In our final lesson of term, we started off by looking at some unusual looking ancient Greek words and transliterating them. Examples included: “epopoi…. poipoipoipoipoi” and “torotorotorotorotix”. You guessed at what these might be, and many of you correctly identified that they were animal sounds.
They were in fact sounds made by the birds in a play by the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes, who lived and wrote in Athens in the fifth century BC. We looked at an ancient Greek theatre, its immense size, impressive acoustics, and the fact that actors wore masks. We also noted that the theatres had an altar, due to theatre emerging from the worship of the god Dionysus. We will look at this more closely next term.
Finally, we met the Dionysia – an annual festival where playwrights would put on tragedies and comedies as part of a competition!
We then split into groups, and each group was given a playscript for a different Aristophanes play – Bird, Frogs, Peace, or Clouds. Your project over the next few weeks is to choose a scene from the play to act out, design costumes, set and props, make a short TV trailer and a poster, and perform all this at our very own Dionysia early in June.
And here’s the extra twist!
We also took a moment to introduce the story of women’s suffrage. This year is a very special year for women’s suffrage, as it marks 100 years since some women were first able to vote in a general election in Britain. We looked at Emily Wilding Davison’s death at the races in 1913, and we looked at the suffragists and the NUWSS, led by Millicent Fawcett, and the suffragettes, who were part of Emmeline Pankhurst’s militant Women’s Social and Political Union. We saw anti-suffrage and pro-suffrage propaganda.
The Rumble Museum at Cheney is running a very wide range of projects, events and exhibitions to commemorate 100 years since women gained the right to vote, and for that reason, I asked you all to think about how to incorporate the theme in some way into your plays. You can find out more about the Rumble Museum’s Suffrage Season here.
Aristophanes’ comedies were highly satirical and political, and include many references to key political figures and events. It will be an exciting challenge to think how to incorporate the theme in some way into these plays, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you all do this!
The groups are as follows:
Clouds – Amy, Lucy, Cyanne, Eloise
Frogs – Kasra, Bethany, Leri, Amelie
Birds – Chris, Ajay, Sam, Jaina, Mariatina
Peace – Faith, Elizabeth, Katherine, Isabella
Birds – Lilly, Lola, Tabbie, Marianne, May
Frogs – Na’el, Calum, Runa, Mary, Thomas
Clouds – Louis, Subhan, Anoushka, Maddie, Nathan
Your holiday homework is to read your scripts and start to think about scenes and planning. You were all given scripts, but some people were away. All scripts can be downloaded here.
Have fun and enjoy your holidays!