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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Classics on Broadway 2002: Ancient Tales and Post/Modern Meanings

Thomas M. Falkner.

Although revivals and revisions of the classics of Greek and Roman literature are fairly frequent on the New York stage, 2002 has been remarkable for their number, range, and commercial success. This paper will focus in particular on three works which draw deeply for their theme and form on classical texts Edward Albee's The Goat, Or, Who is Sylvia? (directed by David Esbjornson), Paul Schmidt's To You, The Birdie! (Phdre) (as performed by The Wooster Group), and Ovid's Metamorphoses (directed by Mary Zimmerman). While attempting to appreciate some of the elements that account for their popularity and critical acclaim (their colloquial idiom, domestic themes, imaginative staging), it will also describe how differently they position themselves in respect to their classical sources by different turns validating, challenging, and rejecting them and how these different positions reflect divisions in the contemporary view of the classics that have social and political significance.


Thomas M. Falkner  (United States)
Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Classical Studies
Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
The College of Wooster

Thomas M. Falkner is Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Classical Studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio, with particular interests in Greek and Roman theatre. His most recent publication is “Scholars versus Actors: Text and Performance in the Greek Tragic Scholia” in Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession (Cambridge UP 2002).

  • Classics
  • Theatre
Person as Subject
  • Euripides Ovid Sophocles Albee, Edward Schmidt, Paul Zimmerman, Mary

(30 min Conference Paper, English)