Survey of Ancient EgyptProf. P. Piccione
History 270.001Spring 2000

Final Class Project:

"The Conflict of Horus and Seth"

an ancient Egyptian sacred drama adapted
and staged by the students of History 270
at the College of Charleston,
Spring Term 2000

Location: on the Cistern (Alumni Hall in case of rain)
Date: April 20, 2000

Under their own direction, students will produce and stage a faithful adaptation of an ancient Egyptian sacred drama--as part of an extended unit on the nature and function of drama in Egypt and its potential to reveal aspects of Egyptian society. The sacred play was performed by the king and priests as part of dramatic liturgies during the festival of the "Victory of Horus," celebrated annually at the Temple of Horus at Edfu, Upper Egypt. The text and scenes of this play are recorded on the walls of the temple.

As a group project, all students in the class will divide themselves into a number of study groups/project teams to discuss the drama and to mount a 30-minute adaptation of the play, for which they will be graded. Each group/team will be directed by a leader chosen by team members. All the teams will be coordinated by a producer, and a stage director will effect the physical staging of the production. Both the producer and director will be chosen by the students, subject to confirmation by the course instructor. The producer and director are members of every team. They, in turn, coordinate with the course instructor on funding issues (money!) and liaisoning with the College.

Producer. The producer makes the production go; he/she is responsible for working up the production schedule, mantaining accounts and receipts, coordinating with team leaders to ensure that the teams identify and maintain their responsibilities and schedules for the production. Ideally, the producer negotiates his vision of the production with the director until they agree on a common vision. The director tells the producer his/her needs, and the producer transmits these needs to the appropriate teams and ensures that the director's requirements are fulfilled. The producer works with the director on issues related to scripting, casting, costuming, supplies, props, sound and music, arranging rehearsal time and space and production venue, etc. Producer and director work together to approve the final script and to cast the principal roles.

Director. The director is responsible for bringing together the physical staging of the production, anything having to do with scripting, casting for major parts, scheduling and directing stage rehearsals, blocking, reciting lines, etc.

Grading and Extra Credit. Because of the extended responsibilities associated with producing and directing, the producer and director will receive extra grade credit. Each team leader will also receive additional grading consideration, as long as the team's work quality is reflected in the final production.

The final project is worth 25% of the course grade. All students enrolled in the course are required to work on the final project without exception. Anyone not completing the project must necessarily receive a failing grade in the course. Each student's grade for the project is based on the combination of: (1) the instructor's overall grade of the team to which the student belongs [= 60% of project grade]; (2) the students' own anonymous grades of the other members of their teams [= 40% of project grade] assessed on their respective levels of contribution, cooperation, and attendance. Students are absolutely forbidden to discuss with each other the grades they will assign!

Project Team Assignments
(click to open)

Project Teams:

Writing and Script Adaptation. This team must work quickly from early in the semester to adapt and produce a usable idiomatic script for a 30-minute production.

Production Design and Staging. This team is responsible for set design and construction (tech crew!). The team leader is the chief designer of the production; the team works to combine its vision with that of the producer and director in order to design the look of the show; nothing over-elaborate but not "minimalist," either. Material needs are coordinated through the producer.

Properties. This team identifies sources for props; builds, creates, or purchases the props requested by the director through the producer. The team also includes some bakers to prepare cakes/breads representing a hippopotamus and tortoise (and maybe a crocodile, too!), as the god Seth, who is ultimately slaughtered and served up to the company and audience at the conclusion of the production. The teams leader functions as prop master. Material needs are coordinated through the producer.

Costuming. Team identifies sources for costumes; prepares or acquires simple costumes for the production (nothing over elaborate). The team leader functions as chief costumer. Material needs are coordinated through the producer.

Cast and Acting. These team members function as the principals, chorus, and lector-priests who recite the lines of the play, often as incantations in time to the action. They must meet to rehearse lines and blocking with the director. The principals are selected from among the team members by the director and producer.

Music Production (if desirable). Selection (or creation?) and production of appropriate music. If music is used, then the team also doubles to provide/coordinate sound for the music.

Public Relations/liaison. This team works closely with the producer and is responsible for the preparation of an audience program, advertising, getting the word out, any promotion as required by the production, liaisoning with news organizations, the media, and any pertinent campus or community groups or cultural organizations, etc. If the class chooses to videotape the production, this team is responsible for that aspect.

In the traditional spirit of the theater, students may work in multiple capacities on this production. The course instructor reserves the right (if necessary) to move any student from one team to another at any time.

The course instructor will take no part in the production, except to confirm the appropriateness and accuracy of the script as part of class discussions before the drama goes into production. Issues related to the production of the drama are in the purview of the students through their leaders. The team leaders, producer, and director should meet regularly with the instructor to confirm that all is proceeding on schedule and to treat any concerns and difficulties.