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CC 222 : Stagings
Introduction Troupes Guidelines Resources Schedule

One of the goals of CC 222 is to compare and contrast the sensibilities, as demonstrated in Greek tragedy, of ancient and modern audiences.

To understand these sensibilities students must approach the plays from the inside out, becoming not only readers but also interpreters of tragedy.




The class will be broken up into troupes of four or five students.  Each troupe will offer two stagings over the course of the semester.  A staging will consist of an in-class performance / Powerpoint presentation (or similar software) of one sequence from the tragedy we are currently reading. "Sequence" here means a run of lines from somewhere in the play, enough to support a performance of five to seven minutes. A sequence might come from within an episode or a choral ode, or it might bridge an episode and ode. The choice is yours.

Troupe Alpha: Ambrose, Benabid, Bernstein, Cox, Dunkley [email this troupe]

Troupe Beta: Fairchild, Gross, Halpin, Hearne, Kaye, Kiernan [email this troupe]

Troupe Gamma: Landau, Lee, McNeill, Rinskaya, Schwartz, Ziomek [email this troupe]


Prior to its scheduled staging — perhaps a week in advance — each troupe should meet to decide which sequence to perform.  Choose a sequence that best reflects the themes of the play in question.  Next, decide how those themes can be highlighted through a recreation of the scene within the context of the ancient Athenian theater.

Ultimately, each troupe will make a Powerpoint presentation that depicts the positions of the characters and Chorus at key junctures in the sequence while the text is read aloud. That is, the presentation should function as an animatic that depicts the blocking of the scene during the reading.

Some technical specifications and considerations:

  • All troupes should use a reconstruction of the Theater of Dionysus as the background.  The skene building should be rendered appropriately for the play.

  • The performers — characters, Chorus, extras — can be rendered with images from the web, or troupes can render their own.  This is a chance for the artists among you to shine. Avoid using simple icons for the characters, which project no useful body language. If you label your characters, use full names.

  • The action on the stage must be rendered from a distance — that is, the skene, orchestra, and eisodoi should always be visible, as if the vantage point were that of a spectator sitting mid-way up the slope.  Avoid close-ups.

  • The movements of the characters — both spatial and bodily — should be clear as the scene progresses, with each slide on your presentation depicting a new movement.  Movements may be large or small (e.g., striding across the orchestra, sinking into a kneeling position, gesturing with the arm), but should generally reflect moment-to-moment (NOT second-by-second) action.

  • Remember, the troupe will accompany the presentation by reading from the text of the sequence.  Note that no one is beholden to the text (or the stage directions) of the Chicago translations: a troupe may adopt another translation.

  • The entire presentation, both the graphical and the audible, should be well considered and well rehearsed.  Although it might be tempting to place less emphasis on the reading, you will find that this entire exercise makes the playwrights' words that much more important.

  • The final slide of your presentation must offer image credits (if you used images from the web) and indicate any external resources you used when creating your staging.

For your consideration while planning the presentation:

  • What are the themes of the play at large? How does your scene reflect those themes?

  • What does the text (not the stage directions, which are the invention of the translator) tell you about where the characters are, and what they are doing?

  • How do the movements of the characters convey how they want to be perceived, both by the audience and by other characters?

  • Once the chorus has taken the stage, remember that (except in rare circumstances) it never leaves.

Hopefully your staging will open the door to some lively classroom discussion.  At very least, your troupe should be prepared to describe the rationale behind the choice of scene and its staging.



Reconstructions of the Theater of Dionysus (via the Study Area at Didaskalia).


Staging Classical Tragedy (1982), a streaming documentary in which noted scholar Richard Beacham discusses space in the Theater of Dionysus; the reconstructions of stage action in the Oresteia trilogy are good (though broad) examples of the presentations troupes should create.


Padel, R. 1990. "Making Space Speak."  In J. J. Winkler and F. I. Zeitlin, ed. Nothing to Do with Dionysos? Princeton University Press. A good discussion of how space works in the ancient theater, and how scenographic paintings enhanced the skene.

Rehm, R. 2002. The Play of Space. Spatial Transformation in Greek Tragedy. Princeton University Press. "Chapter Four: Space and the Body." A useful discussion of how the Greeks conceived their bodies in relation to others', and the implications for tragedy.


02.05.18   Alpha: Bacchae

02.12.18   Beta: Hippolytus

02.19.18   Gamma: Heracles

02.26.18   Alpha: Women of Trachis

03.05.18   Beta: Oedipus

03.21.18   Gamma: Antigone

© 2018 Skidmore College Classics Department