Exploring the Greek Chorus with the Shadows of Troy team

On Tuesday 21st January, Year Eight Latinists were treated to a special workshop on ancient Greek theatre by Georgina Dettmer and Maya Little, students from the University of Oxford who have been working on the forthcoming Oxford Playhouse performance of “Shadows of Troy”,  a new adaptation of Sophocles’ Ajax, and Euripides’ Iphigenia at Aulis.

Shadows of Troy
Wed 12 – Sat 15 Feb, Oxford Playhouseposter-image
The students were initially able to practice some simple techniques to get them thinking about and exploring how choruses work together using breathing and awareness of each other. Students worked on pairs on mirroring, practised walking around the room and filling the spaces, and tried to count to 25 in turns with their eyes closed.

Georgina and Maya then told the group the story behind the two plays, which was Agamemnon, commander of the Greek army, sacrificing his own daughter, Iphigenia, in order to gaina  favourable wind so the army could sail to Troy to begin the Trojan War. The students acted some of the parts. The group discussed what the role of a Greek chorus was: to commentate, to give context and perspective, and to represent a community of people within the play. There is nothing quite like it in modern plays. They would sing and dance in unison, which would be very striking.

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Finally, the group was split into two, and each smaller group was given part of a Greek chorus from Shadows of Troy to perform. The students devised very inventive ways of using their chorus to express the words of the play using movement in unison, such as being under the sway of the queen, but then breaking this control.

The workshop was a lively and fascinating way of introducing the themes of the play and the role of the Greek chorus and we are very grateful to Georgina and Maya for giving their time to deliver it.

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