Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Actors of Dionysus: 'Exploring the Classics' Project

by Megan Rogers

Actors of Dionysus (aod) was founded in 1993 to put flesh on the bones of ancient Greek drama and to provide innovative and accessible versions of this rich canon of work. Since then, we have toured over 50 radical and highly visual productions of classic Greek plays and new writing inspired by myth, performing to over 750,000 people nationally and internationally and becoming the UK’s leading interpreters in this field.
We have toured extensively throughout the UK and Eire, performing regularly at venues including York Theatre Royal, The Lowry, Theatre Royal Winchester, Brighton Dome, Greenwich Theatre and The Other Palace. We also perform at international festivals including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and High Fest, Armenia, as well as in ancient theatres in Greece, Turkey, Croatia and Albania.
aod is divided into three strands:
aodProductions tours new theatrical adaptations of ancient Greek drama and new writing inspired by classical mythology;
aodEducation tours high-quality productions and produces a rich and varied outreach programme including workshops, books, DVDs, audio-CDs, pre- and post-show lectures and discussions for schools, colleges, young people and students in higher education;
aodEvents produces ambitious and high-end one-off performances in distinctive venues with some of the UK’s leading performers.
© aod
We have been working on a campaign of free workshops for schools and colleges this year, running Classics and drama workshops in state schools and colleges in London, and targeting groups that would not usually have access to external facilities and material to support their learning.  Our fantastic Education Officers have visited a wide range of schools and colleges in the London area with our bespoke workshops, working with students on Antigone and Lysistrata and looking at the Greek chorus, conventions of Greek staging and the tragic hero. The campaign has had an amazing response, highlighting not only the demand for external practical educational support, but also the relevance of the Classics today. We strive to keep the Classics alive in education, working practically with students to re-stage them in modern, exciting ways, and this campaign has highlighted the fun that students have when working in this way:
‘We loved the new approaches to the text - this has worked really well in subsequent sessions, and students are still using them.’
Rowenna Mortimer, Working Men’s College

‘The whole workshop was wonderful! My students enjoyed it immensely and were inspired by Mark’s enthusiasm for Greek theatre. We are rarely able to have workshops because of the expense so thank you so much for giving us this opportunity.’
Izzy Forrester, Archbishop Tenison’s School

© aod 
In April, the Classical Association kindly awarded us £2,000 towards our ‘Exploring the Classics’ Workshops and Education Pack Project. This funding will allow us to roll out our free workshop project across the country next year, as well as enabling us to create a new Medea education pack which will be offered as a free learning and teaching resource. We will be able to further expand access to the study of classical Greek drama and literature, and it will enable us to reach thousands of additional students across the country with educational resources that will support, promote and advance the study of Greek theatre for years to come. We are very grateful to the Classical Association for helping to support projects which make a real difference to students who may not otherwise have access to these kinds of resources.

To enquire about booking a drama or Classics workshop for your school, college or university, contact

Megan Rogers
General Manager, Actors of Dionysus

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Autumn Books 2018

by Philip Hooker

Once again, we have studied the latest Bookseller Buyer’s Guides and picked out the books on classical themes which publishers believe will be of interest to the general reader (and added a few more).

The major highlight is Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, the Trojan War as seen by Briseis – another feminised fictional version of the ancient world to add to those covered in previous notes.  We also have Country by Michael Hughes, the Iliad transposed to Northern Ireland in 1996, which has had strong reviews, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, “a weird and wonderful revisioning of Oedipus Rex”, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and Metamorphica by Zachary Mason, a re-imagining of Ovid.    In more popular vein, there are the latest works from Robert Fabbri, Margaret George, Conn Iggulden, Douglas Jackson, Anthony Riches and Simon Scarrow.

Among childrens’ books, we note Lucy Coats with Beasts of Olympus, Stella Tarakson with Hopeless Heroes (Greek mythology) and Tim Collins with The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Gladiator (all for the 7-9s) and, for older children, Know-It-All: Greek Mythology in the National Geographic ‘Weird but True’ series, Russell Punter’s “action-packed graphic novel adaptation” of The Odyssey and Isabel and Imogen Greenberg’s Athena: The Story of a Goddess.  There are also Nick Pierce’s “Starters” books on Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, with bite-sized text, timelines, quizzes and “can you find?”

The non-fiction highlight is Guy de la Bedoyere’s Domina: The Women Who Made Imperial Rome (of the Julio-Claudian dynasty).  We also have Tony Spawforth’s The Story of Greece and Rome, David Stuttard’s Nemesis : Alcibiades and the Fall of Athens, Robin Waterfield’s Olympia: the Story of the Ancient Olympic Games, Peter Jones with Memento Mori : What the Romans Can Tell Us About Old Age and Death, Fred Naiden with Soldier, Priest and God: A Life of Alexander the Great (which explores his personal religion), Jeremiah McColl with Clan Fabius, Defenders of Rome (the history of the Fabii Maximi) and Richard Hingley with Londinium: A Biography: Roman London from its Origins to the Fifth Century.

In the category of “reception”, we note Charlotte Higgins’ Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths, which starts with the classical poets and then explores widely among later gardens, writers and artists. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones has Designs on the Past, how Hollywood Created the Ancient World from 1916-1966, lavishly illustrated. Adrienne Mayor offers Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines and Ancient Dreams of Technology and James M Russell has Plato’s Alarm Clock and Other Amazing Ancient Inventions.  Donna Zuckerberg’s Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age exposes the way in which the American “Alt-Right” cites classical texts to support their claims.

Among books for students we note Oliver Taplin’s new translation of the Oresteia, with a clutch of critical essays, Simon Pulleyn’s new edition of Homer’s Odyssey Book 1, and a set of Bloomsbury Ancient Comedy Companions - Aristophanes: Peace edited by Ian C Storey, Plautus: Casina by David Christenson, and Terence: Andria by Sander M Goldberg.   The latest Cambridge Green and Yellows include Homer: Iliad Book XVIII from Richard Rutherford and Xenophon: Anabasis Book III from Luuk Huitink and Tim Rood.  The latest Loebs include Quintus Smyrnaeus’ Posthomerica, edited by Neil Hopkinson, the final volume of their Hippocrates, edited by Paul Potter, and Vol XI of their Livy, edited by John Yardley.   There are new translations of Cicero’s De Amicitia from Philip Freeman and Epictetus’ Enchiridion (and other works) from Anthony Long. Andrew Stumpf offers Ancient Philosophy: A Companion to the Core Readings, Michael Moore has Classical Philosophy in a Nutshell and there is also the first English translation of Martin Heidegger’s 1943/4 lectures on Heraclitus.

Philip Hooker is the Hon. Treasurer of the Classical Association, and writes regularly for the CA Blog on Classics in the Media.