"PROMETHEUS ON STAGE AND SCREEN"
SATURDAY 24 NOVEMBER 2007
BP Lecture Theatre, The British Museum,
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Prometheus was the rebel Titan who defied Zeus to steal the divine fire and
gave comforts and skills to the mortals on the earth. As the introducer of
fire and inventor of human technology, Prometheus has been seen as the
patron of human civilization, and his story has given a rich legacy to the
arts, crafts, myths and literature of Western culture. This lively and
enjoyable study day offers illustrated presentations by classicists, film
and stagecraft experts and museum curators. They take a close look at film
screenings, stage productions and artefacts to examine the reception of the
Prometheus myth and its dramatisation for stage and screen.
Members of the sponsoring bodies and any guests and non-members are welcome.
Tea and coffee are included in the cost of the day, but participants should
make their own arrangements for lunch.
Cost - £28; Friends of the British Museum & Hellenic Society members - £24;
students & concessions - £18
10-00 am Registration
10-30 am Introduction: Professor Oliver Taplin (University of Oxford)
10-40 am Dr Pantelis Michelakis (University of Bristol) "Prometheus in early
11-40 am Coffee
12-05 am Professor Edith Hall (Royal Holloway, University of London)
"Working-class heroes: Harrison’s Prometheus and the quest for a public poetry"
13-05 pm Lunch – please make your own arrangements
14-20 pm Professor Lorna Hardwick & Mrs Carol Gillespie (Open University)
"What kind of Prometheus do the moderns create?"
15-20 pm Tea
15-45 pm Dr Alexandra Villing (British Museum) "From Archaic Greece to Oskar
Kokoschka: Picturing Prometheus in the arts"
16-15 pm Mr Russell Shone (Hellenic Society) "Performing Prometheus Bound"
17-00 pm Close
To book, please contact The Box Office, The British Museum, Great Russell
Street, London WC1B 3DG - tel: 020 7323 8181.
or application forms can be downloaded from the Hellenic Society website @
Full Details of Sessions:
Prometheus in early cinema
Pantelis Michelakis (University of Bristol) will explore the reception of
Prometheus in early cinema: from the now lost film adaptation of the myth by
Louis Feuillade in 1908, to the film of Eva Palmer’s stage production of
Prometheus Bound in the Delphic Festival of 1928, Ted Shawn’s dance as a
bound Prometheus in 1929, and Ivan Kavaleridze’s Ukrainian adaptation of the
myth in 1935, which Stalin condemned for its lack of realism. The
presentation will be illustrated with slides and film-clips.
Working-class heroes: Harrison’s Prometheus and the quest for a public poetry
Edith Hall (Royal Holloway, University of London and Director of the
University of Oxford’s Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama)
will ask how Tony Harrison’s feature film looks at the tension between the
élite associations of the classics and the importance of the myth of
Prometheus to the twentieth-century dream of working-class liberation. The
context of the 1984 miners’ strike can illuminate Harrison’s project to find
a mythical language that promotes, rather than excludes, the proletariat’s
perspective. The presentation will be illustrated with film-clips.
What kind of Prometheus do the moderns create?
Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie (Project Director and Project Officer for
The Reception of the Texts and Images of Ancient Greece in Late
Twentieth-Century Drama and Poetry in English at the Open University) will
look at how modern writers from Ted Hughes to Tom Paulin draw on drama,
myth, images and the anthropology and politics of performance to create
their Prometheus. They will discuss differing implications for ideas about
civilisation and the hero, and make some suggestions about possible future
From Archaic Greece to Oskar Kokoschka: Picturing Prometheus in the arts
Alexandra Villing (British Museum) will explore the way the story of
Prometheus has inspired artists from the 6th century BC to the 21st century
AD, and how it reflects the changing concerns of people through the ages.
Looking in detail at artefacts in the British Museum as well as images from
across the world, she traces the development of images of Prometheus and how
they functioned as a catalyst for humanity to contemplate vital questions
such as the relationship between man and god, suffering as part of the human
condition, class struggle, and ambiguous attitudes towards technological
Performing Prometheus Bound
Russell Shone (Hellenic Society and Director of Chloë Productions) will
examine the staging of Prometheus Bound: from original 5th Century Athenian
stagecraft, to the famous renaissance of Greek play performances in Delphi
in the 1920s, and to modern stagings, including an analysis of the Chloë
performance at Riverside Studios, London in 1998. The presentation will be
illustrated with slides, extracts and a demonstration of masks/costumes.