ClassicsFest 7th – 9th March 2024

Welcome to ClassicsFest, an exciting pilot project to present a new cultural festival in North East England, exploring the voices of the ancient Greeks and Romans through the lens of artists, thinkers and academics of now.

For three days in March (Thursday 7th – Saturday 9th) and straddling International Women’s Day, ClassicsFest at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle, in collaboration with the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University, will present an open access programme curated by Cinzia Hardy, including performances, presentations and talks focussing on the universal theme of women and love in the ancient world. This will be explored using Heroides (The Heroines) by the Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – AD 17) as inspiration. Heroides is a series of poems in the form of letters from female characters (from the work of Homer and others) to mythical heroes.

Two thousand years ago, Ovid’s project was to take these ancient stories, evolved from oral cultures across the Middle East and Mediterranean and seemingly known from childhood to every Roman, and to put their side-lined heroines centre stage with a series of imaginary letters. It’s typical of Ovid – the wittiest, naughtiest, cleverest writer of his age – that he should spot the chance to express himself through these lesser-told aspects of well-known myths. Forget Theseus – let’s hear from Ariadne. Never mind Ulysses’ journey – what about Penelope? Ovid’s letters sound very much like dramatic monologues in which one can hear the women’s voices – which is why we are spotlighting four contemporary retellings of the letters in the form of dramatic monologues, by contemporary writers, performed by professional actors and speaking to audiences of today. These are ancient stories, reinvented and retold for millennia. We present the next link in the chain of storytellers stretching back to the past, and on into the future.

All events are free but must be booked unless otherwise stated.

ClassicsFest is made possible by the generous support of The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland – Newcastle Culture Investment Fund; The David Family Foundation; Sir James Knott Trust; and The Classics FEC committee of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the Engagement and Place fund of Newcastle University.

To book please click EVENTS or contact the library on 0191 232 0192.

ClassicsFest is made possible by the generous support of The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland – Newcastle Culture Investment Fund; The David Family Foundation; Sir James Knott Trust; and The Classics FEC committee of the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the Engagement and Place fund of Newcastle University.

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