Bringing back ancient Greece

Play director’s years of analyzing “The Foul Mess in Thebes” brings unique play to the PAC stage


Photo by Photo used with permission of Tom Skobel

Play poster featuring Sammie Kopp, junior cast member. She and many other drama members will be participating in the play coming up at the end of this week.

Jane Yu and Kara Yoon

This year’s play “The Foul Mess in Thebes,” is coming to fruition through a teacher’s two and a half years of work for his master thesis.  

The play “The Foul Mess in Thebes” is a modern retelling of five Greek tragedies that take place in a deteriorating factory.  This year, the spring play will be unique because Tom Skobel, English teacher and director, has been analyzing the play for his master’s thesis.

“I chose this play two and a half years ago because when I first saw this play, it affected me profoundly in such a way that I thought, ‘Wow, how could an ancient Greek tragedy that’s adapted to modern-day impact an audience?’” Skobel said. 

The message that Skobel is hoping the audience takes away from the play is that if people “lose [their] humanity, [they] will lose each other” and it shows that people “need to start being better towards one another.”

Along with Skobel’s thorough insight of the show, students in the production have also put in work to take part in this unique experience and become part of the play’s narrative.

“Our performance is a huge part of Mr. Skobel’s grade,” Alina Malin, junior cast member, said.  “It’s actually really exciting because it’s so fun for us to try something new, especially because we’re used to doing this certain type of theatre, […] it’s different from what’s been done before.”

During practices, Skobel requires Haley Cranstoun, senior and stage manager, to record the progress of the production for his master’s thesis. Additionally, cast members said that they had to find a verb that went with each of their lines and the motivation behind the character’s actions.

The work that the actors have to complete doesn’t stop there, they also have to learn complex choreographies of fight scenes for the play. The show contains “a lot of violence” says Skobel, so it’s difficult to plan scenes as well as get the cast to really understand the ancient situations playing out.

“[Skobel] is very wise at giving character directions, and it’s really interesting to hear him talk about the characters and their backgrounds because this is his thesis show and he knows everything about it,” Matty Winiarz, freshman cast member, said.

Skobel and the cast will showcase their work on February 6-8th at 7 pm in the PAC. You can buy tickets now at

“People should come see this play because it’s funny and fast-paced and it has a great message as well,”  Skobel said. “I think at the end of it, they will leave really thinking about a lot of the things in this play.”