The Center for the Core Curriculum will present Sophocles’ Oedipus the King for students in the first-year Literature Humanities course at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, in Low Library. The play will be performed by the Acting Class of the Theatre Department of the School of the Arts. Members of the Columbia College community are welcome to attend.
Oedipus the King, also known as "Oedipus Rex," was first performed in 429 BCE. It chronicles the story of Oedipus, a man who becomes the king of Thebes who was destined from birth to murder his father and marry his mother. It is a classic Greek tragedy, in which the hero’s faults contribute to his tragic downfall.
Literature Humanities: Masterpieces of Western Literature and Philosophy has been part of the Columbia College Core Curriculum for decades. Each fall, students read several ancient Greek works. This year’s syllabus includes The Iliad, Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles’ Oedipus, and Euripdes’ Medea.
The Theatre Department of the School of the Arts has performed plays for Literature Humanities students each year for several years. Last year, students performed Euripedes’ Iphigeneia at Aulis. This year's play is directed and produced by Greg Taubman.
Literature Humanities chair Gareth Williams, Violin Family Professor of Classics, said students find the chance to see the written Literature Humanities texts produced on stage very engaging.
“What did a fifth century Greek tragedy look like as a spectacle? In what ways did the playwrights communicate major themes not just through language but through visual accent, sound effect and dramatic suggestion? How many players were there on stage at any one time, and what did the stage look like,” he said. “We cannot of course reproduce every aspect of the ancient dramatic experience; but, with the help of the Theatre department, we are very much able to bring the text to life for students’ benefit.”
There is no charge for this event, but students are asked to bring a cushion to sit on. There is no formal seating in order to create the sense of a crowd gathering in the performance space.
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