Yesterday morning, Year Eight Latinists performed for our seventh annual Dionysia Festival! This year’s festival took place on Friday 27th May at the auditorium at Corpus Christi College.
The Year Eight Latinists had been working very hard to adapt four well-known ancient Greek comedies to the modern day. Aristophanes was an ancient Athenian playwright, and he was renowned for lampooning the politicians, customs and context of his fifth century Athens in his plays. His plays were written during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, a time of great upheaval and uncertainty for the Athenian people. Many of the plays directly explore these themes.
The festival was opened by Dr Scott Scullion, who told the audience of students, parents, grandparents, and siblings a little about Aristophanes’ comedy: how it was rude, highly political and unafraid to take on the politicians and topical events of the time.
The Year Eights chose “Partygate” as their overarching theme, and they incorporated this theme in a range of ways into the productions.
In Birds, the audience witnessed Boris, devastated at the loss of his beloved mate Dominic Cummings, who had just walked out on him, and plotting with Matt Hancock to create a brand new place called Etonia, where they could revel in privilege and parties. However, a UK citizen was not letting him away with it!
In Apollo’s Frogs, we saw a frustrated director attempt to get an unruly cast of actors to put on a production of the Frogs. With one actor refusing to wear green and be a frog because “green is so not my colour”, another two constantly messing around and cracking jokes, and another trying to make her debut and to get into Oxford, the director has a lot on her hands!
In Clouds, a dim-witted MP attempts to get Socrates to let him into the Thinkery so he can learn how to argue Boris out of his latest partygate scandal. A chorus of Clouds and Socrates attempt to help him but realise it is going to take a lot of work…
In Artemis’ Frogs, Euripides and Aeschylus argue it out in the Underworld, as Dionysus desperately tries to decide which of them is the best poet and deserves to return to Athens and save the city from despair. Audience participated in rap song but in the end scales were the only way to choose.
In Peace, a frustrated chief of police struggles to understand why Boris has not removed the Covid restrictions, until he discovers that it is to conceal the parties he has been taking part in. So he sets out to reveal the truth to the citizens of the UK.
The Year Eights also made posters and trailers for each play. You can watch their trailers and see their posters here, as well as watch some clips from their performances:
There was a break for refreshments after their performances, followed by a stunning performance by Oxford University Drama Society, “Songs of the Silenced”, a series of beautiful, witty songs based on the women of Greek mythology, introduced by a wry Circe.
Finally, our judges Dr Marchella Ward and Dr Scott Scullion announced their awards and feedback to the students, with thoughtful and supportive reflections on each of the performances, noting aspects of set, costume, trailers, posters, scripts and overall plays.
We are very grateful to our judges Dr Marchella Ward and Dr Scott Scullion for judging at the Dionysia, to Songs of the Silenced for their amazing performance, and to Corpus Christi College for letting us use their beautiful auditorium.
Thank you to all the families and friends who attended to support, and to our amazing Year Eights for their creativity, stamina and incredible performances!