On Thursday 24th October, GOTH held its official launch event at Walton Hall. The event celebrated the foundation of GOTH with an afternoon of dramatic performances followed by a wine reception.
The GOTH Launch opened with comments from GOTH Director Peg Katritzky, who talked about her experiences throughout her career of being inspired by the funding successes of others and wanting to pursue such opportunities to support her own interests. She particularly noted the recent great work of the Baron Thyssen Centre for the Study of Ancient Material Religion, another OU research centre established in 2018 that proved motivational for Peg when setting up GOTH. It was great to hear about how GOTH got started, and we’re all grateful to Peg for her hard work in seeking and securing funding for the research centre!
After this, we watched the first of two performances. The first performance was of an extract from The Orestes Project by By Jove Theatre Company. The performance was introduced by Christine Plastow, GOTH Committee Member and Associate Director of By Jove, who spoke about the company’s work with myths and stories from the canon and their interest in themes of gender and otherness in presenting new versions of these stories. She then introduced the audience to The Orestes Project, an ongoing collaboration with Nancy Rabinowitz from Hamilton College, NY. From the GOTH Launch programme:
The project explores the relationships among the children of the house of Atreus: Orestes, Electra, and Iphigenia, exploring how the traumas of their shared history play out after the mythic narrative is over. In particular, the project explores queer relationships: Orestes’ male ‘companion’ Pylades becomes his lover, Iphigenia explores her desire for her goddess rescuer Artemis, and Electra navigates her relationship with herself and her mother’s legacy. The performance is a work in progress, written and devised by the company, and combining text, music, movement, and other theatrical forms.
The afternoon’s second performance was presented by Pavel Drábek and student actors from the University of Hull. Prof Drábek introduced the performance, The Amazonians, which was an extract from Aphra Behn’s The Young King, or The Mistake presenting tragicomic scenes of female warriors and mistaken identities. From the GOTH Launch programme:
A selection of scenes adapted from Aphra Behn’s The Young King, or The Mistake (c1679), a Fletcherian tragicomedy inspired by La Calprenède’s Cléopâtre (1646), Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata (1581), and Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s La vida es sueño (c1631). For this performance we have worked with Janet Todd’s edition from The Works of Aphra Behn (vol. 7; London: William Pickering, 1996). A longer version of this play will be performed at the University of Hull on 1–2 November 2019 by first year students as part of the Gulbenkian Careers and Employability Festival and as an outcome of the Approaches to Theatre 1 module.
Attendees commented on how much they enjoyed both performances: the first was comtemplative and intimate, while the second was funny and fast-paced. All the performers did a fantastic job with the material, especially in a small and unconventional performance space.
After the performances, we were visited by Ian Fribbance, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, who congratulated all involved on the launch of GOTH and commented on the necessity of research in the important areas of gender and otherness, particularly at the Open University with its large and diverse student and staff body. We then all enjoyed a celebratory drinks reception, and raised a glass to the success of GOTH!
Thanks to all who attended the GOTH Launch. You can view the full programme from the event here.