A victory for classical language students at Dionysia Competition

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On Friday, May 10, a group of Townsend Harris High School students from classical languages teacher Marianthe Colakis’ Greek and Latin classes participated in the 10th Annual New York City Dionysia Competition, in which the New York Classical Club selects a play for participants to write and perform their own version of. This year’s chosen text was Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and THHS students performed their version at the Leonard Theater in the Bronx. Their adaptation of the story of Caenis set in a contemporary high school finished in second place.

In the original story, Poseidon rapes Caenis, a nymph, and afterwards, she wishes to be an invulnerable man. In the adapted version, Dr. Colakis explained, “Poseidon became an Olympic swimming champion and Caenis was a girl who wanted to change her gender. The myth touches on issues such as rape and gender identity, and I’m happy the student authors were able to bring those out.”

In fact, Dr. Colakis stated that students had to “write and perform skits as their collateral…With input from the students, I chose the skits we would perform” at the competition.

Sophomore Sohini Alim, who played Caenis’ friend Ella, believed that their success can be attributed to the “Townsend Harris zest.” Sohini added, “If it was any other school, the last minute preparation would not be cut out to create a successful play like we did. The passion to write, act, and win this play within the short two weeks we prepared for the play really showed.”

Dr. Colakis hopes that next year she can begin to prepare students for the competition earlier, and even hopes to include Drama Club members as well.  Sophomore Thomas Szymanski, who played Poseidon, encourages future participants to not be so focused on “setting up a good show, but having fun on stage” as this will “foment both the best outcome and most enjoyment out of the occasion.”