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Calling all Actors, Designers, and Creatives—to participate in a staged reading of

The Gladiator
by Robert Montgomery Bird

Directed by Rob Groves

Friday, January 3, 2020

SCS/AIA Annual Meeting, Washington D.C.

The Committee on Ancient and Modern Performance's annual tradition of staged readings at the annual general meeting will continue this year with a production of an engaging example of Classical reception, Robert Montgomery Bird's 1831 retelling of the Spartacus story, The Gladiator!

“The Gladiator” is an important moment in American reception of the Classics. From the beginning, the founders saw and portrayed themselves as virtuous heroes from the Roman republic, like those whom they had read of in Plutarch and Livy, and created a nation devised largely after the lessons they learned from their studies of the Classics. By 1831, however, the founders’ compromises on the question of slavery had left the fate and the moral status of the nation in question and this play boldly asserts itself into the emergent controversy over abolitionism. If America is the new Rome, how are we, as Americans to understand the Spartacus story? Whom do we identify with: the traumatized elite Romans or the rag-tag band of self-sacrificing Freedom fighters? Are we like Spartacus in throwing off the chains of British imperial oppression? Or rather are we like Crassus in profiting off the pain, anguish and indignity of fellow human beings? As we continue to confront the uses of Classics to justify white supremacist ideologies, this production will consider how the American theater confronted related issues almost 200 years ago and how this might inform our continuing discussions about the state of our discipline. This production intends to highlight both the stirring melodrama of Bird's original play, and the parallels between Rome and the United States that the play evokes.

Interested actors from every background should join—no previous experience is required! There will be opportunities for silent roles as well. In addition, because this play confronts the issue of slavery (and therefore race) in America through the parallels of Rome, race will be considered in casting; we hope to cast actors of color, and especially black actors, in the roles of non-Romans. If you are a classicist of color, I ask you to please consider participating, even if acting is not normally a passion or a hobby. If you know a classicist of color please encourage them to consider participating as well.

Roles include:

  • ROMANS
  • Marcus Licinius Crassus, a Roman Praetor.
  • Lucius Gellius, a Consul
  • Scropha, a Quaestor
  • Jovius, a Centurion
  • Mummius, lieutenant to Crassus
  • Batiatus Lentulus, a Capuan Lanista
  • Bracchius, a Roman Lanista
  • Florus, son of B. Lentulus
  • Julia, niece of Crassus.

GLADIATORS AND NON-ROMANS

  • Spartacus, a Thracian,
  • Phasarius, his brother
  • Aenomaiis, a Gaul
  • Crixus, a German,
  • Other gladiators
  • A boy, son of Spartacus.
  • Senona, wife of Spartacus.

Rehearsals will take place all day on Thursday, January 2, with a read-through on the evening of Wednesday the 1st for all those who can make it.

In addition to actors, we are looking for volunteers interested in contributing their time and talents behind the scenes! If you're interested in graphic design, costume assistance, props, sound design, stage management, etc., let us know.

If you are interested, please express that interest by completing the google form here by September 15th! Questions? Feel free to contact Rob Groves at groves@email.arizona.edu.

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(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)