Here's a quick question for you: what’s your first association when hear the word “Oedipus?” A) an ancient Greek drama, B) Freudian theory, C) an epic family tragedy, or D) Jerry Springer? Most people will likely choose options A, B, or C. Oedipus the King is, after all, a tragic Greek drama about a man who fulfills his fate by attempting to avoid his fate. Much later, Sigmund Freud co-opted the main character (Oedipus) for one of his more ridiculous theories of psycho-social development (the Oedipus Complex – don’t get me started). So why is Jerry Springer among the list of options? Well, what better way to bring Oedipus’s tragic story to life than to publicly humiliate him on The Jerry Springer Show?
That’s exactly what Honors World Literature students did this year after reading the play. Students were cast in the major roles: Oedipus, Creon, Tiresias, Jocasta, the Messenger from Corinth, the Shepherd, and...Jerry Springer, of course! Together, the class developed questions for Jerry to ask each character so each could prepare responses based on the text of the play and answer them in character. Additionally, “Jerry” secretly prepared a couple of plot-or-character-surprise questions to “spring” on each character that would force each to improvise an accurate response based on the play.
World Literature students performed the Jerry Springer Show and revealed Oedipus’s (and his wife-mother’s) dirty secrets before a live audience of other students from other classes, who played their part with shouts of “Jerry!” and groans of disgust. It was memorable performance that made Oedipus all the more memorable.
GW Community School
Honors World Literature
Oedipus the King
Dr. Steve Garon, Teacher
April 10, 2019