Shrewsbury School

Sent to Coventry – what a tragedy!

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Seven Upper Sixth pupils studying Classical Civilisation went to the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry last Friday for a day of lectures on Greek Tragedy, organised by the Classics Faculty of Warwick University.

The day focused specifically on Euripides’ masterpiece ‘Medea’ and culminated in a performance produced by undergraduates.

The play is a set text for this year’s A level and confronts the ancient, yet timeless and current issues of gender, feminism, ethnicity, betrayal and revenge. Not for the faint-hearted, it culminates in Medea killing her own children in order to punish her errant ex-husband Jason. Not many laughs, granted, but powerful and provocative it undoubtedly is; almost 2,500 years old, yet it still delivers a dramatic punch which leaves audiences feeling pity and terror – just as Aristotle wrote they should.

The day was divided into four sections: an introductory talk by Dr Michael Scott, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History, on the play’s unique position in the tragic canon of surviving works; a lecture from a Harvard graduate on women in Fifth century Athens; after lunch,  the pupils had a taster of what a university seminar will be like – for most in a matter of months – and were challenged to think about the difficulties encountered in how we respond to Euripides’ text; and to finish the day, we were treated to a well-paced and projected performance of the play by Warwick students.

The day was useful not only in terms of A-level study, but also because it gave our boys and girls a taste of what to expect a formal lecture to be like in Higher Education.

Thanks to Mr Fitzgerald for organising.

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