Have You Had Your Greek Drama Lately?

When I was in high school, I was taught the alpha and the omega of Greek drama was Oedipus Rex. The sun rose and set on Sophocles and that was that. Onto [awful modern novel to meet racial/sexual/cultural sensitivity issues].

When I took other general Lit courses in college, I was taught that once you've read Sophocles, you've read all there is to read in Greek drama. It's just variations of the same things. Onto "The Yellow Wallpaper"* or Leaves of Grass.

Then I signed up for a Greek drama class to meet a pre-1800s requirement that apparently wasn't satisfied by any of the other pre-1800s Lit courses I took at my current and previous schools. Eye opening experience to say the least.

From the bizarre and disturbing imagery of Aeschylus to the rapid-patter pace of Euripides, there's clearly a lot to be explored. YouTube, of all places, is a wealth of resources on the matter.

For example, there are plenty of filmed adaptations of various plays that never really received a release in the US and are available online. Legal issues aside, it's brilliant to watch, say, Irene Papas play Euripides's Electra in a gorgeous black and white from 1962.

Or what of the scariest filmed adaptation of a stageplay I've ever seen, Aeschylus's Oresteia set to music by the National Theatre of Great Britain, complete with unmoving masks and period-esque costuming?

Even educational material is made more interesting by YouTube, with slightly more legal projects like History of Theatre.

So have you experienced some Greek drama today? Or recently? Or anything not named Oedipus Rex? Isn't about time?

*Oh goodie! I can embed Google Books now. Allegedly. I just saw it as an option and have to test it eventually. You've been warned.

Film Review: The Road (2009)

Pro/Con: Memphis: A New Musical