Performance of the Bacchae at the East Oxford Community Classics Centre

Guest Blogger: Network Member Lucy Rayfield (DPhil, Modern Languages)

2G1A0796As Director of the upcoming production ‘Sparagmos’, a musical double-bill of Euripides’ ‘Bacchae’ and Poliziano’s ‘Orpheus’, I was keen to reach out to a wider community and use this play as a means of promoting the appreciation and enjoyment of classical tragedy. In my mind, ancient theatre such as that by Euripides is too often regarded as inaccessible or irrelevant, especially by younger audiences. In a bid to take a small step towards changing this, we decided to take the ‘Bacchae’ to the East Oxford Community Classics Centre at Cheney School in Oxford on 11th February, where fifty students from a range of year groups witnessed a special premiere of the production.

All involved found it to be an extremely rewarding experience. Lorna Robinson, the Centre’s Director, remarked that the performance was ‘exceptional’, adding that ‘students were able to witness the humour and terror of the play through some stunning performances, including a very arrogant King Pentheus and the fearsome god Dionysus!’ The students proved to be a strikingly attentive and receptive audience; Year 11 Ruchika Ganesh commented: “That was really amazing! The acting was so professional. I loved the singing!”, whilst Year 9 student Barnaby Evans reflected: “that was so much fun! I really enjoyed it”.

I was delighted to see that the students were so entertained by the production. Pentheus’ cross-dressing scene was particularly well-received, as was the music sung by the Chorus of Bacchants. I was also pleased to learn that several planned to attend the main performance in Exeter Chapel, for which we have introduced a special student rate of £3 (£1.50 per play). This initiative was certainly worthwhile, and I hope that some- if not all who attended- will have discovered that classical tragedy can hold the same fascination today it did 2500 years ago.

‘Sparagmos’ will take place on 18th-19th February at 7:30PM in Exeter College Chapel in Oxford. Tickets for the two performances can be bought here:


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