Promotional Poster for Italian Performances 2001
Designed by Amanda Castleman




For MP3s of the music only, click here.

For details on the 'reconstruction' of the music, see this paper.

This production of Aristophanes' most controversial play began with a new translation by two University College London classics scholars. Charles Connaghan produced an accurate but punchy rendition of the dialogue, including all obscenities. John Curtis Franklin made metrical translations of all choral passages as the basis for the musical reconstruction, the principles of which are drawn from his research into ancient Greek music.

First directed by American author Dan Robb with a cast from Oxford, England, the production debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe, August 2000. The promotional device of a traditional Greek phallic procession, with a 25-foot long todger paraded by the cast to the accompaniment of Balkan music, was quickly banned from the Royal Mile by the Fringe Office (related here by Tim Younger). Playwright and novelist David Mowat of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art provided choreography inspired by Greek and Balkan folk dance. 'Scenery' was a sequence of eighty back-projections of ancient vase paintings.

Revived under the direction of David Mowat, and with a slightly different cast, the production was brought to Italy in July 2001 for three performances at the American Academy in Rome and a fourth at the Museo Nazionale, Palazzo Altemps, under the auspices of the Greek Embassy and sponsorship of the American Academy in Rome, the Beni ed Attività Culturali, and Cronos-Aegean Airlines. A compact disc including music from these performances has been published, along with an article describing the method of composition—"Aristophanes Clouds: A Musical Reconstruction", E. Hickmann and R. Eichmann (ed.), Archäologie früher Klangerzeugung und Tonordnungen. Serie Studien zur Musikarchäologie, Orient-Archäologie (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut Berlin, Orient-Abteilung, 2002). Needless to say, the Italian authorities had no problem with the phallic procession. 

Phallic Procession in the Piazza Navona (July 2001).
Photo: Amanda Castleman.