Mississippi State University freshman Dalton Acree, bottom center, is surrounded by fellow freshmen, from left, Nolan Ivey, Daniel Sieja and Dylan Bufkin as they rehearse for "The Pot of Gold." Free outdoor shows will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at MSU's Griffis Hall Courtyard at Zacharias Village. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
September 23, 2017 10:02:35 PM
Playwrights have been at their craft far longer than most credit. Titus Maccius Plautus is thought to have penned "The Pot of Gold" between 200 and 192 B.C. Numerous centuries later, a troupe of young thespians at Mississippi State will resurrect Plautus' tale of a stingy old man who barely trusts himself, let alone others. The production is part of Shackouls Honors College Classical Week 2017, a celebration of Greek, Roman and other cultures of the ancient world. As in years past, the Griffis Hall Courtyard at Zacharias Village on MSU's campus will serve as a backdrop for this Roman comedy.
"The free outdoor shows begin at 6 p.m., and we invite everyone to bring a chair or blanket to sit on and bring food to eat, too," said director Donna L. Clevinger, professor and senior faculty fellow in the Honors College.
The production's cast and crew includes 10 first-semester freshmen making their university stage debut. All are honors students and represent majors ranging from business and STEM to arts and sciences, Clevinger said.
Very little is known about Plautus, born in Sarsina in central Italy in 254 B.C. What has been pieced together suggests a varied background on and behind the stage, in foreign trade and as a soldier in the Roman army. His last years were devoted to writing hundreds of plays, making him what many believe was the most successful comic playwright of Roman theater.
In "The Pot of Gold," a miserly Euclio finds a pot of gold buried in his house. He rehides the treasure and guards it with great fear and anxiety. When a young man named Lyconides seduces Euclio's daughter and a neighbor asks for her hand in marriage, twists ensue, much to the audience's entertainment.
A Bridge Initiative Grant from the Classical Association of the Middle West and South helped defray costs of this production which is part of MSU's Lyceum Series.
On Thursday, the Honors College also presents a public lecture, "Laughing with the Romans: Plautus Onstage," at 2 p.m. in the Griffis Hall Forum Room. It features humanities scholars Michael Fontaine, professor of classics at Cornell University; Timothy Moore, the John and Penelope Biggs distinguished professor of classics at Washington University in St. Louis; and Salvador Bartera, assistant professor of classics at MSU. Clevinger will moderate the event made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council through support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
A reception to meet the speakers follows the free lecture open to the public. For more information, contact the Honors College, 662-325-2522.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.