Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group
The Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group has been producing ancient plays in the original Greek or Latin every year since 1977. Though there is a faculty advisor, the director and actors of the play are students, primarily undergraduates and including first-year students in beginning Greek or Latin. A high standard is achieved, both in linguistic terms and in the quality of the acting.
The group is supported by the Matthew Alan Kramer Fund, which was established in memory of Matthew Alan Kramer, a Columbia Engineering student who performed in a number of productions as a student.
It is possible to acquire course credit for participation in the performance by reading the play with the faculty advisor as a directed reading (Greek 3997); for more information, contact Helene Foley.
BCADG performances attract audiences from across the nation, and have received positive reviews in both academic and non-academic journals (see below). Recent productions can be viewed on YouTube, where they are presented with subtitles as a resource for teaching.
Press for Recent Productions
"The annual performances by the Columbia/Barnard Ancient Drama Club remain one of the only opportunities in the country to watch the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Plautus, Terrence, and Seneca (as well as other ancient works adapted for the modern stage) in their original languages. It is a magical experience."
“Even if the performances of the Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group were half as good as they are, we’d have to be grateful to them for even attempting to perform ancient theater in the original language as something more than an academic exercise...Beyond youthful energy and enthusiasm, an impressive concentration of solid Greek, close, intelligent study of Euripides and his text, and, above all, theatrical talent brought this rarely performed—rarely even read—masterpiece to life.”
“The Barnard/Columbia Drama Group presented a provocative and meaningful production of Euripides’ Ion, which both entertained and intellectually engaged its audience.”
“Loveless’s score, in particular, carried the drama, via the voices of the chorus and actors as well as her and Yamashiro’s accompaniment. Her music animated the poetry and the dance, and the harmony between the three gave life to the drama.”
“Beyond the novelty of being performed in Latin... what is most striking about this production is its creativity, which is evident in all aspects of the production.”
2017 latin Play
DIRECTED BY YUJHÁN CLAROS
March 30-April 1, 2017
Minor Latham Playhouse, Barnard College
Tickets available here.
The Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group is proud to present Seneca's "Troades" (Trojan Women) - a resistance piece composed around the middle of the first century CE during the reign of Emperor Nero by his tutor.
Ten years wrought with bloodshed and agony of the Greek-Trojan conflict have ended. The surviving Greeks are ready to return to their homes, taking the Trojan people as their prizes and reducing the royalty to slaves. Despite the ashes of their city and compatriots scattering across the desolate plain of Ilium, the Trojan women stand together in their final moment of shared grief, rage, and strength.
This spring's production applies contemporary symbols and movement to Seneca’s protest in poetry.
2016 Greek Play
DIRECTED BY ANNA CONSER
March 31–April 2, 2016
Minor Latham Playhouse (Barnard Campus)
Sophocles’ Trachiniae tells the story of Deianeira, the wife that Herakles left at home while completing his famous labors and who inadvertantly (?) causes the hero's death. After long awaiting her husband's arrival, Deianeira learns he will return home with a new, younger bride. Burning with her own passion, she says she does not blame the lovers—“Love rules gods and humans as he likes, including me. Why not others, too?”—but she determines to win back his heart using a dangerous love potion. Learning her error, Deianeira commits suicide as Heracles, burning alive, is carried onstage and sings a powerful aria of anguish and anger.
Many of tragedy’s famous protagonists are women—Medea, Antigone, Clytemnestra, Hecuba—but Trachiniae is strikingly sympathetic in its analysis of the female experience of marriage and motherhood. Sophocles was a male poet writing for male actors to perform for male peers, yet the play he presents is obsessed with understanding the female psyche. What did these men hope to learn by acting out the sorrows of their wives and mothers, their daughters and slaves?
2015 Greek Play
DIRECTED BY RACHEL HERZOG
Euripides’ Ion tells the story of Creusa, an Athenian princess raped and abandoned by the god Apollo, and Ion, a foundling raised as a servant in Apollo’s sanctuary at Delphi. Their meeting unleashes an exciting plot of mistaken identities, long-kept secrets, and ultimately, reunion and reconciliation. This production will offer the rare opportunity to see this innovative and rarely performed tragedy in the original Greek with English supertitles, complete with all new music and choreography. Please note that the production contains some non-graphic discussion of sexual assault and its aftermath.
2014 Greek Play
DIRECTED BY ANNA CONSER AND SIMONE OPPEN
This play, the second of Aeschylus’ Oresteia trilogy, portrays Orestes’ return to Argos to avenge his father Agamemnon’s murder, along with his sister Electra, by killing their mother Clytemnestra. The production included a chorus of 11 who sang and danced to a live, original score by Melody Loveless.
2013 Latin Play
DIRECTED BY CLAIRE CATENACCIO
Thyestes was written by the Roman philosopher and dramatist Seneca in the first century CE. In this gruesome tragedy, Tantalus is summoned from the underworld to infect his House, rekindling enmity between his grandsons Atreus and Thyestes. Having usurped the throne of Mycenae from Atreus, Thyestes has long been in exile. Now Atreus lures his brother back to Mycenae, but not for reconciliation. Following in the footsteps of grandfather Tantalus, Atreus plots the perfect vengeance: preparing Thyestes’ own sons for a nefarious feast.
2012 Greek Play
DIRECTED BY CLAIRE CATENACCIO
Alcestis is the earliest surviving play by the Greek dramatist Euripides. Originally produced in 438 BCE in Athens, the play stands ambiguously between comedy and tragedy. Certain elements, such as the drunkenness of Heracles and the wrestling-match with Thanatos, are clearly comic. Yet the speeches and emotions of the central characters are deeply serious, and the play takes as its central theme the tragic limitations of human life and love.
2011 Greek play
Homer’s Iliad, Book 9
Directed by Claire Catenaccio
- Achilles: Ridge Montes
- Agamemnon: Mathias Hanses
- Ajax: Colin Webster
- Diomedes: Gavin McGown
- Nestor: Katharina Volk
- Odysseus: Stephen Blair
- Patroclus: Jeremy Lily
- Phoenix: Joe Sheppard
- Calloway Scott
- Charley McNamara
- Laura Walbroek
- Jenny Wasson
- Flute: Caleb Dance
- Violin: Suzanne Davies
- Mandolin: Colin Webster
- Bass: Liam Webster
- Costume: Kate Collison
- Design Director: Jenny Wasson
- Lighting: Gita Deo
- Music Director: Colin Webster
- Producer: Talia Varonos-Pavlopoulos
- Projection: Stephen Blair
- Tech: Sarah Kaczor