Classics Reclaimed – August: City Dionysia
Spring/Summer 2020 has been challenging for our theatre community in many ways. There have been many wonderful opportunities for growth and reflection, but there is also an undeniable sense of loss. From cancelled gigs to separation anxiety to Zoom-Room burn-out, we’ve been through a lot! So we thought we’d offer an excuse to get together, get creative, and let loose under the summer sun with this month’s Classics Reclaimed event, City Dionysia!
The Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about how a great festival can bring catharsis and healing. They let off steam with legendary bacchanals honouring Dionysus, god of theatre and wine and revelry. However, most scholars agree that women were never a part of the theatrical celebrations. Female characters like Medea, Jocasta, Lysistrata, Electra, the women in the Bacchae, were often the toast of the festivities, but they were played by male performers and watched by male audiences. Exclusively. Even today, the realm of classical scholarship is heavily dominated by white, western, male academics and it’s that patriarchal lens which has shaped our understanding of these plays, as well as the playwrights and characters.
But did you know that it was a woman who first translated Euripides into English? In the mid-sixteenth century, Baroness Jane Lumley began paving the way for female representation in the classics with what is considered to be THE FIRST dramatic work written by a woman. This month, we’re celebrating women of the ancient world and the women who translate/adapt their stories…and maybe celebrating the god of wine at the same time!
Artists are invited to participate in this creative, symposium-style jam session where we’ll share performances of scenes, songs, poetry, etc. and discuss the importance of reclaiming space for female-identifying voices in ancient Greek material. Simply get in touch with us at [email protected] before Monday, August 10th to join the festivities!
How it will work…
Participants will connect in advance to share ideas and manage collaborations (see The Forum & Performance Material below). From this material, a flexible program of casual performances will be curated for our “Symposium Day” when we’ll get together to share, discuss, and enjoy each other’s company (see Symposium Day & In-Person/Zoom Compatible below). With artist permission, content from the Symposium Day will be RECORDED and shared with audiences via the Tiger’s Hearts Facebook page on our regular Classics Reclaimed Third Thursday; August 20th at 7pm MST. (see Recorded, NOT LIVE below).
The Forum- All interested artists will be part of an online Forum where we can share ideas and materials. Come with your own unique performance ideas inspired by the ancient world OR choose from a list of scenes, poetry, and other materials provided. Work can be individual or in groups, but please note that all group rehearsals will be self-led and MUST observe COVID-19 safety protocols. Direction/Mentorship will be available upon request.
Performance Material- We want to create a casual, festival-style cornucopia of creativity, so material may include song, dance, poetry, scenes, monologues, original writing or artwork inspired by the ancient world, etc. We focus on celebrating female-identifying voices in the classical world, so we encourage artists who are using pre-existing texts to work from translations/adaptations written or created by women (there will be lots of these materials provided on The Forum).
Symposium Day- This is the day to get dressed up (or down!) and enjoy a casual, creative, safe space with other artists in our community. We’ll share our performances, celebrate each other’s work, and hold in-depth discussions. As we’ll be recording material which will be shared online after the Symposium Day (NOT live), the program of performances and conversations will be flexible to our needs.
In-Person & Zoom Compatible- Artists have the option of participating either in person or via Zoom. Our outdoor space will be done up for socially-distant festivities, so bring your own chair, supplies, etc (detailed COVID-19 safety protocols will be sent in advance). We also have everything we need to bring Zoom participants to the party if you prefer to stay in your own space or are not in the Edmonton area. Because we will be outdoors, the date of the Symposium Day will be subject to weather conditions. Please indicate your availability/preference in your email for the proposed dates Saturday August 15th, Sunday August 16th, or Monday August 17th (from 7pm on all days).
Recorded, NOT LIVE: We made the decision this month to make the City Dionysia an event for artists first. By creating a safe space for exploration without the pressures of live-stream performance, we hope to offer a fun and casual physical space that meets the current needs of artists in our community. We also want to acknowledge the safe emotional space that we can hold for each other in a physical rehearsal room; a place we all miss very much.
We remain committed to showcasing female-identifying artists and holding public space for women’s voices in theatre. We’re excited to play with a recorded format that offers audiences a new way to experience pandemic-era entertainment, however not all performances need to be recorded or shared. Permission to share any content MUST be expressly given, in writing, by each participant (more on Recording Protocols will be shared with the group).
As the pandemic continues to impact our lives, our community is constantly exploring new ways to create and connect, and we’re shifting with the times to offer opportunities for female-identifying artists. We hope that this playful, festive atmosphere will encourage participants and audience members alike to let loose, find joy, and reignite purpose through creativity.