Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Seth Jeppesen's class, Ancient Drama and Performance

Here's what NEH Summer Scholar Seth Jeppeson is up to this semester!

This semester at BYU I am teaching a course entitled Ancient Drama and Performance, which is based to a large extent on my experience with the NEH Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance. One thing that the institute demonstrated quite well is how important performance is to the understanding of ancient drama. Though most people would agree with this statement, it is still rare in the field of Classics to find classes that incorporate performance in the course work and assessment to a significant degree. In teaching this class, I hope to illustrate that such an approach can work. Riffing off of my experience in the institute, I came up with the following plan: with a group of Classics, Humanities and Theater students, we will read a number of plays in translation - Greek and Roman, tragedy and comedy - and then read a survey of scholarship about how these plays were performed anciently and how they have been translated, adapted, and performed in the modern world. Using the tools gained through this survey of the primary and secondary material, the students will choose scenes to perform at the end of the semester.

We will document our process along the way on our blog: http://technitaidionysou.blogspot.com/

Please feel free to look over our posts on the blog and provide comments on what you see. Thanks!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mimi Kammer to give a talk about the Institute at conference, in March

Mimi Kammer, of Simpson College in Iowa, will be giving a talk about the Institute this March:

“Performance as Research and Pedagogy:  Revising the Procedures of the National Endowment for the Humanities”

Mid-America Theatre Conference
Upcoming, March 2014

Here's the abstract:

Performance as Research and Pedagogy: 
Revising the Procedures of the National Endowment for the Humanities

            Each summer, the National Endowment for the Humanities offers a series of programs designed for scholars to engage in collaborative, intensive research and study of “ideas central to undergraduate teaching in the humanities.”[1]  The 2012 summer institute, “Roman Comedy in Performance,” attracted scholars from a range of fields, including classics, literature, religious studies, modern languages, acting, directing, and theatre history.  It was considered an unconventional experiment among NEH officials not only for its interdisciplinary nature, but also because it combined more traditional academic techniques (e,g, close readings, seminar discussions, etc.) with mandates for performance:  to be a fellow at this institute, each scholar, regardless of his/her field, would have to act.  Setting aside the more usual means of scholarly articulation such as the publishable paper, this institute culminated with professionally filmed performances of scenes from the works of Plautus and Terence, each featuring scholars as actors. 
This paper will iterate the methodologies of the Roman comedy institute, particularly those predicated on a scholarship of “doing” via embodied knowledge-experiences of performance; relate the findings of the institute, particularly if humor could—or should—be found in these plays[2]; and from a first-person point-of-view demonstrate that our success as humanities students and instructors would not have been possible if we had not utilized performance as a tool of research, scholarship and potential practical  pedagogy.

[1] “NEH Programs for School and College Educators”  (Washington:  National Endowment for the Humanities, 2012).
[2] Although Roman comedic formulas inspired much of the comedy we have today, from stock characters to common scenarios, acting in these plays is difficult.  Most include storylines of rape, slavery, and violence which seem more disturbing than comical, particularly to 21st century sensibilities.  Debate also remains over whether or not these plays were funny in their own time.  Teaching them is difficult, and public performances of Roman comedies are rare.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

9,000 views, in 97 countries!

YouTube records 9,000 views--in 97 countries!  Here is where our superstars have been seen:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Martinique, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, the U.K., the U.S.A., “Unknown Region,” Vietnam.

All U.S. states have checked in, except South Dakota!

This blog has been visited more than 3,700 times.

Remember: DVD sets are still available for sale: