Monday, April 30, 2012

Realism at Hull House....Chicago Greeks Produce "The Return of Odysseus" (includes names of Greek actors) - article in Chicago Daily Tribune, December 7, 1899


Published in the Chicago Daily Tribune, December 7, 1899

REALISM AT HULL HOUSE
-----
Audience Yells at Sham Knockout
in Homeric Play
-----
Chicago Greeks Produce "The Return
of Odysseus" with Such a Spirit the
Audience Gasps and Applauds -
Climax is the Boxing Match - Will Be
Given Tonight and Tomorrow -
Kissing Poster Causes More Talk at
Evanston About Student Drama.

Chicago Greeks reproduced scenes from ancient Hellenic life last night at Hull House.  And they threw into the performance a realism that brought the audience to its feet with cheers.  The climax came in the scene where two Phaeacian nobles box before Odysseus.  Both were cestl and the exhibition drew yells of applause from the audience.  It was as spirited as a six-round bout at Tattersall's and when the six-foot Phaeacian went down and took ten seconds the audience gasped, so real was the apparent knockout.  Not till the actor reappeared in the next scene could many believe the fight was a sham.

The play was called "The return of Odysseus" and was an arrangement of six Homeric episodes by Miss Mabel Hay Barrows of Boston.  The play will be repeated tonight and tomorrow night.  The first night audience was composed of large numbers of the Greek colony with instructors from the University of Chicago, Lake Forest, and Northwestern and some ministers and other professional men.

The cast of the play was:

Odysseus......Demetrius Manussos
Telemuchus.....Soterius Georgiades
Alelnous, King of Phaeacia......Panagiotis Lambros
Laodamas.......Soterius Georgiades
Hallus........Vasillos Zeros
Clytoneus........Demetrius Glanacopulos
His sons.
Echeneus, a Phaeacian Councilor.....Georgios Anastasopulos
Euryalus...........Elias Condaxopoulos
Amphiaius...........Herakles Athanasopoulos
Eintreus...........Vasilios Georgopoulos
Phaeacian athletes.
Penelope..........Mavilla Mparos
Athene, disguised as Mentes.......Constantinos Anargyros
Circe...........Amalie Mastro-Valerio
Arete, Queen of Phaeacia........Mavilla Mparos
Nausicaa, her daughter.........Helen Tsoromokon

Substitutes for Greek Women.
The men of the cast were native Greeks, but it was found impossible to cast the women's parts in the same way.  Some of the Grecian damsels were Greek boys and others, without speaking parts, were American girls.  Miss Barrows herself, as Mavilla Mparos, was Penelope and Arete, Queen of Phaeacia, while other of the Greek women were Italians.

The play developed an etymological discussion for the scholors.  The Greeks refused to use the scholastic pronunciation of Erasmus and insisted upon reading the Homeric verse without metrical inflection, with the pronunciation of modern Greece.  There was no attempt at retaining Greek ideas of dramatic unity and little at giving a Greek play.  What was presented was a series of brilliantly colored Homeric pictures, pantomime of dignity, and dialogue of force and dramatic strength.  The series of stage pictures presented was remarkable.  The reeks displayed just the amount of composure to give dignity to the statuesque mural effects and the amount of mobility to give grace and animation to their action.

The Greeks, it seemed from the audience, had forgotten the passage of nearly 3,000 years.  Their spirit was in their lines and their actions.  Their dances were modern Greek and their boxing had the atmosphere of the Marquis of Queensberry rules, but the scholars who saw the play said it had a value which the more technically correct representations of Greek plays given by college students have lacked.  It was the modern Greek idea of what ancient Greek was.



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