After four years of ambitious spring performances of ancient Greek plays outdoors in the Montclair State Amphitheater adjacent to Kasser, the Montclair Greek Drama Group, as well as the individual play sites linked to there) decided this year to reach out and involve their audience in a “Dionysia” celebration. In 5th century BCE Athens, each year when the ice and storms of the winter were fading and the shipping lanes opened again, a week of art performances and ritual dance, athletics, and song celebrations centered on the city and its inhabitants, including prominently “resident aliens” and honorary citizens from other cities and lands around the Mediterranean.
To imitate the varied events of the Great Dionysia, a range of performances was included linked together by a script, which was mistress-minded by Caitlin Tarpey (’18) and Amelia Sanders (’21). The event included a celebratory opening procession through the stone seats of the Amphitheater and down to the stage area where grapes and grape soda were shared, as well as a spring sheet cake donated by the parents of the dancer, Amelia Sanders. After Dionysos (played by Dan Salazar ’18, in a wonderful pink boa!) proved too drunk to lead the ceremonies, Amelia attempted to wake him up with a little “Champagne” (an Isadora Duncan solo piece); then Persephone (Caitlin Tarpey) took over, and sang several songs–a cover from Hadestown by Anais Mitchell and Ani diFranco, an Irish drinking song, and a setting of the “Lament of Deirdre,” from an ancient Celtic epic. Dan Salazar contributed a monologue from Prometheus Bound; Amelia and Jeri Fogel performed two passages from Homer’s Odyssey in ancient Greek and the English translation of Emily Wilson; Liz Days, a NYC actor and stand-up comic, guest starred as Aphrodite, and performed a comic monologue from Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria. The finale was Isadora Duncan‘s “Bacchanal,” danced by Amelia Sanders, Quashierra Muhammad, Rebecca Seow, and Sabrina Petrelli. Amelia has studied and danced Duncan choreography for over nine years.