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Re-imagining the Greeks Conference at Amherst College

March 23, 2017 - March 25, 2017
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Re-imagining the Greeks: Contemporary and Cross-cultural Approaches to Greek Tragedy

Conference at Amherst College

The Theater and Dance Department at Amherst College will host a three-day conference, Re-imagining the Greeks: Contemporary and Cross-cultural Approaches to Greek Tragedy, to take place in The Holden Theater on March 23-25, 2017.

Each day will be devoted to a different region of the world, and its cultural relationship with the ancient Greeks. The first day will be about Japanese adaptations, the second about Black interpretations (African and American), and the third about American adaptations. These cross-cultural approaches prove that Greek Tragedy is a universal resource, regardless of color or region, and not the exclusive property and cradle of the West.

As part of the interdisciplinary approach of our department, the conference aims to combine the theory and practice of various disciplines. Accordingly, scholarly discussions will be intertwined with workshops in which we employ non-western performative traditions in the exploration of ancient Greek texts. Live performances will also be scheduled.

We will bring together people from diverse disciplines and backgrounds: practitioners, scholars and the general public. Participation in the workshops is open to students and professionals with experience in performing.

The conference is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, The Arts at Amherst Initiative, with additional support from related academic departments.

Conference highlights

March 23. Japanese adaptations: Mae Smethurst from University of Pittsburgh will lead a discussion about the works of Tadashi Suzuki, Yukio Ninagawa and Miyagi Satoshi. She will be accompanied by Izumi Ashizawa, a stage director and choreographer, who has worked with Suzuki. We will workshop excerpts of Greek texts using Noh and Butoh, and watch a live performance of “Butoh Medea” by Yokko, a new adaptation of Medea, which makes use of Butoh dance.

March 24. Black Interpretations: Astrid van Weyenberg from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, will lead a discussion about South African and Nigerian adaptations of Antigone and the myth of House of Atreus. Weyenberg will be joined by Nigerian playwright Femi Ososfisan, who has written adaptations of Antigone and The Trojan Women. Intertwined with the scholarly discussion, actors will read scenes, and we will workshop excerpts of ancient Greek texts using live West African music and performance traditions. George Rodosthenous from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom will launch his new book: Contemporary Adaptations of Greek Tragedy: Auteurship and Directorial Visions.

March 25 (morning). Music and dance: Visiting Assistant Professor Sarah Olsen will discuss dance in ancient Greek tragedies. Professor Wendy Woodson will lead a movement workshop with composer and percussionist Jake Meginsky. They will experiment with some of the ideas and images presented at the conference.

March 25 (evening). American interpretations: Helene Foley from Columbia University will lead a discussion about the representations of war in American adaptations, with emphasis on the works of Ellen McLaughlin and Peter Sellars. Stage director and Visiting Assistant Professor Yagil Eliraz will lead a workshop to explore excerpts from The Persians using Iranian music.


Start: March 23, 2017
End: March 25, 2017
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