Few subjects can generate the same emotional response as war. And few storytellers can so eloquently and powerfully describe the impact of conflict as the Greeks. For its seventh annual Dionysia, the University of Houston’s Center for Creative Work (CCW) will explore past and present wars through a new interpretation of Thucydides’ “History of the Peloponnesian War.”
Each year, Dionysia celebrates the Greek Classics while addressing issues facing contemporary society. The event revisits ancient yet influential works through dramatic performances and artistic input from UH Honors College faculty and students.
This year’s event explores “The City at War – A Possession for All Time.” This reinterpretation of Thucydides’ work was written by John Harvey and includes stories from UH faculty, students and guests. It also will include excerpts from works by Ablert Camus, Simon Weill, Leo Tolstoy and other authors. The performance is directed by guest artist Chanelle Benz and features a chorus – or chroniclers – who present orations addressing war through the ages.
“Thucydides’ work can be used to understand how human respond to war … until the moment humane nature changes,” Harvey said. “This work allows me to incorporate the works of other chroniclers of war including Russian poet Anna Akhmatova and WWI poet Wilfred Owen.”
Complementing the performance is a soundscape created by guest artist Jonathan Harvey (no relation to John Harvey) that will project sounds of the sea, human lamentations, songs from different eras and other effects.
In addition to the dramatic performances and readings of “The City at War – A Possession for All Time,” Dionysia will deliver panels focused on topics related to cities – particularly Houston. Discussions will address humanities, medicine and energy and will feature experts from both academia and industry.
A complete schedule of Dionysia events is as follows:
- 5:30 p.m., April 16 – Stories from UH faculty, students, guests (Honors College Commons – second floor of UH M.D. Anderson Library)
- 7:30 p.m., April 17 – Performance of “The City at War – A Possession for All Time” (Honors College Commons)
- 7:30 p.m., April 18 – Performance and Humanities and the City panel (Honors College Commons)
- 7 p.m., April 19 – Reading presented by student journal Aletheia “New Voices on War” (Honors College Commons)
- 7 p.m., April 20 – Performance and Medicine and the City panel (Student Center Theater)
- 7:30 p.m., April 22 - Performance of “The City at War – A Possession for All Time” (Khon’s – 2808 Milam St.)
- 7 p.m., April 28 – Performance and Energy and the City panel (Student Center Theater)
Past Dionysia events have featured performances of classics such as “The Odyssey,” “The Iliad,” “The Frogs,” “Agamemnon” and others. The event’s popularity has grown each year. Harvey attributes its appeal to the classics themselves and their commentary on man and society.
“There’s an enduring interest in these works and what they say to us,” Harvey said. “Our creative approach makes them new and shows how they adapt and change with the times. They also reveal quite a bit about us.”
Dionysia is among the events hosted by UH’s Center for Creative Work. As part of the Honors College, the center delivers coursework and academic programs focused on interdisciplinary arts. For more details on the center or Dionysia, visit the CCW website.
The Honors College at UH is a hub of excellence that serves the needs of gifted undergraduates in more than 100 fields of study and reflects the rich diversity of the University of Houston in its courses, faculty and students. For over 50 years, the Honors College has offered students the best of both worlds: the advantages of a small college together with the comprehensive resources and rich diversity of a large university. For more information about the Honors College, visit http://TheHonorsCollege.com.