Toph Marshall

Professor, CNERS, and Arts One


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Once upon a time, I was a student in Arts One, and I am thrilled to be back teaching in the programme for “Appearance and Reality”. I left Vancouver to finish my classical archaeology degree in Montréal, believing I wanted to be paid to scuba dive off the coast of Greece. But then I read Homer in Greek, and all was lost, and so I completed a doctorate in Scotland on Greek poetry. I taught in five provinces before being hired by UBC, where I am now Professor of Greek. I’ve been active with the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, and with the American School for Classical Studies in Athens, where I lived form 2018-19.
The bulk of my research examines ancient stagecraft and performance, considering practical questions about what actors did, how masks work, what audiences perceived, and how meaning is created in performance, when looking at Greek and Roman plays. My first book focused on Roman comic stagecraft in Plautus and Terence; others have examined performance issues and the interpretation of Euripides’ Helen, Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers, and Aristophanes’ Frogs. Plays were meant to be interpreted in performance, and thinking about production conventions provides the tools necessary for understanding plays. Other research interests include ancient sexuality and slavery (I’ve studied ancient breastfeeding and literary representations of sex slavery and prostitution), comics (I have co-edited two volumes with George Kovacs on Classics and Comics, and was Academic Director of the International Comic Arts Forum from 2010-16), and television (I’ve co-edited collections with Tiffany Potter on Battlestar Galactica and The Wire). I am very fortunate in my co-authors.
I’ve directed a dozen ancient plays in the U.K. and Canada, and a handful of modern ones; in Scotland I founded the comedy group now known as the Improverts, which is in its 31st year. Beginning in September 2020, I will be the Artistic Director of the United Players of Vancouver, the resident theatre company of the Jericho Arts Centre (and the best theatre deal in the city). I am also interested in game design, and am currently thinking about dice, knucklebones, ancient board games.