The ancients are coming! Or, more accurately, their plays and poetry are. Beginning on April 30, 2012, and continuing through May 1, New York University’s Aquila Theatre Company brings a series of staged readings, lectures, and workshops to various D.C. area libraries. It’s all part of Aquila’s project Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: National Conversation. Before its conclusion in 2013, the company’s tour will have brought a renewed appreciation for the timeless power of classical drama and stagecraft to an estimated 100 community sites around the country. Using scenes from Homer, Sophocles, Euripides and others, the series is designed to demonstrate that the ancient Greco-Romans understood human nature so well that their insights remain startlingly fresh and timely today. For instance, the frustrations expressed by Greek warriors about their feelings in “coming home” to a civilian environment from which they now feel hopelessly alienated continue to resonate so cogently with modern soldiers that such dramatic passages have been used to ease today’s emotional wounds. Participants in this series may discover that what it means to be human has in some ways scarcely changed over several thousand years—Homer and those who followed him at times know quite well who we are.
Among the upcoming programs in Washington will be scholar and actor talks about Odysseus as the “stranger” in foreign lands and on his return home and about the Greek poets as singers and storytellers who have much in common with today’s filmmakers and even hip-hop artists. Further sessions will explore Roman holidays for men and women and the connections between love and war as well as staged readings and a public workshop about classical theater (no acting experience required). For further information about program locations and times visit http://dclibrary.org/ancientgreeks .