Over the course of this pandemic, I think many of us have come to appreciate the challenges and pressures that surround teaching and education. Those of us with children have faced the daunting task of home schooling, while teachers have had to adapt their educational practices for the technologically demanding remote access world, bringing with it its own tricky demands of how to keep students engaged through the barrier of a computer or tablet screen. This difficult year has been a huge learning curve for us all, particularly for artists in the world of theatre, where live performance has had to adapt to the demands of these COVID times, but for many, has been put on hold entirely until restrictions are eased.
Yet, just as those in education have moved online, so too have many theatre makers and performers. While many have gone down the route of creating digital performances, what Bath based theatre company Moon House Theatre have done is a perfect example of why I love theatre; theatre’s power to connect and engage with our communities. Teachers have often seemed to be the forgotten front line workers of this pandemic. While many have moved online to teach their students, others have had to continue to have face to face contact in their school setting with students who are the children of key workers. Being a teacher is a difficult job at the best of times, but I certainly don’t envy anyone working in the education sector during this pandemic. So it is incredibly inspiring to see a theatre company like Moon House actively try to assist and support educators with a fun and informative web series like Get Your Greek On!
This six part series, available to watch for free via YouTube, offer bitesize episodes delving into different themes concerning Ancient Greek culture and customs. Every episode, running at roughly 10 minutes each, focuses on an aspect of Greek society from the pantheon of gods, to medicine, to theatrical customs, to how they dressed, to what kinds of music they created and listened to. The subjects are tackled with charmingly whimsical humour by the six presenters – Ellen Larson, Emily France, Odette Clark, Rob Bellamy, Laura Heybrock and Zoë Fawcett – intercut with some hilarious graphics and pop culture nods; I laughed out loud with unashamedly nerdy zeal at several points. This series certainly understands its young target audience, approaching topics which could very easily be made dry and tedious in a way that is both striking and fun.
Each episode comes with its own free teaching resource with some brilliant suggested activities for kids to follow, as well as the skeleton framework for a lesson plan to aid any teacher in need of some revitalising educational inspiration. Indeed, what makes this project stand out for me is the kind of skill sharing that has taken place in order for this series to germinate. Get Your Greek On! highlights the incredible power of theatre and the creative industries as a tool for learning and sharing ideas. What gets me excited about theatre is the fact that it provokes discussion, and Get Your Greek On! does exactly this, albeit in an intentionally didactic way. It is a wonderful thing to see a young theatre company proactively supporting its community by offering their resources to educators and youngsters, and in a very entertaining and high quality format.
Get Your Greek On! is a brilliant online teaching resource, but even if you’re not in education but fancy learning a bit more about Ancient Greek culture or want to brush up on your Class Civ knowledge, I would highly recommend this series – as much to chuckle at the meme worthy references as to learn your chiton from your peplos.