Classic satire of 'Frogs' still rings true today
Theater students at Seton Hill University open the curtain on a new season by tackling a centuries-old comedy and political satire with messages that still ring true today.
“The Frogs,” by ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, translated by Ian Johnston, is a crowd-pleaser that should leave audiences laughing, according to director Denise Pullen, an associate professor of theater and dance. And, in this presidential election year, she hopes the political messages will motivate patrons to vote.
Set during a time of turmoil in ancient Greece, “The Frogs” takes place in Athens, which has just lost a battle against the Spartans. Dionysus, the god of theater and wine — played by Kelsey Riker, a freshman musical-theater major from Douglassville — decides that only a playwright can bring peace to the country. Dionysus travels to the Underworld to bring the best one back from the dead.
In Hades, playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides stage a poetry competition, and Dionysus must choose the winner.
“We've set up the poetry competition between the playwrights as a cook-off, letting the chorus provoke the ‘studio audience' into offering up their own opinions,” Pullen says.
It's not an easy script for theater students, who have been researching the references to mythology and Greek politics and culture to interpret its message. And, there's language that isn't always clear.
“The text is nothing like I have ever experienced before. It is written in verse and has many ancient Greek references that we had to look up in order to understand,” says Gabriella DeCarli, a sophomore musical-theater student from DuBois and a member of the chorus.
Riker agrees that speaking in verse is a difficult part of the production, which also requires a great deal of stamina from the actors.
Andrew Meholick, a senior theater-performance major from Reynoldsville, portrays Aeschylus. He says the cast is working very hard to comprehend the classic Greek comedy and make the show one that audiences will enjoy.
“Everyone involved with the production is making new discoveries nightly. We want to share that experience,” he says.
The director says her students are having a good time working on “The Frogs.”
“The physical demands of this play and the challenge of the verse have kept things exciting,” Pullen says. “Staging the Greeks is in many ways like staging a musical — with dance and movement, chants, bold-stroke characters, pratfalls, poetry. It's been a lot of work and a lot of laughs.”
Candy Williams is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh hires consultant, former Wisconsin police captain as chief
- Retail theft suspect takes off, leaves baby at Rostraver Township Walmart
- Trac Fabrication all-terrain wheelchairs open world for disabled
- Unlike years past, strength of 2014 Steelers could be offense
- Steelers Lookahead: Previewing Sunday’s game vs. Cleveland
- Regulators release details of Highmark’s post-UPMC transition plan
- Bethel Park mortgage broker pleads guilty
- Tomlin: Steelers preparing to face both Browns QBs
- Wedding aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper ends in arrests
- More pipelines proposed to carry Marcellus gas to southeast markets
- Ferrante jury to come from Allegheny County