The Outreach Prize Committee is delighted to award the 2019 Outreach Prize of the Society for Classical Studies to Dr. Salvador Bartera, Assistant Professor of Classics and Dr. Donna Clevinger, Professor of Communication and Theatre at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. For the past five years, Professors Bartera and Clevinger have organized “Classical Week” at MSU, which includes a two-night run of an ancient comedy or tragedy and a colloquium about an aspect of the performance. This joint venture of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and the Shakouls Honors College showcases the interdisciplinarity of the event, in which Dr. Clevinger choreographs and directs the production, Dr. Bartera serves as dramaturge, and both collaborate on the colloquium.
These events are largely created by and for non-specialists. The actors are Honors College students, few of whom are either Classics or theatre majors, and all represent the campus’s diverse population. The colloquium, which brings in specialist scholars, is nonetheless pitched to a general audience. The play is the highlight of the Classical Week. In the past five years they have performed both tragedies and comedies, both Greek and Roman, including 2018’s Oedipus, which drew a crowd of about 400 attendees each night. All events are free and open to the public, and draw their audience not only from the campus community but also from all over Mississippi. Classical Week’s success and accessibility means that primary, secondary, and post-secondary educators from around the state regularly bring their students to this annual event.
We find that Drs. Bartera and Clevinger generously give their time to a project that embodies the best of outreach in our discipline. MSU Classical Week has significantly contributed to spreading interest in the Classics. It engages with and involves an under-served population, in a place with little public funding and numerous economic challenges. It reaches a tremendous and diverse audience, fostering community and exchanges around ancient drama — all for free.