Our Own Dionysia
Picture it: Athens, Greece, 429 B.C.E. Spring just has arrived, which means that the Dionysia is approaching quickly. The atmosphere is festive with preparations for the religious festivals and the playwriting competitions. You are signed up for the latter. You are preparing to present your interpretation of one of the final scenes of Oedipus Rex with the hopes of finally coming in first place and helping Sophocles to defeat the long-time, fan-favorite, Aeschylus.
1. Get into groups of five
a. You should form these groups around people who want to have large roles. Remember: you will need three main actors for each section.
b. The other members of your group will make up the chorus, including the role of Choragos.
2. You will be assigned to perform either Act 4 or the Exodus
a. …as well as the odes affiliated with each.
3. Assign Roles within your group
a. Suggested Roles
i. Costume Designer: No, you are not expected to come in here wearing a toga and clothing authentic for 429 B.C.E, but you should have masks appropriate for your three main characters (in keeping with traditional Greek theater).
ii. Set Designer: You should have someone decide how you are going to arrange the classroom, represent the chorus space, and represent the skene. (Remember: the skene is usually the front of a palace and it has 2-3 doors through which the actors enter. You do not need functional doors, but you should have some sort of picture of what this would look like that you can either project or draw on the white board). You also may want to use your set designer as the manager of the props that your main characters will need.
iii. Major Actors (x 3): As a major actor, you will be expected to have your lines ready. You do not need to have them memorized, but you should not be carrying around your textbook. You may want to hide copies of them skillfully inside of a prop. In the actually delivery of the lines, you should bring the drama and emotion that is inherent to them. (Sophocles should weep to see your beautiful performance.) You will want to act “big”…after all, if this performance was in an amphitheater, you would need to make sure that those of us in the cheap seats can understand your performance.
iv. Chorus: You likely will need to use your costume and set designers for this role unless you record something to use ahead of time.
b. Suggested Order of Tasks
1. Read your section alone
2. Get together and make sure that you are on the same page
3. Once on the same page, decide on a common vision for your section
4. Divide up the roles and tasks—think about your strengths and what materials you have available to you
5. Presentation day
4. Once you have prepared to present you have a couple of final tasks…
a. Write a 1-paragraph summary of your section for the class
b. Write a 1-paragraph rationale about how the choices that you made in your role fit with ancient, Greek theater. (Remember, our goal is to be as accurate as possible and to showcase what we have learned about the origins of western theater within this performance).
a. Individual Grade: Based on your contribution and how it fits with what we learned
b. Group Grade: Based on the performance and its aesthetics as a whole