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Modern Examinations of Ancient Drama

Modern Methods of Examining Ancient Drama

Teaching Greek theatre in performance

Studying Greek drama forms the bedrock of many Classics courses. Dr Emmanuela Bakola’s project has championed studying works in performance, challenging centuries-old assumptions about the subject. As a result of her research, schools have changed how they teach Classics to GCSE and A-Level students. Students can now enjoy a richer understanding of ancient Greek drama.

The challenge

The study of classical Greek plays still relies on categories chosen by Aristotle, but conceptions of drama have changed over the two thousand years and dramatists have started to study the ways in which performances themselves create meaning. Dr Bakola’s work has incorporated the importance of performance and use of theatrical space into her teaching of Ancient Greek theatre.

Our approach

Through performances at Warwick Arts Centre and the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, Dr Bakola examined three main themes:

  • Interior space on stage, both seen and unseen

  • Space and character psychology

  • The role of nature and the cosmos in tragedies and comedies alike

A trailer for 2020's production, a version of Sophocles's "Oedipus Rex" set in the 1920s

Our impact

More than 4,000 people saw performances of works by Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes, many of which were teachers and students visiting the Warwick Ancient Drama Festival. After-show talks enriched the students' education further by discussing key themes and students felt like they had a much better understanding of the subject after seeing the performance. Many members of the public also came to the performances and reported new insights into both classical and modern art. Dr Bakola’s research and practice has helped new audiences discover and appreciate ancient Greek theatre.

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