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Deus Ex Machina Awards

Koryphaios Awards

Each year, at the end of the year banquet, Mr. Henderson confers on certain students the Deus Ex Machina and Koryphaios Awards. These awards are given only to students who exert a powerful positive influence over the co-curricular program. They represent excellence in the following areas: classroom leadership, grades, behavior and outstanding accomplishments in the after school Theatre Arts productions in either acting, technical areas or both. Only a very few students are chosen from each grade level, men and women, Freshman through Senior.
Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina is a Latin phrase and translates to “God from the Machine.” The origin of this phrase goes back 2,500 years to the Greeks. It carries two meanings, one more literal, the other more literary.

As a literary term, it was used to describe a plot device in which a “god” descended from the heavens near the end of a play to help the hapless humans out of the horrible situation they had inevitably gotten themselves into. In other words, the playwright had often created a situation in which only divine intervention could rescue the plot at the very end. The Greek tragedian Euripides often used this plot device as a means to resolve a hopeless situation.

As a more literal term, Deus Ex Machina described a type of crane onto which an actor was hung by a rope or wire when playing the part of a “god” who was descending during a production. The crane, rope, pulleys and harness, were the “machine” portion of the phrase. It was one of the earliest examples of stage special effects.

In MAD Drama, we realize that our technical students often pull us of of impossible situations by descending out of the heavens to rescue us at the last moment. And, they are certainly masters of stage technology. For this reason, we name this the Deus Ex Machina Award.


2,500 years ago, the Koryphaios was the leader of the Greek Chorus. Thespis was, of course, the first Actor. He separated himself from the Chorus and was apart from them. His separation allowed the first interactive dialogues to occur.

The function of the Koryphaios was slightly different. He held dialogues with the other actors, began the song and made sure that the circle was maintained, but he was never truly separate from the Chorus. He often stepped out to dialogue with an Actor but he always returned to the choral group. He was, instead, truly the Choral leader, one who stood out but remained a part of the whole.

In honor of this concept of one who leads other actors, who stands out but remains a part of a unified whole, we name this the Koryphaios Award.

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