Greco-Roman Festival: Toga! Toga! Toga! at Middlebrook

It was a toga party at Middlebrook School, as the sixth grade yellow team presented  a Greco-Roman Festival.

John Belushi’s famous character, Bluto, from the 1978 movie Animal House was nowhere to be found. However, Brutus was there, in the play Julius Caesar.

The festival kicked off in the auditorium, where the team performed in front of an audience that included family and fellow students. Narrators Julianna Hume and Nicholas Koenigsberger introduced five different plays, beginning with Agamemnon.

The first part of the trilogy Oresteia, it is known to be one of the greatest Greek tragedies. At Middlebrook, the play, along with the subsequent performances, were adapted into much shorter editions of roughly 10-15 minutes.

The Furies followed, which is another portion of the trilogy. Both plays, written by Aeschylus, were first performed in Athens in 458 B.C.

New to the stage was Stephen Batter, who played the role of Orestes. He had never performed in front of audience prior to this experience.

“I was really nervous”, he said. “All of the parents and other faces looking at us was a lot. I was surprised I got this big of a part.”

The mood turned less serious with the introduction of Pandora’s Box. The Greek myth follows the titular character and her resistance (or lack of) to open a package given to her. Upon opening it, evil is spread everywhere. The audience laughed watching the 6Y team perform as the students interacted with one another.

“It’s fun for me,” said Alex Stroup, who played Epimetheus. “I’ve done theater for all my life. I’ve done plays at Wilton Children’s Theater.”

Eventually Hope, played by Bethany Eason, comes to save the day and return peace to Earth.

Next up was Romulus and Remus, as the action shifted to Roman mythology. Zee Eusebe and Michael Angerame amused spectators with their on-stage actions as the mythical twins brothers.

Lastly, Julius Caesar got a turn, as the 6Y team took a stab at the William Shakespeare classic, believed to be written in 1599. Focusing on Caesar’s assassination and the conspiracy surrounding him, the play features some of the more famous quotes in literary history, and the students had no problem giving them proper justice.

“This has been an outgoing tradition at Middlebrook School as a tribute to the Greeks who invented drama and theater and had the first plays” teacher Luisa Nanos said. “This is the first year it was a totally student-run production. All 117 kids on the team have to do it.”

Students could be found at every turn: aiming the spotlight, providing narration, and in the control booth.

“For some of them it’s really their only experience on the stage,” Ms. Nanos added.

“This is what’s most memorable to them. Students come back from seventh and eighth grade and they remember the show. Some of them sneak in to watch it and they remember when they were on the stage.”

For actors, the after-show party is a grand tradition. To that end, parents and students added to the merriment by creating Greek and Roman dishes that stretched from appetizers to dessert.

“I just had a cannoli,” Stephen said as he and Alex basked in the glow of a fine performance among their friends.

Speaking about the experience, Alex said, “It’s taking you back to ancient Greece and ancient Rome. We had a lot of time to prepare even though it was only three weeks.”

“It’s been an overall great experience,” Stephen said.