Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance
Modern Performances of Ancient Drama: Theory and Practice
For the past three years, the CAMP panels have focused on ideology and performance. This year we will address ourselves to the theory and practice of performance, as well as the ways in which it may shape our pedagogy. There are many ways as well as many reasons to produce an ancient play, and as many ways to study and to teach from the perspective of performance.
In the reviews of contemporary productions, a basic division seems to emerge between “faithfulness” to the past (often pejoratively called the museum approach) and “relevance” to the present. Edith Hall has argued that since 1968 the Greek tragedies, in particular, have been performed with a critical edge (Dionysus Since 69 [Oxford 2004] 1). The prophets of doom and gloom, the Allan Blooms and Lynne Cheneys of the U.S. culture wars seem to have been proven wrong if we look at performances of ancient drama. Their fears that postmodernism, multiculturalism, and feminism would be the death of classics have not been realized, and instead there has been a bumper crop of new productions, especially of Greek tragedy, at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first centuries.
This seeming expansion of productions has been accompanied by increased scholarly attention to productions and reception, as can be seen in the development of the Oxford archive of Ancient Performance of Greek and Roman Drama, and the series of publications from that research group, e.g. Agamemnon in Performance 458 BC to AD 2004; Medea in Performance 1500-2000; Dionysus Since 69.
We invite practitioners and scholars to address pragmatic or theoretical issues in the performance of ancient drama. We welcome papers from directors or actors discussing a specific performance, or a style of performance. Questions to be considered might include: Was the mask used? The chorus? In what ways did the performance attempt to replicate ancient performance conditions or experiment with “making it new” and relevant? How did you arrive at your conception for the production?
We also welcome papers addressing the importance and value of teaching ancient drama with attention to the ways it was performed. Finally, papers might well investigate aspects of reception theory as it applies to ancient drama. In the end we envision a wide-ranging panel that reveals the many ways in which performance contributes to our understanding of ancient drama.
Abstracts should be submitted electronically to Nancy S. Rabinowitz (nrabinow AT hamilton.edu) by Feb. 1, 2008. The abstract should follow the APA guidelines (one page in 11 pt type; title in upper right-hand corner in 12 pt type) and be anonymous. Papers will normally be no longer than 20 minutes long. Please include requests for audio-visual equipment and allow for the screening of clips in your estimate of time needed. After papers are accepted by the readers, a complete panel will be submitted to the APA Program Committee for its approval.