much debate as to whether the play should expand into a Latin repertoire as well as Greek. The Classical Society constitution was revised and it was decided that the play should remain in Greek.

Ajax was chosen as the next production. In January 1958, the first bank account for the Greek play was set up, with £30 profit from the previous production.

This production was also the first to use a child actor, in the role of Eurysaces.

1959 Greek Play programme cover1959: Euripides - Hercules Furens1959 Greek Play cast list

A mere five days after the Ajax production, the society again voted on the matter of whether the next play should be in Latin, and again it was decided that the tradition of only Greek plays should be continued.

Hercules Furens was decided upon, apparently mainly due to the necessity of a male chorus because of the large number of men in the first year. The production was reviewed with great detail and praise in The Times.