Over the course of 14 weeks this spring, students in professor Rebecca Futo Kennedy’s advanced ancient Greek directed study class translated a 2,500-year-old play, The Bacchae by Euripides. Intrigued by the ancient drama, they put forward a request: Instead of writing a traditional research final paper, could they stage their own performance?

An enthusiastic “yes” in hand, the class marshaled their creativity and knowledge of ancient Greek and submitted what may be the best final ever of their college careers.

Emily Gryllakis ’24, Eliana Lazarro ’26, and Madeline Young ’25 crafted their own translation, adapting it to a nearly hour-long performance. They drafted volunteer actors and created costumes and marketing materials, including posters and a stunning playbill. Finally, they directed and produced The Bacchae.

They also came to thoroughly understand the text.

The Bacchae is a tragedy about the origin of the god Dionysus. He travels to his hometown, Thebes, in disguise as a mortal priest to take vengeance on King Pentheus, his disbelieving cousin. Dionysus arrives with a chorus of worshippers, the Bacchae, and casts a madness over the women of Thebes, who flee to the mountains to celebrate the sacred rites of the god. Pentheus is furious at the sudden arrival of these “strange” and frenzied women and aims to stop them — by any means necessary.

The performance was staged in Herrick Hall for the public on April 28, after only two rehearsals with their assembled cast. It was a rousing success, demonstrating the creative talents and skills of all students involved.

Full Cast:

  • Dionysus: Madeline Young Personae
  • Pentheus: Eliana Lazzaro
  • Tiresias and Agave: Emily Gryllakis
  • Cadmus: AJ Hartwick
  • Messengers: Nolan Felker
  • Guard: Alix Sanden


  • Mallory Hartsell
  • Emma Hall
  • Gabi Bany
  • Katherine Young
  • Mia Fischel
  • Aurora Hodar
May 10, 2024