Theatre Department Involves Area Students and Performers in Staging of “The Rhodes Cycle”

Dr. David Mason, whose research involves theater and religion, tied his spring 2017 lab to McCoy Theatre’s third production, “The Rhodes Cycle.” Mason set out to introduce students to the communal staging methods used by towns during the Middle Ages to present dramatized versions of biblical events known as cycle plays. The students had to study medieval history and literature, and Mason invited area students, artists, and performers to help stage a performance in medieval fashion at Rhodes. 

As a result, Rhodes’ Department of Theatre will present "The Rhodes Cycle" on April 11 at 6:57 p.m. in Oak Alley on campus. The production will take place on custom-built pageant wagons involving four Rhodes classes; the Rhodes Theatre Guild; students at the University of Memphis, Central High School, and Memphis University School; Crosstown Arts;  Caza Teatro; Weightless Aerial; and New York City-based artists. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees also are encouraged to  bring lawn chairs. 

“There are two principal premises for this project,” says Mason. “The first is pedagogical: trying to do what has been done, historically, as an effective way of teaching history. The second is communal; theatrical performance has a peculiar ability to create unified communities.”

Rhodes Mellon Fellows have helped with much of the project, which also is supported by the college’s Search for Values in the Light of Western History and Religion program.

“ ‘The Rhodes Cycle’  has been a great way to connect niches of Rhodes, from Latin classes to Search classes, to the outside community,” says Roz KennyBirch ’17, a Rhodes Mellon Fellow and one of the project’s producers.  “Working with organizations like Caza Teatro and the Memphis University School has been a treat, and we are so excited to see all of the guilds skits come together in a complete performance!”