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The following program was produced and recorded by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service undergrad in aid from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Classical drama a series of five Complete plays of antiquity in modern translation today. The birds by Aristophanes translation by William Aerosmith used by permission of the University of Michigan press and the new American Library of world literature incorporated and its mentor imprint original music composed by Don Gillis and conducted by Henri and Dolly. Electronic music affects by the sideman courtesy of Wurlitzer Music Corporation and the Angeline courtesy of Richards Music Corporation director for the University of Michigan series Jerry Sanders. Now to introduce this production of The Byrds here is Professor Peter Arnott of the department of Classics at the State University of Iowa. Take a bass of Gilbert and Sullivan at Lewis Carroll
an Ogden Nash. See some Robert Benchley and James Thurber Spice well with political cartoons and a few gossip pages from The New Yorker. Set the hold on music and have it performed by Abbott and Costello. The Marx Brothers settled with Chad and as the field chorus stand well back and consider the result and you will have a fair idea of what artist a fan a comedy is like. Today's theater is too rigid too neatly ordered. We have learned to distinguish different sorts of comedy and the object of the contents belie the label. If we go to see high comedy we complain when fast intrudes it's leering head. If we go to see Burlesque we do not expect to be entertained by Cornelia Otis Skinner. The Greek comedy of the 5th century B.C. recognize no such distinctions. It was an
all embracing form all things to all men. The audiences who packed the theater at Athens were mixed. The intellectuals rub shoulders with the boys where the rabble of the city's streets breathe down the necks of respectable civil servants. Comedy recognised the diversity and tried to appeal to all the evils of taste. One play would run the whole gamut of humor from the coarsest of buffoonery to scintillating wit accompanied by choral songs that rank among the finest in Greek poetry. The plays had fantastic plots and settings comedy had none of tragedy as an imitation. It was not bound to a handful of familiar themes but could run wild in the limitless territory of the imagination. A chorus dressed as birds animals or anything appropriate or inappropriate help the action along the actors were
virtuoso performers. Quick change artists who could jump from one characterization to another often impersonating living Athenians or sat in the audience to see themselves marked. There were no laws of slander or libel. The comic poet could be as a reverent as he pleased. Even the gods became objects of fun. Unhampered by scene and by stage mechanics. The Greek Theatre offered a simple under localized playing area well suited to comedy with frequent shifts of place and mood. Radio has corresponding advantages. It can restore the audience to a position where words are the important thing and the background can safely be left to the imagination. Aristophanes as a master of this form and the birds is one of his finest plays. It is the deadliest satire on all
utopias and all political idealists. Two old men will go up the mountain top to found a new land of plenty. Among the birds at every turn they are hampered by phone news and posers by idleness by graft. All the political the abuses that we know the Greeks knew first. They are all here in this play out of stuff a nice theme is the turn of a modern its plot is less bound up in Athenian topicality is than many of his other works and may still be appreciated without a mass of footnotes. Every scene in the play as the listener will discover for himself has its modern parallel. When the summit conference between gods and men which concludes the work you will see all the apparatus of bribery and concession appeasement and threat
with which we have lately become so familiar. For all of its fantasy and humor. But birds has an underlying seriousness. The Greeks expected comedy by all drama and indeed old literature to serve a social purpose by giving good advice to the state. That is a model here. For those that care to look for it in a sense. This is adult stuff a nice animal farm. All birds are equal but some are less equal than others. All men are equal particularly those in office. So lay our modern ideas of comedy aside and prepare to enjoy a unique experience. Today's stage can offer nothing like this. You have been warned. True or am. I am. Through.
A desolate wilderness in the background is a single tree and the sheer rock face of a cliff into it in the last stages of exhaustion. You wimp it is in the tires. He will pities cat is a magpie. The title's holds a crow. They are followed by slaves with their luggage consisting mainly of kitchen equipment cold rinse pots sit sit sit. What's the plan to hike in these hills if we don't stop this zigzag and pretty soon. I'm through with trusting a crow to go trudging over this 100
barred you met. Me yet still make my toenails the way right down to the. Do you suppose we could find our way back home from yeah friends. Even ex couldn't do that. What are you laughing at. You know that the bed was a filthy for all that swearing up and down these two birds here would lead us to this. Yeah that's what the stinking jabbering magpie have to bits and their offspring as. Well what he had to say. There's no road there even a truck. No no my fingers are.
Still the shit. That's what I think of it many a we all die and by God we can. Make of this wreck completely in my head but it's not like sech a sickness to be a poor common foreign as seen when we born in Britain. True. True citizens not afraid of any man. Yes we've spread our little feet and taken the not Hadith into headwinds and I hope you're already at the end there is a grand that blasted land they were free to pay their taxes and look to the locals do what amounted to Rome's intruders on the little kids all the men of Athens perched upon the only think it's a law is which religion out there
threescore years and ten years because of legal. Because the listeners we have left in these baskets and pots and bows and mud looking for some land of self-penned love leisure when a man may love and. Play and settle down for good. How is our journey's end. From him we hope to learn ABC Family such a place on. What. What was the book. My crew staring up in the air and my magpies deep into what looks as though he's pointed his beak at the sky. I picked up muses but somewhat you're about to find out soon enough we make a racket I know. Try getting the side of a cliff with your foot bashed with your head. You make more noise. Pick up a rock component. Good idea I'll try that. I called the one who boat boy.
You better say you know your part this is your. Shot time again. Yes. Oh. You. Gonna help us with a peak on that. List but. Do you know that her bark is worse than a pig a model of evil guy. But we're not men. Yeah so what. I'm just this an African thrash three of Oahu rhythm my last just is a look at my feet and that plate over there so what is the Dante and smelly romp a creative family thing. What about you Betty what did blazes are you. I'm a slave. Well I say some Bantam thresher in a scrap but when the boss gets changed into a hoop I put in my application for feathers too so I could stay inside. In
that there when I add that and since when of our beds been haven't bought less. He gets the habit I think from heaven and when you just get there instance I suppose the once inside Deans dash down with Ed. traction something to be aware and I grab a little ladle and scatter to the can be quite a run I tell you what run a bath just get inside and fetch Oh master I'll bet he's nap and now we gorge himself on MSM midges in Myrtle nappy damn go away again I'm warning you he'll big round goggle guy just for us. Say they're out through it. It's Sunday. Them play here. And drop dead. Still shaking me too. And guess what my magpies gone gutteral why don't we. What about you. Well your boy is my boat right here on my right where he was here and where were you holding on for dear life.
We are. Pleased that you know it's a freak give their plumage What Who are you. God gave you some nasty. Ass never made you think not so funny. First do you know Jay-Z Passon. Are you a bird or a peacock. I'm a bird. What happened to your feathers but the form of the manger ignore that remark. All birds moated withdrawal and then in spring we grow back nothing.
Don't tell me who you are mortals and ends and the lovely Jorian now just the reverse where non-jury men like that species have become extinct. You can still find a few around wild if you look hard enough. But what brings you here gentlemen. Your assistance and advice. I had five he says you were mortal long says we are more than you once were paid with credit plague now you welched on your truth. But no you were immortal once you became up flew the circuit of the spreading. See here this bird and man you understand. And so we come to you to ask your help bearing our hope that you may know someone and there's some country like a blanket so often between two tired men might do something
so it wasn't exactly splendid we had in mind. We wanted a country that was made just something more expansive. Can't abide that aristocracy my dear man what do you want the sort of country where the worst trouble I could have would be to print at my door in the morning to pester me with invitations to a dinner. Come on old boy I'm throwing a big celebration so fresh up. Give your kid is a bath and come on over and don't just stand me up or I won't turn to you when I'm in trouble. God troubles present though you said about you pleasant trouble when I got just the place to please. Now down on the river was not the sea. No sir I don't want any court officials with summons and subpoenas showing up on ships at the crack of dawn. Now look don't you know some city in heaven
now they'd always let Bruce. How would that suit your leprous lap you never heard of it offhand I'd say no. Smacks of old man thius. He leprous well carve out all posts. Count me out if appointees comes from a person you know Percy isn't from me. You couldn't pay me to live there. But look here what kind of a life do you think you should know you've lived here long enough. Life Among the ped and you don't need care of lives big swindle disposed of you scour the cotton picking I mean the public says to me and me. That's not a lie. That's a tough one for you might want to skip if you birds will do just what I say will get sick so you don't want to just take my advice instead. Stop flapping around with your beaks hanging open
and looks undignified and people jeer at it. In Athens want to receive some silly ass. We ask Hey who's that. People say oh him he's a real bad. Dumb as a dodo. That's why he hasn't got the brains of a bull. Get reduced service too. But what really do you suggest. Own your own. How sick. But whoever thought of the city of heaven through MS who bow down there. Well you look up there. You know that it would be a nice design device played by not see anything nothing but clouds and a miss is sky high. That mess of sky is the spirit of how do you attack as it were. Oh the heavens you see revolve upon a kind of pool or axis whence we call this guy a sphere. Well then you settle in your sphere.
You build your walls and for a misdemeanor of yours you will appear. Then my friend you will be the LORD's of all mankind is ones you are merely laws of locusts and as for the gods if they object or get in your way you can wipe them all out by starvation wipe them out. But foam with your hair is the boundary between earth and heaven. Now just as we do we make a trip to Delphi are required to secure help from the thieving government so when men propose a sacrifice to heaven a boycott's refusing your passport to these offerings and forbidding any transit through your land until the gods agree to pay you tribute. He smashed printers and notes but I never could object. We put the two of them we've just beaten down city provided the beds would agree with you who will make the most you of costs. Don't be so young to turn on things anymore. They used to but
now I have told the Great Britain how come we must require up nothing simpler. I'll just step behind this think it yeah my sleeping wife my lovely night and day. We do a spode you get in with them. Yeah they all come flocking in when they get all saw grouped all bird you're. Very quick go wake your sleepy Nightingale and sing your song. On you. It's. A.
Hole. Worn out clothes was the load load load was. On the OS. Oh roll. As you. Just hear a little bit a sound like on a stream and.
I was crushed. I hope hope hope hope whole week. Words of a fellow feather come from so many. Of the many thousands of horror.
Something your sole. Goal. Cheap cheap cheap cheap. Do you eat. Meat. All those sea birds he told us on the seat. Old promise you the world will remember the Borg will come and see you you will revolt. Come and see.
The outcome. Man has come. To bring. Him. Home.
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Classical drama
The birds, part 1
Producing Organization
University of Michigan
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-t727fq3s).
Episode Description
This program presents part 1 of The Birds by Aristophanes, in a new translation by William Arrowsmith.
Series Description
This series presents full-length productions of Greek and Roman plays of antiquity in modern English translation with original music especially composed for this series. Each play is introduced by William Arrowsmith of the University of Texas.
Broadcast Date
Comic drama
Media type
Composer: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
Producing Organization: University of Michigan
Speaker: Arrowsmith, William, 1924-1992
Speaker: Arnott, Peter
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-58-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:25:45
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Classical drama; The birds, part 1,” 1961-11-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 25, 2024,
MLA: “Classical drama; The birds, part 1.” 1961-11-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: Classical drama; The birds, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from