By Janet I. Martineau
Starting this weekend, Saginaw Township’s Zauel Library, 3100 N. Center, is going Greek.
It is one of 100 public libraries, arts centers, theaters and museums across the United States participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities program titled Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: A National Conversation.
Through readings, lectures, workshops and performances, the series of free programs seeks to inspire people to read, see and think about classical literature and realize how it continues to influence modern-day American cultural life.
More than 40 scholars are participating in the program as well as members of the Aquila Theater, which tours classical plays across the U.S. In Saginaw, Wayne State University professor Jaclyn Dudek will become a familiar face as she leads four of the planned Saturday afternoon “War Is War” lecture programs at Zauel.
* 2pm April 14, “Theater of War: Culture, Myth and Drama of Ancient Greece,” discussing Homer’s Iliad, Jonathan Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam and poems by Wilfred Owen.
* 2pm April 28, “Shame and Honor: The Shattering of Normal,” discussing Sophocles’ Ajax and Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam.
* 2pm May 12, “Winning the War But Losing the Mission,” discussing the 1983 movie Agamemnon, directed by Peter Hall.
* 2pm May 19, “Homecoming: The Return of the Warrior,” discussing Homer’s Odyssey, the documentary Lioness about women in combat and Shay’s Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming.
Each session runs 90 minutes.
And on Tuesday, April 24, between three and seven members of the Aquila Theater will visit Zauel for a pair of programs. At 5:30pm they will offer an hour-long mask acting workshop and at 7pm staged readings of scenes from Greek drama.
Following the 90-minute staged reading, Dudek will lead a town-hall style discussion, encouraging audience members to share their impressions and experiences and discuss how to watch and appreciate Greek theater.
At Wayne State, Dudek teaches Etymology of English Words From Greek and Latin, Introduction to the Humanities and Introduction to Mythology. Other work includes literary translation of Greek and Latin texts, ancient theatrical staging and practice, and illustrating collections of ethnic and historical costumes.
Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives is the brainchild of Peter Meineck, who teaches classics at New York University and is the founder/artistic director of the Aquila Theater.
A former British Royal Marine in Britain, he told the Wall Street Journal he fell in love with Greek theater when he went to college and a professor linked his military service with Greek war heroes.
Since then, he said, he has been dedicated to proving that Greek literature “isn’t rarified and dusty; it still speaks to us today.”
Founded in 1991, his Aquila Theater performs classical theater off Broadway and through tours and educational programs to more than 70 underserved U.S. towns and cities each year.
Saginaw is only one of two Michigan towns participating in the three-year “Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives” odyssey across the United States; the other being Grand Rapids.
The lectures and mask acting workshop at Zauel has limited participation. Call 799-2771 to reserve a spot.
For more information, reading materials, podcasts and videos, log on to http://ancientgreeksmodernlives.org/
© Janet I. Martineau, 2012