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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Weber State University Honors Program & Department of Performing Art - Greek Readers Theatre presents Aristophanes´ "The Wasps" - Tuesday, 18 September 2012 @ 1:30 pm

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 court system.

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.

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