Performances in the 1960s
The 1960s saw the first performance of a comedy, Menander's newly-discovered Dyskolos. Music was also used for the first time in 1962.
Greek Play performances of the 1960s (more information found below):
- Dyskolos (Menander) 1960
- Alcestis (Euripides) 1961
- Frogs (Aristophanes) 1962
- Electra (Euripides) 1963
- Trachiniae (Sophocles) 1964
- Themophoriazusae (Aristophanes) 1965
- Iphigenia in Tauris (Euripides) 1966
- Hippolytus (Euripides) 1967
- Acharnians (Aristophanes) 1968
- Alcestis (Euripides) 1969
1960: Menander - Dyskolos
1960 saw the first production of a comedy by the Classical Society, and it was not even a slightly more familiar Old Comedy by Aristophanes, but the newly discovered Dyskolos by Menander.
The Times claimed that this was the first performance of the play in England. This year also marked an increase in the run of the play every year, from three performances over two days to four performances over three days.
1961: Euripides - Alcestis
Alcestis, which was to have been the first King’s College London Greek play, was produced in 1961. After the boisterous comedy of the previous year (Dyskolos) there was a return to the solemnity of Greek tragedy. However there is much debate about whether this play, which stands in place of a satyric drama in the traditional cycle of performances at drama festivals, should be taken entirely seriously, and so we can see this choice of play as a continuation of the lighter aspect of Greek drama.
1962: Aristophanes - Frogs
In 1962, the play was Aristophanes’ Frogs, the first of many of the great comedian’s plays to be performed by King’s.
In the programme (which itself had a new design), it says that: ‘The production of Greek Old Comedy is a new venture… this is certainly a break in our tradition.’
This was the also the first production to incorporate music, which was specially composed for the play.
1963: Euripides - Electra
The Greek play was now a decade old, and was a ‘firmly established’ tradition, according to the longer and improved programme of the 1963 Euripides’ Electra.
It was with this production that the play returned to its roots in tragedy. However, the influence of the more adventurous productions of comedies was apparent, as there was also music in this play, by the same composer who had provided the music for the Frogs.
1964: Sophocles - Trachiniae
Choosing a rarely performed play of Sophocles in 1964, Trachiniae, King’s College Classical Society, which had been organising the productions to date, continued its reputation for not shrinking from challenges: not only by performing in the original language, but also by choosing obscure or difficult plays.
It can be observed that the institution of the Greek play had less to lose as the tradition continued from year to year, and so was able to take more risks. As far as we know, this paid off and the production was a success.
1965: Aristophanes - Thesmophoriazusae
The next play, the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes in 1965, proved to be a favourite amongst Greek play directors and was produced three times across the sixities, seventies and eighties.
Evidently it was popular, despite a critic of the Times who reviewed this production calling it an ‘acceptable alternative’ to the Birds or Frogs.
1966: Euripides - Iphigenia in Tauris
In a long-standing tradition such as the Greek play, it is surprising that some plays have not yet been performed, or have been on the stage only once in the past 56 years.
Iphigenia in Tauris, performed in 1966, is one such play. It is one of the odd melodramas or tragicomedies which refuses to be defined by genre. We know very little of this production, but an advert for it did appear in ‘Acta Diurna’, a Latin Journal-Bulletin.
1967: Euripides - Hippolytus
The second production of Hippolytus in 1967, fourteen years after it was produced as the first Classical Society Greek play, was performed in very different circumstances to its predecessor.
With larger programmes, better sets and costumes, more performances, the support of the departmental staff and its own bank account, the Greek play was now an undeniable feature of King’s College Classics Department, and was 'officially' here to stay.
1968: Aristophanes - Acharnians
Confirming Aristophanes’ honoured position as a dramatist and a valued feature of the King’s Greek play repertoire, the play of 1968 was the Acharnians.
With increasingly advanced technical ability and a particularly large cast, those involved in the play were well equipped to deal with more complex productions such as those demanded by Aristophanes.
1969: Euripides - Alcestis
The play in 1969 was Alcestis, a mere eight years after its first performance, which is surprising considering the difficulties posed by the play.
The programme explains it well by saying that: ‘The plot is a folk tale rather than a serious tragic myth.’In 1969 and 1970 the play left the Great Hall in the Strand Campus for the first time since 1955, and was performed in King George’s Hall on Great Russell Street.