A Tradition of Latin Plays

Every other year, Classics students at St. Olaf College voluntarily take to the stage and perform one of the surviving ancient Roman comedies written in Latin by Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254-c. 184 BCE).

Our actors speak a hybrid of Latin and English, designed to be intelligible to anyone. We adapt Plautus’ humor to make the play suitable for children as well as adults.

The show has no intermission and runs about an hour. Each performance includes six songs, based either on Plautus’ lyrical passages or on dialogue passages converted to songs.  For accompaniment we use the piano and whatever other instruments our cast members can play. Our backdrops are painted bedsheets attached to portable screens. Students help make their own costumes.

In addition to giving two performances at St. Olaf, we take the show on the road to several other schools in southeastern Minnesota. We have also performed at the national convention of Eta Sigma Phi and at the annual meeting of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South. The performances are free and open to the general public.

DVD’s and videotapes of past productions are available for purchase from the director, Prof. Anne Groton.

History of Latin Plays at St. Olaf College

Spring, 1982: Plautus’ Menaechmi
Spring, 1983: Plautus’ Rudens
Spring, 1984: Plautus’ Mostellaria
Spring, 1985: Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus – also performed at 1985 CAMWS Meeting (in Minneapolis, MN) & 1985 Eta Sigma Phi Convention (at St. Olaf College)
Spring, 1987: Plautus’ Aulularia
Spring, 1989: Plautus’ Pseudolus
Spring, 1992: Plautus’ Mostellaria
Spring, 1993: Plautus’ Menaechmi – also performed at 1993 CAMWS Meeting (in Iowa City, IA)
Spring, 1995: Plautus’ Curculio
Spring, 1997: Plautus’ Aulularia – also performed at 1997 Eta Sigma Phi Convention (in Minneapolis, MN)
Spring, 1999: Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus
Spring, 2001: Plautus’ Pseudolus
Spring, 2003: Plautus’ Rudens
Spring, 2005: Plautus’ Curculio – also performed at 2005 Eta Sigma Phi Convention (at St. Olaf College)
nullSpring, 2007: Plautus’ Menaechmi
Spring, 2008: Plautus’ Mostellaria
Fall, 2009: Plautus’ Aulularia
Spring, 2011: Plautus’ Pseudolus
Fall, 2012: Plautus’ Rudens
Coming up March 12-15, 2014:  Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus

For more on the St. Olaf College Latin plays, see the article in Didaskalia.