Staging Oedipus Rex

23 09 2010

The story of Oedipus Rex never fails to inspire feelings of shock and disgust, nearly three thousand years after it was written. However, much of the play has been pared down to the gist, “This was a man who murdered his father and married and had children by his mother”. One of the best examples of Greek tragedy is reduced to psychoanalysis and most of the play’s powerful language is lost.

It is against this background that we study Oedipus Rex through the methods of dramatic reading-aloud and scene re-enactment. These activities will enable the students to explore the complexities of the language of the play and the logistics of the stage.

The particulars of the performance assessment are as follows:

1) Each literature circles group will be assigned a scene to re-enact in the classroom (the following scenes have been selected for re-enactment: First Episode, Second Episode, Third Episode and Fourth Episode). (If the schedule permits, the teacher has the option indicate a given outdoor location in school (i.e. patio, by the steps of the HS Chapel, etc.). These locations will simulate – if only in a drastically scaled down version – the outdoor locales where the Greeks first staged their classical dramas.

2) Each group shall then study their scene for the emotion and motivation involved in character portrayal, set-up, entrances, exits and blocking; moreover, they shall add background music to heighten the mood of the scene.

3) The students are evaluated on the following: conveyance of the appropriate mood (as seen in the acting and voice projection and expression), use of props and costumes and application of appropriate background music. This exercise is performed as a method to enable the students to develop a more heightened sense of the play’s overall mood and emotion and to connect, on a deeper level to the characters in the play.

(The assigning of episodes to the groups shall be done in class; the other scenes such as the prologue, choral odes and epilogue shall be read aloud in class).

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