A professor of Greek at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College for fifty years, Mabel K. Whiteside, along with her students, directed an annual production of a Greek play from 1909 until 1954. During that time, the plays were presented in their original language. She produced the College’s first full-length Greek tragedy in 1910—Sophocles’ Antigone—the play with which the College revived the tradition in 2000.
Prof. Whiteside and her students produced Antigone three more times, in 1917, 1931, and 1944. Over the years Miss Mabel (as she was affectionately known) led productions of tragedies and comedies by all of the great Greek playwrights, culminating in 1954 with Aeschylus’s trilogy The Oresteia—it was the first time the trilogy had been staged as a whole in Greek in the new world. Although there were a few interruptions in the annual schedule, R-MWC saw forty Greek plays in forty-five years. The Dell was built in honor of Miss Mabel and this unparalleled series of productions.
The Greek Plays inspired so much interest in the ancient world that by the end of her tenure, Miss Mabel taught Greek to a full ten percent of the Randolph College student body.