Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guest post by Sophie Klein: Plautus' Mostellaria at Boston University

                    Plautus’s Mostellaria (The Haunted House)

This past spring (2014), the Boston University Department of Classical Studies and the Core Curriculum staged a reading of Plautus’ Mostellaria (The Haunted House). The play was produced in conjunction with my Roman Comedy course (CL 229). The talented students in this class were each assigned a section of the script and asked to transpose the original plot and characters, update arcane jokes and idioms, and recreate some of the “verbal fireworks” of Plautus’ Latin for a modern, English-speaking audience, taking into account the cultural, practical, and theoretical concepts and contexts they had been studying all semester. By workshopping the individual scenes in class and seeing them performed at the event itself, the students were able to explore and experiment with the material in a dynamic, hands-on, and collaborative way.

The cast comprised undergraduates, graduate students, and members of our distinguished faculty, clad in togas, tutus, beanies, bowties, and a variety of other colorful costumes. The event brought together members of the larger classics community for a memorable evening of music, pizza, and comedy.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

12,000 views, in 105 countries!

Two years after we went on-line, our videos have been seen 12,000 times, in 105 countries:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, 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, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYROM), Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Martinique, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reúnion, 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.

49 US States +  D.C. and “unknown region, US” (with 25 views).  Still no views in South Dakota....

International viewership continues to climb, and accounts for 55% of the views in the last 90 days.

This blog has been visited 5,900 times.

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: http://nehsummer2012romancomedy.web.unc.edu/

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)

Nancy Sultan's comedy/tragedy masks

This is a guest post by Nancy Sultan of Illinois Wesleyan University.  (Note: Nancy will be giving a presentation on the IWU Megalensia at CAAS in October, so our NEH Institute will be publicized again.)

Nancy Sultan, director of Greek and Roman Studies at Illinois Wesleyan University, regularly stages readings and scenes from Greek and Roman plays in her classes. Curtis Trout, professor of scenic design in the IWU School of Theatre Arts, regularly teaches courses in Properties for the Stage and Scene Painting.  These two collaborate frequently, with amazing results. Together they have staged two full productions of Greek plays (Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Euripides' Trojan Women) and have established a permanent collection of props, masks, and backdrops for the performance of Greek and Roman plays.

The latest collaboration has resulted in a full set of masks for Greek tragedy and Roman comedy. Curtis worked with Nancy to design the masks based on historical sources—vase paintings, frescoes, and manuscript illuminations. Using stiff, yet light, cardboard, Curtis created a template for the structure of the masks that students in his "properties for the theatre" class executed. Students painted each mask with individualized details for each stock character. Inside the Greek tragedy masks Curtis inserted an adjustable baseball cap for wearing comfort. The Roman comedy masks are smaller, and are held in place comfortably with ribbon. The masks belong to Greek and Roman Studies, but can be rented on request.

Here are some photos: