Performing Fragments

This site is about ‘lost’ plays, mainly ancient Greek ones, and the possibilities that a few of them present for performance today.

In the fifth century BCE alone, as many as nine hundred tragedies may well have been performed in Athens along with some three hundred satyr plays. Just over thirty of the former have survived along with one of the latter. As for comedies, around four hundred must have been produced in Athens during that same century, of which we now possess a mere nine. Three or four comedies survive from the fourth century BCE, and possibly one tragedy. But apart from these few surviving complete plays, the fragmentary scraps of many more have come down to us. In the case of a few such ‘lost’ plays,  enough traces exist to give rise to the possibility of performance – or at least of some some kind of performance.

But what kind of performance? A ‘lost’ play is not a complete play. How is it possible to perform fragments?

This  site contains the results of several years of practical research on this question, results which should be of interest to students of classics and of theatre.

Some of these results are texts for performance (playable scripts based on, incorporating or closely related to fragments). Others are ideas (theoretical reflections) about what it means to perform fragments or about the context of ancient drama.

Nearly all of them are included here as pdf files, so you can open them online or download them as you wish. If you wish to stage any of these texts, or if they stimulate you to devise similar or related work of your own, please let me know. (Full written permission is required for any performance of Austerity – a long-lost play by Aristophanes.)

My own fascination with fragments is described in Why Fragments?  Fortunately, I’ve had the chance to work on workshop productions of several fragmentary plays with some very energetic and talented students through my teaching on the College Year in Athens program. To sample the dramatic possibilities of some of these fragments, go to hors d’oeuvres, which provides a brief selection from the texts for performance.

One Response to Performing Fragments

  1. Loretta Johnson says:

    Great site. Loretta

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