Published on Apr 2, 2012
Aristophanes' "Clouds" was the first "comedy of ideas" ever performed on the Western stage. At a time when classical Athens was at its cultural and imperial height, Aristophanes introduced a new form of intellectual satire. First staged in 423 BCE, the "Clouds" transformed the received form of ribald and rambunctious comic theatre into an environment where society could examine its conscience and ponder the often absurd conclusions of the directions it chose to take.
This is the story of a country bumpkin, Strepsiades, who meets Socrates, the master of a new academy of science and sophistry called the Thinketerium. Strepsiades makes a Faustian bargain with Socrates, and his new pantheon of goddesses, the Clouds, to use the art of rhetoric to undermine the justice system and avoid bankruptcy. The result is a textbook tragedy played out in comic style.
Jeremy Swist, a recent graduate in Classics from UMaine, directs his very own translation of this ancient but eternally provocative play. Performed Readers Theatre-style, the language of this fresh rendering is designed to emphasize the continual relevance of the issues so humorously handled in the original Greek: the battles of science against religion, of the power of rhetoric against the righteous cause of justice, of democratic relativism against aristocratic absolutism. Yet despite the serious questions raised, this comedy will tickle the funny bones of all who attend.
Michael Howard as Socrates
Chris Mares as Strepsiades
Anthony Elkins as Phidippides
Zachariah Dewey as the Student of Socrates
Bruce Pratt as the Just Argument
Jeremy Swist as the Unjust Argument
Andrew Rasmussen as Pasias
Robert Causey as Amynias
with 'Ishah Price, Andrea Smith and Megan Aydelott as the Cloud Chorus.
Musical interludes by flautist Cassandra Alley and refreshments provided by Isabel Wieck.
Special thanks to the Department of Modern Languages & Classics and the Department of Philosophy for their sponsorship of this event.
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