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CC 222 : Semester project
Introduction Duties Requirements Progress reports Suggestions Milestones

A tragedy in the making....

In the CC 222 semester project students will work together to write and produce an original Greek tragedy in English — that is, to compose and perform a play with the format and subject matter of the plays studied this term.


The project affords students the opportunity to apply their insights into tragedy, developed over a semester of reading primary and secondary sources, as well as working with masks and presenting stagings of tragic scenes.

The successful project will be more or less indistinguishable from one of the translated plays on the CC 222 reading list.  The audience should accept that it is a work of fifth-century Athens that has survived to the present day. At the same time, the play must justify its survival, resonating with modern sensibilities and concerns. This is the difference between a museum piece and a classic.

Constraints of time and resources may make it impossible to mount a full-scale theatrical production. You should therefore aim for to produce a drama about 1,000 verses long (or a running time of about an hour).

As this project is a group effort, everyone should conscientiously observe requirements and deadlines. Workloads should be as even as possible, and each student must pull his or her own weight. It is assumed that students will meet regularly outside of class to complete the project. This is an ambitious assignment, to be sure, but it is possible to achieve within a single semester. 

A NOTE ON GRADING:  Professor Curley will assign a blanket grade to the project after the performance (e.g., a wobbly preparatory phase but a superb performance might garner a B+ overall). Students will then reflect on their contributions and, using the blanket grade as a baseline for their individual grade, recommend to Prof. Curley what percentage of the blanket grade they should receive individually.

EXAMPLES.  A student who has performed all of his or her duties might feel entitled to 100% of a B+ blanket grade, which would garner an individual grade of B+. A student who admits to not working as hard as others might deem that 80% of a B+, or a B-, is appropriate. A student who has worked far and above the average standard, perhaps to compensate for other under-performing students, might claim that 120% of a B+, or an A, is appropriate.

Whatever the case, Prof. Curley will review students' recommendations carefully when assigning individual grades, reserving the right to raise or lower a recommended percentage.


Each member of the class will be assigned a duty (or, if the work is small, duties) to undertake as the project moves forward. Here is a preliminary roster of duties and the responsibilities involved; others may suggest themselves as the project proceeds.

Writers (4)

Writers initially choose the myth and write the script to be used in the performance. Over the course of the semester they update and maintain the script and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Writers will have both a superb grasp of grammar and syntax and an ear for the stage. Since the story will be set in the world of Greek myth, the writers should also have some familiarity with the legends and stories of ancient Greece (or should be willing to make themselves familiar).

Note that writing cannot happen without research. The primary and secondary sources assigned in CC 222, as well as the discussions and other course activities, will provide background for the project; yet further reading is not only inevitable, but also encouraged. The broader and deeper the research, the broader and deeper the final play; a shallow and narrow play, in turn, is the result of shallow and narrow research. Professor Curley will be happy to recommend appropriate reference works and readings.

The Writers will compose the script as a group or as individuals. If the latter, someone will need to step up and bring the script into overall coherence. The script should be started and finished as a series of Google Documents; from there it can be ported into whatever format works best for printing and emailing. Professor Curley will comment directly on the various drafts in Google Documents.

Enter the CC 222 Google Documents folder

Actors (4)

Actors perform the primary speaking (i.e. non-choral) roles of the play. We often speak of the "three-actor rule" in ancient drama, which was really only a convention and meant that all of the principal roles (excluding the Chorus and extras) could be played by three actors. In your production, the three-actor rule may be "bent" to accommodate one or two additional actors (though the script should be written for three actors).

Actors should have some stage experience (or at least talent), should be articulate, and should be willing to memorize the script.  Cross-gender casting is encouraged. Note that all members of the class must appear onstage in some capacity, but the principal speaking roles should be reserved for the Actors. Actors may alter the script here and there, provided that any alterations are communicated to the Writers.

The primary work of the Actors will begin once the final draft is delivered by the Writers. However, Actors should read each draft of the script and send comments to the Writers. They should also familiarize themselves with the characters in question, and should meet to cultivate a style of performance suitable to both ancient material and modern audiences.

Chorus (5)

The Chorus is the heart-and-soul of the production, commenting on the drama as it occurs through speech and especially song and dance. Its moments of singing and dancing (choral odes or stasima) shapes the audience's perception of the play as much as the performances of the actors do.

Members of the chorus will have a talent for singing, dancing (and perhaps playing an instrument, a concession to modern times). A very important member of the Chorus is the Chorus Leader, who answers for the Chorus during spoken episodes, and who in your production might choreograph the choral odes.

The primary work of the Chorus will begin once the script rough draft is delivered by the writers. However, Chorus members should familiarize themselves with the myth in question, which will be known in advance, and should meet to cultivate a style of performance suitable to both ancient material and modern audiences.

Although the Writers will initially script the odes, the Chorus should feel free to change them to suit the nature of the song and the dance — provided that the changes are communicated back to the Writers.

Production Designers (4)

Production Designers create the visual and perhaps musical aspects of the play: costumes, masks (if applicable), sets, and props. They also secure and prepare a venue, publicize the event, and assist the actors in performance.

The ideal Designers will have some experience or acumen in the visual or performing arts and the drive to put ideas into action and get things done. Being on a limited budget, they will also understand the virtue of simplicity.

Much of the design work will be done toward the end of the semester. Nevertheless, conceptual work on the production should begin as early as possible.


Writers, Actors, Chorus, and Designers constitute four discrete teams. It is assumed that the teams will meet regularly outside of class throughout the semester to assess the tasks that need to be done, and to do them. At the same time, teams are also responsible for communicating with other teams as appropriate.

Should there be a director? That's a question open to discussion, but past experience suggests that the answer should be "no."  Unlike a professional or semi-professional theatrical production, the CC 222 project benefits from open collaboration among all students, and a director (even one chosen from their ranks) tends to be exposed to undue criticism and hostility.  As noted, however, the question is open to discussion.

Professor Curley's role is to assist students in finding their tasks, to monitor students' progress, offer advice and consultation, and (ultimately) to assign a grade to the completed projects. He will, as a last resort, moderate disputes. Although he believes firmly in student autonomy, he must nonetheless offer feedback on the projects from time to time, usually in the form of questions, recommendations, and the odd bit of praise.  He will push, and will encourage the students to push back.


The following requirements must be observed over the course of the semester:

  • The subject of the tragedy must be Greek and mythical. That said, the subject and its presentation should transcend the ancient world and reach a modern audience.
  • The finished script must be about 1,000 lines long — a combination of free and choral verse.
  • The script must be written for, though not necessarily performed by, three actors. All speaking roles (excluding the Chorus, the Chorus Leader, and non-speaking extras) must be parceled out among the hypothetical three.
  • All students must appear onstage in some capacity during the performance.
  • All students must complete the mandatory weekly progress reports (see below).
Progress reports

Five weekly progress reports are due between March 24 and April 21 — specific due dates given below. The reports should be emailed to the entire class (cc222-list@skidmore.edu), not just to Professor Curley.

Each report should describe the following:

  • The tasks that you and your team agreed to do that week, and which tasks you were responsible for.
  • The work done toward completing your tasks. Tell us what you did, watched, read, wrote, composed, acted, sang, danced, drew or made.  Provide supporting evidence, including images, as appropriate. If you didn't complete all your tasks, tell us why and what still needs to be done.
  • Which tasks you are responsible for next week, and how you plan to complete them.
  • Any questions or concerns you have about the project thus far.

The purpose of the reports is twofold.  First, students keep track of their work by noting their progress on a regular basis.  At the end of the semester, each student will be able to look back on their efforts, hopefully with satisfaction.  Second, the reports allow Prof. Curley to evaluate students' progress, offer feedback, and assess their work.

Reports should be thoughtful and well written. If your report looks hasty or scattered, it will be difficult to take your claims seriously.

Students must complete all reports.  Each missing report will result in your project grade being lowered by a fraction (e.g., B+ to B with one missing report, B+ to B- with two missing reports, and so on).


Here are some suggestions for you to bear in mind as the project unfolds.  Most of them involve courtesy toward your peers and common sense.

Think classically.

The tragic stage saw many of Greek myth's greatest heroes and heroines come to life. Don't shy away from engaging a famous myth — in fact, putting a new spin on a well-known story is how this game is played. That said, do not distort a myth beyond all recognition.  Innovation involves repetition, and vice versa.

Think simply.

You and the rest of the class will be working under many constraints, especially that of time. It may not be possible to present a full-fledged, professional production, so rather than augment you may have to compress. Simple thinking may also be a good philosophy when it comes to production values as well.

Think ahead.

Every detail of the production that can be scheduled should be. Every member of the group should always know what his or her responsibilities are, and when they must be completed.  A modest up-front time investment will pay off in the long run.

Think kindly.

Finally, be decent to your peers. In a group environment the actions of an individual resonate far beyond the self.  Being responsible and open to compromise ensure the success of the project more than any other actions.


Several milestones will help keep the project on track.  Note that many (but not all) are due Saturday nights by 11:00 p.m.

Overview (Wednesday, January 31, in class)

An in-class review of the project web page, and an opportunity for students to ask questions.

Qualifications (Saturday, February 3, 11:00 p.m., email Prof. Curley)

Read the Project page through in its entirety, especially the various descriptions of the duties involved with the project. Send an email to Professor Curley, in which you the four duties in order of preference and describe your qualifications for your top two choices. Every effort will be made to accommodate your request.

Group meeting 1 (Wedesday, February 7, in class)

An opportunity for students to consider which Greek myth to dramatize, to decide the date of the performance, and to learn to which duties they have been assigned. Bring your myth ideas and planners to this meeting.

Myth option (Saturday, February 17, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

Email the class with a Greek myth that you would like to see dramatized. In 6-10 sentences, indicate the characters and the situation, and why you think the myth would make for good tragedy. Prof. Curley will compile the list and distribute it before the next project meeting.

Group meeting 2 (Wednesday, February 21, in class)

An opportunity for students to select which myth will be dramatized and to shape the general outline of the myth. Bring the compiled list of options with you.

Outline (Saturday, February 24, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

The Writers should email the class with a detailed outline of the tragedy that follows the classic tragic structure (prologue, parodos, episodes, stasima, epilogue, and exodos). It must be clear from this outline what happens, who is involved, when they enter, and when they exit. The themes of the stasima, or choral odes, should also be stated. A list of characters (dramatis personae) would be helpful as well.

Prof. Curley will comment on the outline; if need be, he will request an updated version from the Writers, due in one week's time.

Draft 1 and Progress report 1 (Saturday, March 24, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

The Writers should email the class with a rough but functional version of the play.  Matters of plot and character should now be mostly settled.  A few gaps in speeches or songs are acceptable, provided that there are summaries of what is missing. Prof. Curley will read the draft and issue comments within 24 hours.

In addition, every student should email the class their first progress report.

Group meeting 3 (Wednesday, March 28, in class)

An opportunity for students to collaborate on any outstanding issues.

Draft 2 and Progress report 2 (Saturday, March 31, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

The Writers should email the class with a more polished version of the play with no gaps. Prof. Curley will read the script and issue comments within 24 hours.

In addition, every student should email the class their second progress report.

Draft 3 and Progress report 3 (Saturday, April 7, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

The writers should email the class with a polished-to-perfection version of the play, the fullest possible realization of the class's initial vision. This version should take into account all of the feedback received from instructor and peers alike. It should also be formatted like a professional script. Barring no major problems, this is the draft that will be released to the rest of the class.

In addition, each student should email the class their third progress report.

Progress report 4 (Saturday, April 14, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

Each student should email the class their fourth progress report.

Progress report 5 (Saturday, April 21, 11:00 p.m., email the class)

Each student should email the class their final progress report.

Group meeting 4 (Monday, April 23, in class)

An opportunity for students to collaborate on any outstanding issues.

Group meeting 5 (Wednesday, April 25, in class)

An opportunity for students to collaborate on any outstanding issues.

Formal presentation (Sunday, April 29, 8:00 p.m.)

A one-off public performance of the CC 222 semester project. Students will have decided the time and the venue, and will have invited as many friends and faculty as possible. This is where it all comes together.

Final reflections (Thursday, May 10, noon)

Offer some final reflections on the project and suggest a final grade for yourself. Your reflections are due by noon, the end of our scheduled final exam. NOTE: Your reflections will be sent to the entire class.

See the Reflections page for the link to the final reflections form.

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