Orestes in Leeds

17th-19th March at 7.30pm at Stage@Leeds

World première of Alex Clark’s adaptation of Euripides’ play
Associated events:
Play-reading Group
Pre-performance talks
Public Masterclass

For full details visit http://visitingresearchfellowship.blogspot.com/p/events.html

The Cambridge News reports on Sancton Wood’s success

From the Cambridge News

Sancton Wood school, in St. Pauls Road in the city centre, has won first place in the city wide Latin Play Competition for the fourth year running.

In a competition which featured St. Mary’s, Perse Boys, Parkside, Coleridge, Comberton and the Perse Girls, Sancton Wood also scooped a prize in the Latin Reading Competition when Emily Atkins (Year 8) was placed second out of twelve competitors.

Judge John Stevens, Classicist, and Lecturer at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education said,” It was richly deserved. The Sancton Wood play was performed with supreme confidence, the pronounciation was very beautiful and you felt as if you were really there in Ancient Rome.’

The year 8 Sancton Wood team was coached by teachers Michelle Holman and Russell Lord.

The play, a version of the Pyramus and Thisbe story, was performed by 13 Year 8 pupils who have been studying Latin for the last two years.

They had to perfect a first century Latin accent and then learn their roles by heart.

Eagle of the Ninth to be filmed

Newsbites: The Greco-Roman edition!
1. Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland) will start shooting The Eagle of the Ninth in August; the film concerns “a wounded Roman soldier and his loyal Celtic slave who try to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion, a brigade of Roman soldiers that vanished after heading into the untamed Highlands of Scotland 15 years earlier.” — Variety

2. Coincidentally, Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday) is already making his own movie about the Ninth Legion; it is called Centurion, and it is far enough into production that the filmmakers recently released a making-of video and a photo of former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko made up to look like “a savage-looking Pict warrior woman”. — Empire, Rotten Tomatoes

3. Bond girl Gemma Arterton has been cast as the demi-goddess Io in the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans (1981). Meanwhile, Cinesite has been hired to provide some of the “major creature animation” — using computers, of course, rather than the stop-motion techniques that living legend Ray Harryhausen used on the original film. — Empire, VFXWorld

4. Sean Bean will play Zeus, Kevin McKidd will play Poseidon, Pierce Brosnan will play Chiron, Uma Thurman will play Medusa and Melina Kanakerides will play Athena in Percy Jackson, an adaptation of the best-selling children’s novel The Lightning Thief, which is set in the present day and concerns the half-human children of the gods. — Variety, Hollywood Reporter (x2)

5. The Gotham Group is developing a film based on Steven Sherrill’s novel The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, which concerns “the mythical half-man, half-bull minotaur who was supposedly slain by Theseus 3,000 years ago and now lives a lonely life in a Wichita trailer park, making ends meet as a short-order cook in a rundown diner.” — Variety
Total Film
State Of Play director Kevin Macdonald is going back to Roman times for his next film, signing up to direct The Eagle Of The Ninth.

The film finds a wounded Roman soldier and his loyal Celtic slave (Jamie Bell, below) who attempt to solve the mystery of the Ninth Legion.

Who are they? They would be a brigade of Roman soldiers who set off for the wild Scottish Highland hills 15 years before… And were never seen again.

Channing Tatum has been offered the role of the injured Roman, but he hasn’t yet decided if his accent’s up to the job. Sorry, that he’ll take the part.

If he signs, he’ll be off to shooting Hungary (doubling for Roman-occupied England) in August. Scotland, meanwhile, will be played by Scotland.

Seems England’s a little too built up to really serve Roman times.

And what is it with Romans, suddenly? Neil Marshall’s in production on Centurion and now this?

Seneca’s Oedipus to be staged

From Leigh Valley

Moravian College works with Touchstone Theatre
School receives outside assistance to stage Roman version of classic tragedy “Oedipus.”
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The Express-Times

Christopher Shorr thinks the nation could use a healthy dose of Roman theater.

Shorr, a visiting assistant professor of English at Moravian College who runs the school’s theater department, says the visceral nature of Roman drama helped guide his decision to have his students perform “Oedipus” by Seneca.

The Greek “Oedipus Rex” by Sophocles, is the more famous play. But Shorr wanted to produce Seneca’s later version, because he wanted to challenge his students and because he thought the timing seemed right.

“Maybe America is ready for some Roman tragedy,” says Shorr. “There are things that are happening in our society that show that we’re not as young and optimistic as we once were, and as the Greeks once were.”

“Oedipus” opens Thursday at Moravian College’s Arena Theater and runs through April 5. The Moravian College Theatre Company is producing the play, in conjunction with Touchstone Theatre.

Romans borrowed a great deal of their culture from the Greeks, adding their own cultural twist. So instead of Zeus, the Romans had Jupiter. And they may not have changed the name of “Oedipus,” or the central storyline — a man tries to avoid his fate of killing his father and marrying his mother and ends up doing just that — but Shorr points out some key differences.

For one thing, there’s a lot more blood.

“One of the major differences bet Greek tragedy and Roman tragedy, in general, is that in Greek tragedy more violence happens offstage, whereas in Roman tragedy the violence happens onstage,” Shorr says.

This creates subtle changes in the plot, too. (Spoiler alert.) In Sophocles’ play, Oedipus blinds himself (offstage) after his wife/mother, Jocasta, commits suicide. In the Roman version, Jocasta discovers her son already blinded, and stabs herself, onstage.

Shorr reached out to Touchstone Theatre for help with staging “Oedipus.” A former Virginia resident, Shorr says he knew of the South Bethlehem theater company’s reputation before he moved to the Lehigh Valley. Touchstone ensemble member James Jordan says the troupe had not collaborated with Moravian before, and the opportunity seemed right.

Jordan consulted on the technical aspects of “Oedipus,” pushing the students to come up with creative solutions to the problems of Seneca’s play. They responded well, Jordan says.

“I’ve been amazed at some of the students and their willingness to immerse themselves in the work,” he says. “It’s neat to … pass the torch and give them the knowledge.”

Shorr says the collaboration with Touchstone was a success, and made sense from the start.

“Because the theater program is very small, we don’t have a faculty of acting teachers and directing teachers and designing teachers … we just have me,” he says.

Jordan agrees: “It’s just this perfect match, and such a fulfilling experience,” he says.

“Oedipus” stars Moravian College student Jason Ginther in the title role, student Becky Kolacki as Jocasta and professor Christopher Jones as Creon. Because of the play’s violence and mature themes, it is not suitable for children.

Adam Richter can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at arichter@express-times.com.

More about that film being made in Scotland, Centurion

Press and Journal

Highlanders dress part to play extras in movie Centurion
Actors Roman in the gloamin

By Nichola Rutherford and Johnny Muir

Published: 12/03/2009

When almost 200 armoured men marched through a Highland estate wielding spears and carrying shields, onlookers would have been forgiven for thinking: “The Romans are coming”.

But the dozens of local men spotted braving rain and snow on the Glenfeshie Estate this week had good reason for dressing as Roman soldiers – they were extras in the new movie, Centurion.

Men from across the Highlands and Moray volunteered to take part in the movie, ensuring they would spend their 13-hour day working alongside Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.

Filming in the Highlands began last month and the local extras played their part during a day’s filming on Tuesday.

It is understood their efforts will amount to little more than seven minutes of the film, which is set during the Roman invasion of Britain and tells the story of Quintus Dias, the sole survivor of a raid on a Roman fort.

Newcastle-born writer-director Neil Marshall is among a team now working on the film’s special effects, which include increasing the numbers of Roman soldiers to appear like many thousands.

Ukranian Kurylenko, who appeared in Quantum of Solace, plays Gorlacon, a Pictish Queen who leads the rout of the Roman legion. The film is expected to be released late this year or in early 2010.

Meanwhile, Inverness Castle, the hills above Loch Ness at Dores and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal could all feature in a Bollywood movie due to be shot in the Highland capital next month.

Filming of the psychological thriller Purple Lake – based on Loch Ness – had been due to begin on Saturday but the start date has now been put back until the end of March.

Sue Bellarby, a UK-based locations manager for Indian film company ASA Productions and Enterprises, said Inverness and the Highlands would provide the movie’s backdrop during a month of filming.

She has scouted a multitude of locations which could feature in the movie, including Falcon Square, Inverness Castle, Midmills College, the city’s Red Cross building, the River Ness, the Town House and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal.

The hills and moorland overlooking the east bank of Loch Ness could also be used to create an “eerie winter feel”. Woodland close to Inverness may also be used, while shooting could take place inside a city home.

Ms Bellarby said: “For the size of the city in relation to a lot of other places, Inverness has everything.

“It has everything you could possibly want – shops, a theatre, lots of facilities, but it is only 10 minutes away from some of the most stunning countryside on the planet.”

Ms Bellarby said the film could also give the Highland economy a lift, with the movie’s cast due to stay in the Kingsmill and Thistle hotels during filming.

It is also hoped that after the film’s release, which is due to be this year, visitors will want to come to Inverness and the Highlands to explore some of the sights featured in the movie.

The film’s start date has been put back because of difficulties in bringing Indian actors to Scotland.

‘Clouds’ in Fleet Street

By an oversight I never posted this one, I fear. Hope it’s not too late. We are talking March – not all the dates make that clear.

flytheatre presents
a dazzling new musical comedy

Pre-show speakers announced! See below for details…
BOOK NOW for special schools offers – Friday 27th already SOLD OUT!

Tuesday 24th – Saturday 28th March 2009 (Friday 27th SOLD OUT)
At The Bridewell Theatre, Fleet Street, London

Evening performances at 7pm
Matinee Thursday March 26th at 3.45pm


Idiotic bumpkin Strepsiades has a problem – he’s in terrible debt
and his creditors are about to crunch. Only Socrates (philosopher, teacher, madman) can help.

Following last year’s hugely successful premiere, Clouds is back in
London for one week only and the tickets are selling fast…

Don’t miss this chance to see Aristophanes at his absurd best!

Follow this link for more information:

Special prices for Schools:
Tickets for school students are priced at £8.50 each.
School groups can book tickets now via our group sales line:
Call 01568 613823 or email groups@flytheatre.co.uk

Please note: this production contains strong language and sexual
(It is Aristophanes after all!)

EDUCATION PROGRAMME in association with the Oxford University Classics Outreach Programme

An education pack will shortly be available to download (free of
charge) from the Clouds website: http://www.cloudslondon.com.

Pre-show Talks (free of charge for audience members!)

Weds 25th – “An Introduction to Aristophanic Comedy” by Dr James Robson (Open University)

Thurs 26th Matinee – “Cloudcuckooland or Subversion? Philosophy and
Science in Aristophanes’ Clouds” by Professor Chris Emlyn-Jones (Open

Thurs 26th Evening – “The Cloudspotter’s Guide to Comedy Ancient and
Modern” by Dr Nick Lowe (Royal Holloway)

Fri 27th – “But What Did It Really Sound Like? Music and Voice in the
Ancient Comic Theatre” by Dr Armand D’Angour (Jesus College, Oxford University)

Our in-school workshops can be tailored to your requirements and
complement important modules in the Classical Civilisation, Drama, Theatre Studies and Ancient History syllabuses. Please contact our Education Officer, Simon Andrews, to make enquiries.

For more information on any of these events, or to enquire about a
workshop, please contact our Education Officer, Simon Andrews,
at education(AT)flytheatre.co.uk

Performance of Oedipus in Bexleyheath

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before.

Tickets are now on sale for my production of ‘Oedipus the King’ ( 21st – 28th March, 2009, at the Edward Alderton Theatre, Brampton Road, Bexleyheath, Kent). Price £7.00 per ticket. Performances begin at 8.00 p.m. No performance Sunday 22nd. One teacher ticket free with every ten tickets purchased for students. Book soon to avoid disappointment (020 8301 5584). For further details or a poster contact me, Clive Madel, at cmadel@camdengirls.camden.sch.uk

Clive Madel, Head of Classics, Camden School for Girls

The ‘Centurion’ film – more from Scotland

I posted the rather lurid tabloid treatment of this story yesterday. Here is a Scots view.

Press and Journal

Residents sought to star in film alongside Bond girl
Extras needed for combat scenes

Published: 09/02/2009

RESIDENTS in Badenoch and Strathspey will be able to star alongside a Bond girl in an action-adventure film being made in the Highlands.

Ukrainian-born Olga Kurylenko, who starred in Quantum of Solace, and Dominic West, who was in the American crime series The Wire, are making a new film about Romans and Picts.

It is the latest production from Newcastle-born writer-director Neil Marshall whose previous movies have all been set or shot in Scotland.

Some scenes from the film, to be called Centurion, will be shot on location around Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms, as well as in Surrey and at Ealing Studios.

Mr Marshall is looking for locals in Badenoch and Strathspey to help him out in the big battle and combat scenes.

Gordon McIntyre, a location scout, said: “They are doing some filming up around Glenfeshie Estate.

“They were looking for local bodies, and I said I can provide them.”

He said there was a lot of interest in re-enactments and “living history” performances in the area and there would be no shortage of volunteers keen to take a break from their normal day jobs and dress up as Romans and Picts.

Trish Shorthouse, of the Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission, said: “We’re delighted to have a project of this size and scale filming at this time of year, which can be a low time in the season for filming.

“It’s a great boost to the local economy.”

Centurion tells the story of Quintus Dias, who is the sole survivor of a Pictish raid on a Roman fort.

He manages to make his way back to the Roman forces and then marches north again with the Ninth Legion under orders to wipe out the Picts and kill their mysterious leader Gorlacon.

Filming is due to begin on February 22.

London Schools Classics Festival

Here is news of a great initiative by Lorna Robinson.

Iris Festival for London schools
17 – 19th June, 2009
all day at The Scoop, City Hall, More London.

The Iris Festival is a three-day festival of Classics run by The Iris Project (www.irismagazine.org), including plays and performances of Greek drama by London state schools, activities, workshops and talks. It will be free to schools and other members of the public. Details to be confirmed, but a provisional programme is given below for each day of the festival:

12:30pm : Opening remarks – Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

1pm – 2pm : A double bill of Greek Comedy (Birds by Aristophanes; Clouds by Aristophanes). Performed by local primary schools.

2:30pm – 4:30pm : activities and workshops (details to be confirmed)

6pm: Pre-performance talk on ancient theatre

6:30pm : A Classical tragedy (Euripides’ Bacchae). Performed by local sixth forms.

Alongside the space around the Scoop will be used for family-orientated activities such as mosaic-making, mask-making, story boarding of myths, and stalls.

Six schools will be involved in total with different schools performing on different days. Over one hundred pupils from London state schools will act on stage. The festival would be a culmination of a year’s work with schools, introducing Greek civilisation and culture in the form of classes and workshops that aim both to teach about Greek culture as well as working into the school’s social curriculum: Greek drama is inextricably linked with themes such as civic and social responsibility. These themes will be brought out both in the plays and in the workshops through discussion and role play.

The festival is an opportunity for children of all ages in inner London state schools to perform in public to a wide audience in an exciting professional venue and a chance for members of the public and schools to enjoy a three-day festival of Classics and Classical drama.

For more details, please get in touch with us. If you would like to help out with the running of the festival or offer financial support, please also get in touch!


Dr Lorna Robinson
Director, The Iris Project
Department of Classics
King’s College London

List of Greek (and Greek-inspired) drama productions

Thanks to Lizzie Sandis for compiling this list.

Dear all,

If you enjoy going to the theatre and are interested in finding out more
about Greek tragedy and comedy (and modern adaptations of Classical stories) I have posted a summary of current productions on our Outreach website:

University of Oxford Classics Outreach Programme
Theatre Guide: http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/outreach/theatre/index.asp
(or visit www.classics.ox.ac.uk/outreach and click on ‘Theatre guide’).

There’s an impressive variety of productions on at the moment, some in
Greek as well as quite a number in translation, so there should be something for everyone.

With all best wishes
Elizabeth Sandis