Epidaurus: Did Sophocles Have the Jitters?




April 28, 2015


Did Sophocles Have the Jitters?


Here’s the scene:

 It’s Opening Night. 

Your latest drama is about to be performed for the first time. 

Local dignitaries and your loyal fans anxiously await and anticipate the opening lines of the first act. 

Critics, too!

Out-of-town travelers have scooped up all the remaining last minute discount tickets.

14,000 are seated on the hard, limestone tiers in the outdoor theater. 

The House is packed.  Restless.  Murmuring.


At least there’s no rain in the forecast.

Are the actors prepared?  Will they remember their lines and blocking?  Do they understand that the theater owners and producers expect a boffo performance tonight?

Are the performers aware that the architects and engineers designed an acoustically perfect structure?  Every whisper, every aside, every cough, every sniffle, every burp, every stomach rumble can be heard from center stage to the very last tier to the very last row of the cheap seats!

So, did Sophocles have the jitters?  

Nah!  Sophocles, the great poet and playwright of Ancient Greece, wrote more than fifty plays.  He has been through fifty Opening Nights.   His stomach is hard as limestone.   His nerves, marble.

But just in case, down the road, in Old Epidaurus is a tiny theater.  A quiet setting.   A comfortable rehearsal space?  An “out-of-town tryout” perhaps?

But tonight, 14,000 in the house!

Did old man Sophocles have the jitters?  Well, maybe just a little.

What about the young performers?  Don’t ask! 

“Places, please.  Curtain going up!”

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