With the goddess, Iris, careening, in on roller skates and a chorus, grotesquely masked in ancient Greek dramatic fashion "trucking" out to the tune of modern Jazz-blues, the 20th century A.D. and the 5th century B.C. join hands as the Harvard Classical Club whips into final shape its presentation of Aristophanes' fantasy. "The Birds" to be given Friday and Saturday evening at 8 o'clock in Sanders Theatre.
Replete with Aristophanes' own lines in the original Greek just as it was written 2353 years ago during the "heyday" of the Athenian democracy, "The Birds" shows premise not only as a classical production but also bids fair as a modern musical comedy.
A chorus of 13 bedecked in feathers and representing birds of a mythical kingdom, "swings out" with a none too hospitable greeting to Aristophanes' two wandering Athenians who are searching for "some quiet, easy-going place where they can settle down and dwell in peace." After a struggle and a series of complications, Athenians and birds are finally united into "one big happy family" and the play ends with a marriage feast.
The play, pure fantasia, passes back and forth from satire to poetry. The masks and costumes seek to retain the comic realism of the ancient Athenian productions, and the lines give classical flavor to the whole.
No attempt, however, has been made to suggest the kind of music that would have accompanied the production in the fifth-century. It was written by Leonard Bernstein '39 who not only directs the chorus but also has organized and directs the orchestra accompanying the play.
The four principal parts of Peisthetairos, Euelipedes. The Hoopoe or King of the Birds, and the leader of the chorus are taken respectively by Donald B. Davidson '39, Louis J. Dunham, Jr.'20, Hamuel P. Goddard, Jr.,'41, and Frederic Peachy, 1G.
Supervising the direction of the production are Dr. Charles T. Murphy '31, Instructor in Greek and Latin and Dr. Laurence B. Leighton '33, Instructor in Greek and Latin. In charge of costumes and properties is Dr. Alan McN. G. Little, Instructor in Greek and Latin and managing business in Dr. Gerald F. Else '29, Instructor in Greek and Latin.