The Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA), as part of the University of Sydney, will be hosting a two-day conference on Greek theatre in the fourth century BC.

The conference, titled ‘Death of Drama or Birth of an Industry? The Greek Theatre in the Fourth Century BC’ will feature various guest lecturers, historians and archaeologists from all over Australia and the world. A highlight of this conference will be Greek archaeologist Dr Christina Papastamati von Moock of the Greek Ministry of Culture who will be talking about the theatre and sanctuary of Dionysos on the south slope of the Athenian Acropolis.

Professor Peter Wilson, William Ritchie Professor of Classics, University of Sydney, told Neos Kosmos that this conference has been on the cards for a long time and has finally come to fruition.

“The University of Sydney has had for a very long time, a very strong concentration on research expertise on the history of Greek theatre, going back a number of generations. “At the moment, myself and a number of colleagues of mine are running a project into the early history of the theatre, in particular the spread of the theatre from Athens out into the wider Greek and beyond the Greek world. So the very earliest phases of the incredible expansion of the Greek theatre as a cultural phenomenon from the fifth and fourth century on.

“So this conference really grew out of a strong perceived need to look at that first big phase, which is after the great classical period of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes, the century immediately following them, which is really when the theatre took off as an institution. It’s interesting that most people switch off in the history of the Greek theatre at the end of the fifth century when all the famous names of poets have gone, but as a part of the wider Greek world, and as an industry, it really explodes at that point and there are hundreds of theatres all around the Greek world starting to be built in the fourth century. So we focus on the fourth century for that academic reason and we just brought together a whole series of experts from around the world looking at the various sub-categories of evidence and issues arising out of that.”

The conference also features international guest lecturers such as: Hans Rupprecht Goette, Deutsches Archaologisches Institut, Berlin who will present the talk ‘Archaeology of the Rural Dionysia’; Professor Brigette Le Guen, University of Paris 8, who will present the talk ‘Theatre and Politics at Alexander’s Travelling Royal Court’; and Robert Pitt, Assistant Director, The British School at Athens, who will present the talk ‘Theatres and the Ancient Construction Industry’.

The conference will take place on Tuesday 19 July until Wednesday 20 July at the University of Sydney, Level 4, Madsen Building, F09.