Performances in the 1970s
Early in the 1970s, the Greek Play settled in the New Theatre in the Strand Campus, which would be its home until 2001.
Greek Play performances of the 1970s (more information found below):
- Peace (Aristophanes) 1970
- Frogs (Aristophanes) 1971
- Antigone (Sophocles) 1972
- Andromache (Euripides) 1973
- Thesmophoriazusae (Aristophanes) 1974
- Hippolytus (Euripides) 1975
- Medea (Euripides) 1976
- Clouds (Aristophanes) 1977
- Oedipus Tyrannus (Sophocles) 1978
1970: Aristophanes - Peace
The beginning of a new decade brought a new look for the Greek play, with the most ornate programme cover to date and a new play for the College, never performed before or since: Aristophanes’ Peace.
A feature of the plays throughout the 1960s is that although the casts increase in size, the production team remains relatively small, and this is true of the 1970 play as well.
1971: Aristophanes - Frogs
In 1971 the Classical Society put on its second production of Aristophanes’ Frogs at the Golden Lane Theatre in EC1.
The increased technical capabilities of the Greek play was marked at this time by a growing production team, including roles such as ‘Assistant to the Producer’ and ‘Choreography’.
It is interesting to note that this play was the second consecutive comedy, which has only happened twice since, with the Wasps and the Birds in 1981 and 1982 respectively, and Wasps and Clouds in 2014 and 2015.
1972: Sophocles - Antigone
The 1972 Antigone saw several major changes in production of the Greek play.
First, it settled in the New Theatre in the Strand Campus of King’s College, where it stayed until 2001 (the play of that year was also Antigone, coincidentally).
Secondly, yet another performance was added so that there were now five performances over four days. The title ‘Director’ was also applied for the first time to the role previously called ‘Producer’. Lastly, in 1972, ’73 and ’74 there were experiments with abstract and exciting A4 programmes, which were however quite difficult to read and abandoned.
1973: Euripides - Andromache
Andromache was the play of choice for 1973. We know very little about this play, or the production. The programmes of the time suggest that it was no longer necessary to stage the Greek plays very literally, with great attention to historical accuracy, and that new artistic ideas were being experimented with.
However, we have no genuine evidence that this was the case....
1974: Aristophanes - Thesmophoriazusae
The second production of Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae looks like a wonderfully fun time was had by all, judging by the review in ‘Acta Diurna’ and the few pictures that have survived down the years.
It is true that the Greek play has always been affected by social changes, and this production was significantly 'freer' than previous Greek Plays.
1975: Euripides - Hippolytus
In 1975 it was again the turn of Hippolytus, its third appearance as the Classical Society’s Greek play. Although the programme had returned to its usual smaller size, the Picasso drawing on the cover and the dark poster indicated that the drama and potential horror of the play would be fully exploited.
1976: Euripides - Medea
The second production of Medea took place in 1976. In the programme, there is mention of schools questionnaires which had been filled out. From this we can see that the Classics Department and Classical Society were taking an active interest in the audiences who saw the Greek play.
Their views and responses were influencing the choices of plays and staging made by those producing each play.
1977: Aristophanes - Clouds
In 1977 the mood was lightened after two tragedies, and audiences enjoyed another Aristophanic comedy, the Clouds.
For the first and last time, the synopsis in the programme is portrayed in fun cartoons, and the serious posters printed by the Classical Society are bordered with cloud-like billows. The costumes were also extraordinary, ranging from silk jockey outfits to the colourful tasselled bodysuits of the chorus, complete with garters.
1978: Sophocles - Oedipus Tyrannus
Surprisingly, Oedipus Tyrannus was produced for the first time only in 1978, but it proved to be a great favourite, reappearing twice in the 90s and again in 2008.
This particular production made much use of the original Greek in the programme, but an extract from one of Tom Lehrer’s satirical songs showed the enduring and modern nature of the myth.