Dionysia Festival at Corpus Christi

Tags: festival, Greek drama, Aristophanes, reception

On 26th May, the Year 8 Latinists visited the beautiful auditorium at Corpus Christi College to perform scenes from Ancient Greek comedies which they had chosen and adapted. Four groups worked on scenes from Aristophanes' Frogs, Birds, Clouds and Wasps, as well as producing their own posters and TV trailers for the plays!

This Dionysia (annual drama festival in Ancient Athens in honour of the god Dionysus) started with a fascinating and rousing introductory talk by Professor Fiona Macintosh, Head of the Archives of Greek Drama at the University of Oxford. Fiona explored the modern parallels with the plays, and then the groups introduced their plays to the audience, which included parents and sixth formers, before performing their chosen scenes. The posters and trailers were also shown. The plays featured lively and colourful choruses of birds and frogs, two dead poets competing in the Underworld, an argument between the "Right" and "Wrong" argument at Socrates "Thinkery", and a dog put on trial for stealing cheese!  

The students performed wonderfully, and while the audience were having refreshments (including goat-decorated fairy cakes - since goats were sacred to Dionysus and awarded as prizes for plays put on during the festival), Fiona Macintosh and Greek drama DPhil student Marchella Ward chose winners for various categories. 


There was then a mesmerising musical performance by Malcolm Atkins, from Avid for Ovid, Cheney's Artists in Residence, accompanied by sixth form Latinists, Coral Dalitz and Ruchika Ganesh, reading out Latin and English from Ovid's story of Aurora in his poem Metamorphoses. 

Finally, Marchella announced the winners, giving thoughtful feedback on the judging, and the students received an array of goat-themed prizes!

It was a really enjoyable and exciting event, and we are very grateful to Corpus Christi College for providing such a perfect venue for the plays, and to Fiona and Marchella, for their talks and their judging.

Well done to all the Year 8 Latinists, and also to Coral and Chika for their beautiful reading.