Cheney School

Cheney School

Year 8 Classics Dionysia Festival

Year 8 Classics Dionysia Festival

Year Eight Classics students put on a Dionysia Festival

Our third annual Dionysia Festival took place on 7 June at Corpus Christi  College's beautiful Auditorium.

Year Eight Classics students performed plays written by the ancient Greek comic playwright Aristophanes, who lived and wrote in Athens in the fifth century BC. They picked their favourite scenes from four of his plays, Frogs, Birds, Peace and Clouds, and designed their own costumes, props and set, as well as making short video trailers and posters. They also adapted the scripts to include references to contemporary politics and events. This year, to commemorate 100 years since women were able to vote in a general election for the first time in Britain, the groups adapted their plays to make reference in some way to women’s suffrage. You can watch the students’ trailers, see their posters, outlines and more on their class blog at

The Festival was opened by Professor Fiona Macintosh (Professor of Classical Reception, Fellow of St Hilda's College and Director of the Archives of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD))  who spoke about how Aristophanes had been used by the suffrage activists of the time to illustrate their arguments, and how Aristophanes' plays are always exploring the ways in which men and women interact with one another in society, as well as in the home.

The Year Eights then performed their varied and imaginative scenes. The groups had found all sorts of clever ways to bring in the theme of suffrage, as well as to update the plays more generally. In one version of 'Clouds', the figure Socrates, who runs his own thinkery, was replaced by Emmeline Pankhurst, and in a version of 'Frogs', where the god Dionysus complains that the city doesn't have any good poets anymore and goes to Hades to bring one back, the students updated this so that a suffragette goes to Hades to bring back the best activist! In the play 'Peace', Donald Trump had a starring role before being destroyed by a missile of his own making...

After some refreshments, we were very fortunate to have a short performance by storyteller Ben Haggarty, who gave a gripping rendition of the myth of Actaeon and Artemis. Professor Fiona Macintosh and Dr Marchella Ward (Archivist at the APGRD) then announced the winners of various categories, including best actor, best adaptation and best overall play, amongst others.

The plays were filmed by Qasim Alli, Classics Outreach Officer from the University of Oxford, so that they can be put into the University's Archives of Greek and Roman Drama.

The Year Eights did a wonderful job of performing, and had put an impressive amount of detail and creativity into their whole productions, from props to trailers!

We would like to thank Corpus Christi College for letting us use their auditorium, Professor Fiona Macintosh, Director of the Archive of Performances of Greek and Roman Drama (APGRD) and Fellow of St Hilda’s College, for opening the event and judging, and Dr Marchella Ward, Archivist and Researcher at the APGRD, for IT and Technical Support, and for judging and providing feedback.

Dr Robinson, Classics Centre