Honors College production of ‘Phormio’ to headline MSU Classical Week

In the center of the hall, students decked out in togas and other traditional Roman attire address them in language and phrases that seem somewhat out of place today. The vaulted ceiling echoes their every word.

After the voices fade, the applause takes its place. It’s not time travel, though. They are simply the students of Shackouls Honors College at Mississippi State University preparing for Classic Week 2022.

Classic week, which is a celebration of Greek, Roman and other cultures of the ancient world, will see students stage a production of “Phormio”, a Roman comedy by Terence.

The cast and crew consist of 13 honors college students, the majority of whom are freshmen.

“The students were great at learning their lines and acting quickly since we only had a month to put on the play,” said Donna Clevinger, professor and lecturer at Honors College and director of the room. “They are talented, fun to work with, and represent a wide variety of majors across campus.”

Casting for the play took place shortly before classes began, and rehearsals began immediately after.

Despite the tight schedule, the experience was positive for the students involved.

“I have a lot of fun at rehearsals,” said freshman Alexander Ketzle, playing the lead role. “Phormio is such a hilarious character to play, and I think audiences will really enjoy that.”

Where Ketzle has four years of theater experience, Aaron Twietmeyer, also a freshman, has never worked on a play before.

He is the deputy director of production.

“Creating ‘Phormio’ was a great experience,” he said. “I’ve never been part of a theater production, so this process is very new and exciting.”

There will be two performances, Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 6 p.m. The play is free and will be held in the Zacharias Village Yard on the MSU campus, unless it is raining, in which case it will be moved to Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee. Hall.

The play revolves around two brothers, Demipho and Chremes, who live in Athens; each of them has a son, respectively Antiphon and Phaedria. The two return home from business trips to find some messy things.

The sons fell in love with Phanium and Pamphila, while their fathers were away, and the family servant, Geta, recruited the titular Phormio to help them.

According to Clevinger, little is known about the life of the playwright (Terence). He wrote six comedies and died relatively young.

His plays were staged in Rome in the 160s BC, and each was an adaptation of a comedy originally written in Greek.

“Phormio” was first performed in September 161 BC. AD during the Roman Games. The games were an annual festival honoring Juno, Jupiter, and Minerva.

The play’s script was translated by Clevinger and the play’s playwright, Anne Groton. They started the process in early spring of this year.

Clevinger is thrilled that audiences are seeing the fruits of the band’s labor.

“I believe the cast and production crew are one of the best groups I’ve worked with on a classic weeknight production,” she said. “I am very proud of these students and what they have accomplished in such a short time.”

Speaker Series
As part of the Classic Week celebrations, the Speaker Lecture Series will enter its fifth year.

The series is sponsored by the honors college and takes place three times a year. Speakers representing different disciplines on campus are invited to speak.

This year’s theme is “Family Secrets and Societal Roles: Finding Meaning in Human Connectedness”.

The first lecture will be given by the playwright of the play, Groton.

His lecture is titled “Living on the Edge: How Strangers Could, and Still Can, Find a Home in the Ancient Greek and Roman World.” According to Clevinger, the play serves as the backdrop for the conference.

Groton is a professor and chair of the classics department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. She is also a specialist in ancient Greek and Roman comedy.

His talk will be Thursday at 4 p.m. in the Forum Room, 401, at Griffis Hall.

The other two conferences of the year will take place on November 17 and February 15, 2023. The conferences are free.

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