What is a Grex?

What is a Grex?

You might be asking this question right now, as I myself once did: “what is a grex?” Well, let me tell you, it IS something. Despite attempts by the auto-correct on my MacBook to tell me: “no, grex, is not a word. What you are looking for is gre-w. Stop being ludicrous”, I can safely say it is a word. It’s Latin, so that might explain the mix-up, Apple.

Unfortunately, it is not nor has it ever had anything to do with any species of the reptile or amphibian families. Sorry for those of you hoping I would post a picture of a komodo dragon or something more tropical.

The origins of grex date to Roman times. The term at its root form refers to a “troupe of actors”, the chief actor was referred to as the dominus grex or dominus gregis. Often the officials in charge of festivals would contact a dominus gregis, who served as that era’s version of a producer, to put on the play. He would buy the play himself, or recommend playwrights to the officials, hire the actors, and make arrangements for whatever necessities the production required.

Often, but not always, actors that were part of a grex were slaves, or at least took part in some form of indentured servitude. Even though they were technically servants, these actors were considered professionals in their field, and maintained a small level of respect amongst the general populous. That being said, however, being an actor in this time was not considered a worthwhile endeavor, and generally was looked down on.

Does any of this sound familiar? To me, it shows that even 2,000 years later, not much has changed in the way the world at large views the theatre. Of course, this serves to be a double meaning. In order to produce truly worthwhile art, one must, in essence, be a slave to it. They must devote their entire being to their work, and in doing so, creates something memorable and worthwhile.

That, to me, is a Grex.

Of course, a lizard or something along those lines might help sell some merchandise. We’ll get back to you on that.

Article contributed by: Casey Wright.  Mr. Wright holds an M.A. in Drama: Dramaturgy from The University of Oklahoma School of Drama.