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Maribor Theatre Festival — Archive 2010 - 2016

From ancient times

Staged reading; DAHŠ and Maribor Theatre Festival

Staged Readings

Sunday 17 October 2010, at 4pm:
Aeschylus, The Persians, translated by Kajetan Gantar

Monday 18 October 2010, at 4pm:
Octavia, attributed to Seneca, translated by Jera Ivanc

Tuesday 19 October 2010, at 4pm:
Aristophanes, The Frogs, translated by Andreja Inkret

Tuesday 19 October 2010, at 5.15pm: Panel discussion
Stage One Prva gimnazija

The Persians (472 B.C.) is the oldest and Octavia (app. 90 A.D.) the most recent ancient play that has survived to modern times; the two plays are also the only examples of their genre. Four ancient Greek plays on historical subjects are known to us, compared to approximately fifteen dating from ancient Rome. The three oldest Greek plays draw on the Persian wars: Phrynichus’s The Capture of Miletus (492), describing the Persians’ capture of the Ionian town, and The Phoenician Women (476), which celebrates the Greeks’ victory over the Persian fleet near Salamis, and Aeschylus’s Persians, modelled on The Phoenician Women. The three plays are today considered the earliest examples of political theatre. In Ancient Rome, politicians’ influence on theatre was more than obvious, primarily on historical plays (fabula praetexta), "plays in senators’ togas", a typically Roman genre. Unfortunately, very little of this has survived: some of its context dates from the period of the early Republic - virtually every immortalized army leader financed poets in one way or another - while the text of one play, Octavia, dates from the period of the Empire but lacks practically any context. It was probably written during the reign of the Flavians (71-96), and its author must have been well familiar with Seneca’s plays. The play is set in the emperor’s court in 62 AD, when Nero married his pregnant mistress Poppaea Sabina and condemned his first wife, Octavia, to death in exile, although she enjoyed the support - at least in the play - of Seneca and the assembly of the Romans. Does criticism of Nero conceal a eulogy or the new dynasty or criticism of the reigning emperor? Is its author an apologist for Seneca? Is Octavia a political play or just petty politicking? Aristophanes’s comedy The Frogs (405 B.C), considered to be the first "theoretical text" about drama, clearly shows the importance that ancient Athens ascribed to politics when judging tragic poetry: to resolve the crisis that enveloped Athenian drama as well as the state itself, which was exhausted by the Peloponnesian wars, after the death of Sophocles and Euripides, Dionysius sets out on a journey to the underworld to seek the best poet, and the winner is Aeschylus. While his decision is crucially influenced by the proposed strategy for resolving the crisis, it is nevertheless difficult to get rid of the impression that the only author of genuine political theatre was Aristophanes. The lines from the Persians, Octavia and The Frogs will be read by students of the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television under the mentorship of Jera Ivanc. The context of these plays will be the subject of the symposium and panel discussions, with speakers including translators and experts on classical philology, art history, anthropology and history.


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