The Wasps Stings
Who: Weber State University Honors Program & Department of Performing Art
What: Greek Readers Theatre presents Aristophanes´ "The Wasps"
When: Tuesday, 18 September 2012 o 1:30 pm
Where: Hetzel-Hoellein Room, Special Collections
Weber State University Department of Performing Arts Greek Readers
Theatre presents Aristophanes´ "The Wasps," Tuesday, September 18, 1:30
p.m., in the Hetzel-Hoellein Room, Stewart Library. This is a free
performance and open to the public. The production is recommended for
mature audiences only and contains mature themes and language. The cast
is composed of WSU faculty, staff, students and members of the
community. This year´s script has been edited and adapted with updated
music by WSU theatre student and composer, Rick Rea.
Brief information and a synopsis of "The Wasps": It was produced at the
Lenaia festival in 422 BC, a time when Athens was enjoying a brief
respite from The Peloponnesian War following a one year truce with
Sparta. As in his other early plays, Aristophanes pokes satirical fun at
the demagogue Cleon but in The Wasps he also ridicules one of the
Athenian institutions that provided Cleon with his power-base: the law
courts. The plot is very thin. It is mainly a platform for comic bits
and jokes about local personalities and the deficiencies of the Athenian
To begin, men are guarding a sleeping `monster,´ their master,
Philocleon, who has an unusual disease: he is a phileliastes or a
"trialophile." In other words, he is addicted to the courts. Symptoms
include irregular sleep, obsessional thinking, paranoia, poor hygiene
and hoarding. Medical treatment has failed and now his son has turned
the house into a prison to keep the old man away from the law courts.
The father´s attempts at escape are barely defeated. The Chorus
arrives-old jurors who want to debate for Philoclean´s release.
Advantages of attend court include flattering attentions of rich and
powerful men who appeal to him for a favourable verdict, freedom to
interpret the law as he pleases since his decisions are not subject to
review, and his juror´s pay gives him independence. The son counters
that jurors are, in fact, subject to the demands of petty officials and
they get paid less than they deserve. These arguments have a paralysing
effect on Philocleon. The Chorus is won over.
Philocleon however is still not able to give up his old ways just yet so
his son offers to turn the house into a courtroom and to pay him a
juror´s fee to judge domestic disputes. A series of comic cases are
decided. Next, the old man goes to a party where he misbehaves and
brings down the wrath of friends and neighbors.The Chorus sings briefly
about how difficult it is for men to change their habits and it commends
the son for filial devotion.
This is the 12th year of the Greek Readers Theatre celebration of
Aristophanes´ comedies. His existing plays are listed below in the order
they were written and including the year they were performed at WSU.
Caril Jennings, the producer of this series, says, "My goal was to
present all of Aristophanes´ work before I die. This year we are
producing the last of his plays. Next year I´ll just start recycling the
scripts. He is always in style because there always seems to be a
surplus stupidity to be satirized!"
The Acharnians (425 BC) at WSU: A Separate Peace in 2008
The Knights (Equites) (424 BC) At WSU: The Suits in 2007
The Clouds (Nubes) (original 423 BC, uncompleted version from 419 BC - 416 BC survives) in 2010
The Wasps (Vespae) (422 BC), 2012
Peace (Pax) (first version, 421 BC) at WSU in 2006
The Birds (Aves) (414 BC) at WSU in 2003
Lysistrata (411 BC) at WSU in 2001 and again on 03/03/03
Thesmophoriazusae or Celebrating Women (first version, c. 411 BC) at WSU in 2009
The Frogs (Ranae) (405 BC) at WSU in 2002
Ecclesiazusae or The Assemblywomen (c. 392 BC) at WSU in 2005
Plutus/Wealth (second version, 388 BC) at WSU in 2011
In 2004 an original script, "The Apology of Michael Moore" by Peter Vernezze, was performed instead of an Aristophanes play.