History of the CDG
The Classics Drama Group was conceived in 1993 by Martin Boyne, at that time an instructor in the Department of Classical Studies and also in the Academic Skills Centre. His purposes were to provide an extra-curricular activity for students within the Department, to allow the students in the course on ancient drama (Classical Literature 100) the opportunity to watch (and evaluate) a Greek play in action, and to explore how an ancient play would respond to production in modern circumstances.
As his favourite dramatist was (and remains) Euripides, it was Euripides to whom he first turned in his initial production. Euripides raised (raises) the great issues (war, human nature, male and female, heroism and motivations, the relationship between humanity and gods). As he is also arguably the most "modern" and most accessible of the ancient dramatists, his Hippolytos was selected as the Group's first play.
One of Martin Boyne's principal concerns was to investigate the "authenticity" involved in staging an ancient play for a modern audience in a modern setting. The differences are on the surface immense: ancient plays were part of a large civic and religious festival, modern ones are usually played for much smaller groups, whose primary interest is entertainment.
Ancient plays employed the rule of three actors who shared parts, modern plays usually assign one actor per role; ancient plays involved choruses of 12 or 15 or 24 who sang, danced, and often possessed a major role within the play, modern audiences and directors often find the chorus an embarrassment or a puzzlement; ancient tragedies were versions of well-known and established myths, modern spectators often need the story explained for them.
For the Classics Drama Group, "authenticity" consisted in conveying "the author's monumental theme, one with which the modern-day audience can relate just as much as the audience 2,500 years ago."