The Director writes...
Dionysos, disillusioned by the state of modern poetry, decides to travel down to the Underworld in order to bring back a poet of quality. He arrives on stage dressed as his half-brother Herakles and is accompanied by the long-suffering slave Xanthias who provides great comical relief throughout. The pair make their way down to the river Styx following the advice of Herakles and adventure ensues. We meet the chorus of frogs while Dionysos is crossing the Styx who challenge him to a contest of flatulence; Dionysos wins. On the other side, the chorus reappears as the happy mystic band who lead the travellers to the doors of Pluto’s palace. However, entry into the palace is not so simple. Since Dionysos is dressed as Herakles who stole Pluto’s guard dog on his last visit, his welcome is less than desirable. Terrified to face the consequences, Dionysos convinces Xanthias to swap clothes with him. What follows are two trials; one a farce to confirm Dionysos’ true identity and divinity, the other a weighing of verses by Aeschylos and Euripides to determine the best in the craft. The victor, Euripides in this version, claims the crown of best poet and ascends with Dionysos back to the world of the living.
I especially wanted to modernise this play and take the opportunity to reference current artists in hip-hop and rap. This not only made the play more accessible to our younger audience, but also added greatly to the comedy. Aeschylos and Euripides have a rap battle in the end to decide who takes the prize and the reaction from the students was worth altering the original. This also led to Euripides winning, which is not true to Aristophanes, but the audience was clear whose bars they preferred. The chorus stood out again this year and their chant of “brekekekex-koax-koax" was heard throughout the school for weeks after.
I followed the precedence from last year and used traditional Greek costume design but made from Malawian chitenje to contrast with the modernisation of the dialogue. The great poets, however, were given license to dress as they saw fit for their battle of verses. The play was a massive success and considered one the favourites by both the Drama Club and the student body.