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Call for Papers – Ancient Drama in Chicagoland

CAMP Panel, 2021 SCS Meeting in Chicago, IL

Organizer: Krishni Burns, University of Illinois, Chicago

This panel seeks to explore the adaptation and production of modern drama within a limited scope of the city of Chicago in order to delve deeply into the challenges and rewards of delivering ancient productions in a specific modern culture context. One of the challenges of producing ancient drama on the modern stage is making the theatrical experiance accessible and relevant to audiences far removed from the audiences of the ancient world. Sometimes the process leads adapters to make substantial changes to the original works, and sometimes the productions themselves are pushed to deliver innovative choices that bring out unrealized nuances. Recently, Depaul University’s theater department produced a version of Robert Icke’s Oresteia that kept the original’s ending yet completely changed the cycle’s main theme. Likewise, Court theater’s ongoing production of the Theban Cycle speaks to the black experience of the Deep South and the Great Migration to Chicago. The results of these modern productions are always richly rewarding and help to illuminate both the ancient text and the modern experience.

The Society for Classical Studies’ annual meeting in 2021 will be held in Chicago, so the panel will take advantage of the myriad of cultural resources available within Chicago’s active theater community. The panel will invite classical scholars of theatrical performance to present, along with directors, adaptors, and dramaturgs of recent classical themed productions. As a result, it will present a multifaced view of ancient theatrical performance that is seldom available to the SCS community. Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • Historic productions of classical plays in Chicago (Ex: Hull-House’s productions of The Return of Odysseus in 1899 and Ajax in 1903)
  • Recent adaptations of classical plays that have appeared in Chicago
  • New classically themed plays that débuted in Chicago
  • Production choices that have particular meaning within the context of Chicago
  • Challenges in producing classical plays in Chicago
  • Productions and production choices that reflect the theatrical tradition of Chicago (Ex: Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses)
  • Films that make use of ancient drama to explore Chicago’s history and identity

Abstracts should follow the SCS guidelines for individual abstracts and can be sent by email to Wilfred Major at Abstracts received by April 15th will receive full consideration. Please ensure that the abstracts are anonymous. In accordance with SCS regulations, all abstracts for papers will be read anonymously by the panel organizer, who will serve as referee. Those selected for the panel will be informed by April 18th. Please address any questions to Krishni Burns (