Students’ Interest in Theatre and Gender Roles Leads Them to Ancient Greece
Fourteen Kent State University students participated in an eight-day, education-abroad trip to Greece sponsored by the university’s School of Theatre and Dance during spring break. The program, described as an experience of “Theatre, Performance, Gender and Sexuality,” was led by faculty members Daniel Nadon and Yuko Kurahashi.
In many ways, the eight days spent in Greece was a trip back in time. The study group visited numerous ancient Greek sites associated with the theatre, including the Acropolis, Delphi, the Theatre Dionysus and the outdoor theatre of Epidaurus, which is admired around the world for its symmetry, beauty and exceptional acoustics, as well as its antiquity.
“Our intention of the program was to explore ancient and modern notions of sexuality, gender, theatre and culture,” explains Nadon. “During the trip, we continued our research begun in class, which ranged from sound effects in ancient Greek theatre to masks, jewelry and costumes used during ancient performances. Having the ability to perform the research directly on the grounds where many of these practices originated proved invaluable for our students.”
“These (education-abroad) programs are more than just field trips,” Nadon adds. “They are immersive educational experiences unlike anything a student can get in a classroom.”
During their eight days in Greece, the study group pursued an aggressive schedule. In all, the group attended three innovative shows at the National Theatre of Greece; participated in tours and lectures at several museums; toured the ruins at Delphi, Mycenae and Epidaurus; and engaged in workshops at the Theatre Dionysus and the University of Athens.
Just as important as their academic research was the students’ immersion into the unique culture of Greece and its welcoming people.
“During our short visit to Athens and the other ancient cities, the students also made cross-cultural friendships and professional connections, which we believe will continue and develop in the coming years,” says Kurahashi, who in previous years had led education-abroad programs for the school to study the history of the London theatre.
On the final day of the trip, following a bus ride back to Athens from Delphi, the students commenced an impromptu tour of the city. Although dedicated primarily to last-minute shopping and dining, the final night’s tour also gave the students time to reflect on the previous seven days and the lifetime of sights, sounds and experiences they had shared. Although they were eager to get back home to friends and family, each felt a small pang of reluctance, as they realized that there was so much more yet to experience – so much more yet to learn.
The student participants were Sara Ben-Bella, Dalton Brown, Marissa Davis, Jacob Glosser, Zahra Hakki, Zoe Harr, Britteny Harrell, Eileen Janis-Larson, Courtney Kennell, Alex Norman, Cordell Ramsey, Kiki Schumann, Dana Shunkwiler and Maggie Turek.