Greek and Roman Plays Come to Scripps

By Sophie Fahey '17
Staff Writer

Prof. Finkelpearl, courtesy of Scripps College

Prof. Finkelpearl, courtesy of Scripps College

Thursdays this semester, Classics Professor Ellen Finkelpearl is holding a series of informal readings of classical Greek and Roman plays. This program allows any and all interested students to experience and “perform” these plays. These readings are not connected to a class, and all students are invited to attend.

This is the first semester Finkelpearl has put on these informal readings. There have been group readings of longer texts in the past—such as Homer’s “Odyssey”—but those texts take about twelve hours to read aloud. The plays being read this semester run at around an hour and a half each, generally ending around 5:30 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. These are very informal events, and no knowledge of classics is required; the plays have all been  translated into English.

Students attending the events can either read for a character or simply choose to watch. Parts are divided at the beginning, and costumes and props are handed out. Students who aren’t participating in a scene can enjoy watching the play while eating snacks from Trader Joe’s.

“These are great texts—some of them fun and some tragic, and I wanted to give people a chance to get to know them in a non-pressured, informal way. I have the feeling that many people these days assume that Classical writings (ancient Greek and Roman, that is) are stodgy and boring, but when they actually read them, they find they are surprising, alien and alive. Performance and a communal experience of the plays lets us connect at least minimally with this strange, distant past.” Finkelpearl said.

Last week’s reading was Plautus’ “The Braggart Soldier,” which, according to the program flyer, is “a well-known comedy in which a clever slave helps the young man get the girl and defeat the ridiculous, arrogant soldier.”

The next reading will be Euripides’ “Helen” on March 26 at 4:15 p.m., in Humanities Room 204. “The play follows an alternative myth in which Helen (whose beauty caused the Trojan War) did not go to Troy, but was hidden away in Egypt, and verges on being feminist in the sense that she is much smarter than all the men around her” said Finkelpearl. April plays include Terence’s “The Brothers,” Seneca’s “Phaedra,” and Euripides’ “Orestes.”

Upcoming performances:

March 26: Euripides’ “Helen”
April 2: Terence’s “The Brothers (Adelphoi)”
April 16: Seneca’s “Phaedra”
April 23: Euripides’ “Orestes”