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During the summer of 2012, Sharon L. James co-directed the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on Roman Comedy in Performance with Tim Moore, PhD ’86. With the help of visiting faculty consultants, Profs. James and Moore lead 25 participants through the rough and tumble world of Roman Comedy. Together they created multiple performance versions of scenes from Plautus and Terence by experimenting with staging, actors, translation, choreography, and more. By doing so, they crafted an excellent series of videos that relates the ancient plays to our modern society.

Below Prof. Moore, John and Penelope Biggs Distinguished Professor of Classics in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, reflects on the institute.


Tim Moore

Q: What prompted you to co-direct the institute?

Tim Moore: I wanted to get a chance to see in practice how performance might affect how we interpret the plays of Plautus and Terence, especially the difficult scenes.  I was also eager to test some of my own theories about music in Roman comedy, and to work with Sharon.


Q: What was the greatest challenge you encountered? Was there anything surprising that occurred?

TM: The greatest challenge was keeping up with the scheduling, masks, props, and costumes for the many rehearsals and performance. The biggest surprise was how scenes could be both very funny and very disturbing at the same time.  I had thought there would be a dichotomy between funny and troubling: there is not.


Q: What was your favorite part or element of the institute?

TM: Its results: I’m incredibly proud of what the videos we made will do for the teaching of and scholarship on Plautus and Terence.


Q: What was it like working with so many folks from so many different academic and professional backgrounds? How did this affect the institute?

TM: This was a joy. It is always fun to hob nob with fellow Classicists, and I learned a great amount from the folks with other backgrounds, especially the theatre scholars.


Q: Has directing the institute and seeing the resulting performances altered the way you teach Roman comedy or approach it in your academic work?

TM: I use the videos, masks, and costumes in my teaching and lecturing, and I have new perspectives on what performance can do.