Coming in 1994
Sydney Classical Society
The Sydney University Classical Society produces a Greek or Roman play every year as one of its main functions. The planned annual production for 1994 is Aristophanes' Frogs, which we plan to treat entirely differently. It has always seemed to be a play which can appeal very strongly to a modern audience, especially an Australian audience, because of its almost anarchic humour, which is, in fact highly political and highly structured. For this reason we want to turn away as much as possible from the cockney (or Scottish) slave/English upper class Oxford type master relationship, and would like instead to emphasise the subtle relationships between the personalities. We will use the Penguin translation only as a very broad base (much of it will in fact be re-translated), probably introduce some modern political humour without eradicating all of the classical jokes, and the choral odes will be retranslated. We plan to stage it in a mixture of Ancient and Modern style. Dionysus and Xanthias start their travels in classical Greece, and progress along their journey to Hades. They discover that Hell is in the 1970's, with the chorus of Frogs as disco groovers (albeit green ones) and with the competition scene held in a demonic nightclub called 'Pluto's Palace', hosted by a glamorous Dionysus with a large contingent of disco queen spectators (the Chorus of Initiates).
Primarily, we hope to establish the darker elements of the play. The parabasis, retranslated not in rhyming verse, will be declaimed to the audience in a serious style, to a background of warlike music and slide images of destruction, with the slide projector worked by Dionysus himself at his most sinister. We want to emphasise the serious political comments, so applicable to our time, and the sadness that seems so much a part of them. It's as if Aristophanes guessed that his advice would not be taken (would it have worked?), Euripides and all he represents, no doubt to some a shining hope, would be left in Hell, and Athens would travel unchecked to her defeat.
For Further Information Contact:
School of Archaeology, Classics, and Ancient History
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Adapted and Directed by Caroline Calburn and Marlene Blom
Orange Street Campus
University of Cape Town
8001 Cape Town
Tel. (021) 242340 ext. 128
Performed by BA drama students at the University of Cape Town. The directors hope to make the play extraordinarily physical and exploit amphibian movement and sound, and to expand on the absurdity and fantastical quality that the play offers.