Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011 - (Page 6)

in my own words The Changing Face of a Classicist PETER MEINECK, PhD Clinical Associate Professor of Classics New York University In addition to being a professor, english-born Peter Meineck is a writer, director, and producer. In 1991, he founded Artistic Aquila Theatre, which is dedicated to reinterpretations of classical drama. He is the visionary behind Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives, a program that brings theatrical events, reading groups, and lectures to 100 libraries and art centers across the U.S. Meineck is also an eMT in his town’s volunteer ambulance corps and a former Royal Marine. What makes him think he can be so many things? The Greeks, of course. A soldier like me I wanted to be an archaeologist initially. As a child, I liked the romance of that, and I loved the idea of the Mediterranean world, Rome, and travel. Then, at 15, I left school and joined the Royal Marines, and that was going to be my career. When the Marines ended up sending me to University, I studied archaeology and Ancient Rome. But one of my professors saw that I had been in the military, and she suggested I study Greek drama and Aeschylus because he was a soldier like me. It never occurred to me that a soldier could be a playwright, too. While discovering the Greeks, I also discovered the theater. I began to work in theater as a technician, doing lighting and building sets. Those two loves—the theater and scholarship—went hand in hand. The classics made so many connections in my life. They taught me that you didn’t have to be just one thing. You didn’t have to be the theater kid or the jock. You could actually be all of those things. Sophocles was a politician, a general, and a playwright. Aeschylus wrote 120 plays, and all that it says on his gravestone in Sicily is, “Here lies Aeschylus who fought in the battle of Marathon.” They were definitely well-rounded, and that appealed to me. Something old becomes something new The classics have been held up as a paradigm of the elite, but I actually think that negates the wisdom and the power that are within those texts. I’ve always wanted to explain them to people and give people access to what these texts were about. Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives goes into rural and inner-city communities and gives live, top-quality performances of ancient plays. In addition to the talented actors, scholars from the best universities create discussions based on people witnessing these classic plays. In our reading groups, people may read The Iliad, and alongside it, they may read African American poetry or the work of Wole Soyinka, or watch an HBO show like The Wire. Then you have an ancient text and modern text having a conversation. Or our scholars might do a film series and, at the end of a film, talk about The Iliad. Or they might teach The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and then compare it to a play like Sophocles’s Ajax. It not only makes the audience think, but it gets scholars out of their comfort zone. They have to start thinking about these works as contemporary texts, and that’s the challenge. Catharsis and healing This program has a particular thrust of interest because right now we have an enormous number of young Americans who joined the military and are coming back physically and mentally hurt by their experiences. In a way, we’re in a similar place to Athens in the fifth century, which was also a place of constant war. These 6 imagine shUtterstoCk, istoCk Nov/Dec 2011

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011
Big Questions
In My Own Words
Latin Geek
Latin in Rome
Made in Greece ... or Was It?
Classics for All
Pillaging the Past
The Aqueduct Hunters
What’s Old is News
Selected Opportunities & Resources
Girls on Ice
Nurturing a Passion for Science at the National Youth Science Camp
Off the Shelf
Word Wise
Exploring Career Options
One Step Ahead
Planning Ahead for College
Students Review
Mark Your Calendar
Knossos Game

Imagine Magazine - Johns Hopkins - November/December 2011