Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dan Smith, Steve Earnest, and Seth Jeppesen presented at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education

Here's a guest post by Dan Smith, about the panel that he, Steve, and Seth put on at ATHE in July 2014.

A panel on the NEH Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance was presented at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on July 25, 2014.  The panelists were three participants in the NEH Institute: Steve Earnest (Coastal Carolina University), Seth Jeppesen (Brigham Young University), and Daniel Smith (Michigan State University).  The session began with an overview of NEH Summer Institutes in general, and of the Roman Comedy Institute in particular.  Dan Smith spoke about the twenty videos created by the Roman Comedy Institute and suggested several possibilities for the use of these videos as teaching tools. He detailed his own use of the four English-language Pseudolus videos for teaching applications of translation theory in a graduate seminar on Translation and Adaptation. Steve Earnest (newly returned from a trip to China!) then recounted what he took away from the NEH Institute as a teacher of acting, expressing his appreciation for the thorough grounding in Roman history and culture afforded by his participation.  Historically informed mask work was a particular focus of Steve’s presentation.  Finally, Seth Jeppesen discussed new research he has done on a possible staging of Rudens in the Forum, crediting readings and conversations from the NEH Institute with inspiring this research.  He also described a staged reading of Amphitruo that he produced as part of a class at BYU, again crediting the NEH Institute with giving him the courage to pursue this practice-based learning opportunity.  The spirit of cross-disciplinary collaboration was certainly evident, with two Theatre faculty and a Classicist sharing the work of the Roman Comedy Institute at a conference for colleagues invested in the teaching of Theatre at the college level.

Dan's handout for the panel:

Daniel Smith, “Resistance, Renewal, and the NEH Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance”
Resource Guide
NEH Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance Website:

Plautus, Pseudolus (lines 133-234)
Group A: Performed in Latin; musical underscoring
Group B: Commedia dell’arte (female Ballio); contemporary jokes
Group C: Drag King version with critical “break-out” scene
Group D: Hip-Hopera; focus on rhythm, rhyme, and meter
Group E: Commedia-inspired; “mocking slaves

Plautus, Bacchides (1116-1211)
Version 1: Sung in Latin; performed with masks
Version 2: Performed in English with masks
Version 3: Performed in English without masks

Plautus, Casina (353-423)
Version 1: Full masks designed for Roman Comedy Institute
Version 2: Full masks designed for Greek tragedy
Version 3: Half-masks, improvised in commedia dell’arte style

Plautus, Mercator (691-802)
Version 1: Performed in Latin
Version 2: Angry wife (English Version A)
Version 3: Sad wife (English version B)

Plautus, Persa (753-858)
Sung in Latin

Plautus, Truculentus (775-854)
Version 1: Sung in Latin
Version 2: Sung in English

Terence, Eunuchus (739-816)
Version 1: Performed in Latin with masks and ancient costumes
Version 2: Using 19th-Century English translation and costumes
Version 3: Sitcom

Ideas for Teaching
Pseudolus and Translation: 4 different English-language versions.
·       Theatrical Practice and Correspondence Rules: Meter, Gender, Masks
·       Linguistic Translation: Insults, Character Names, Translation of Jokes

Practice-Based Research:
·       How acting choices change a scene (Mercator English A and B)
·       Music in Roman Comedy: Persa, Truculentus, Pseudolus A, Bacchides
·       How use of masks changes performance (Casina especially)

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