Alumna Katy Lawrence (2020), who reads Classics at the University of Cambridge, wanted to produce a play for the triennial event after watching it as a student at The Abbey.
The tradition of performing a play in Greek every three years at Cambridge University extends back to 1882, with performing alumni including First World-War poet Rupert Brooke, composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and actor Tom Hiddleston.
Head of Classics, Mrs Elizabeth Sutcliffe, took a group of Lower V to Upper VI students to watch the double bill performance of Aeschylus’ Persians followed by Katy’s production of Euripides’ Cyclops.
Read what Katy has to say about her experiences of studying Classics at Cambridge.
When did you leave The Abbey and what are you doing now?
I left The Abbey back in the chaos of 2020 and since then I have been studying at the University of Cambridge. I am currently doing my final year of Classics at Sidney Sussex College, specialising in the role of women in Classical Greece and the reception of myth.
Why did you choose to study Classics?
I have always loved ancient history from when I was little and obsessed with Percy Jackson and the Roman Mysteries. When I was at The Abbey, I had the opportunity to study Latin and then to pick up Classical Greek for my GCSEs, which really helped to solidify in my mind that this is what I wanted to study at university. Being able to explore the lives and interests of people from thousands of years ago feels really special to me.
How is a Classics degree different from school?
The first two years of my degree felt quite similar to my time at The Abbey as I had a lot of contact hours and variety in what I was learning. However I also have been able to explore parts of classics not just limited to language and literature, such as archaeology and linguistics. My third year has felt quite different from school though, as a lot of my work is self-motivated (not something I was used to after taking the International Baccalaureate!)
What other opportunities are available to you alongside your studies?
I am always someone who has enjoyed being busy, and my time at Cambridge has been no different! I was part of my college’s JCR for a year as LGBTQ+ officer, with a personal highlight being convincing my college to fly the Transgender Pride Flag for Transgender Day of Remembrance. I have also been heavily involved in student theatre, from producing to acting to lighting to sound and more. Earlier this year I had the wonderful opportunity to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in an original musical based on the myth of Antigone.
You recently produced the triennial Cambridge Greek Play, tell me more about it?
During my time at The Abbey, I went on two trips where we went to see the triennial Cambridge Greek Play and I absolutely loved watching the shows – I even mentioned the trips in my personal statement! I had always had in the back of my mind that I would love to be involved in the Greek Play, and so when applications opened at the end of 2021, I applied to be the student producer who would work alongside a professional designer, director and composer. This was an absolutely surreal experience and together we created two shows (in the original Greek) that we were very proud of: Aeschylus’ Persians and Euripides’ Cyclops. The cherry on top of it all was getting to see Mrs Sutcliffe and students from the Abbey in attendance, which was a very full circle moment for me.
What advice would you give to current students?
Be kind to yourself. I ended up getting caught up in a lot of stress when getting into university due to Covid-19 and exams not taking place. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen and I felt that no matter how hard I had worked, things were simply out of my control. Although this was not an experience I would want to repeat, it did give me a lot of perspective and reminded me to prioritise my wellbeing and mental health over any academics.