The programme of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2015 was recently announced by its artistic director Yorgos Loukos during a press conference that was held at the Benaki Museum. It is a programme that combines various Greek productions, music, dancing while at the same time theatre assumes a central position, with 30 theatrical productions in Athens and 9 in Epidaurus.
From a total of 30 productions scheduled to be performed in Athens, 11 of them are Greek productions; Textilen, a play by Maria Efstathiadi, directed by Victor Arvanitis, I want a country by Andreas Flourakis, directed by Marianna Kalbari, One…Two…Three by Maria Laina, directed by Nikos Chatzopoulos as well as a returning performance of Redshift by Yannis Mavritsakis, directed by Thanos Papakonstantinou. The aforementioned plays have been written by important, contemporary artists, whose work has already been featured at the website of the Greek Play Project.
“Maria Efstathiadi is a keen observer and need for modern staging and gives a surprisingly grand dimension to the stage, where dance theatre coexists with strong writing and elliptical realism with melodrama.” (Victor Arvanitis about Textilen, 9 & 10 June/ Pireos 260)
I want a country was presented in an early form at the Royal Court Theatre in London as a part of the Big Idea: PIIGS festival and was directed by Richard Twyman. It is a play devoid of theatrical acts and characters, without a typical plot or typical dialogues. It is a play about Greece, with the Greek crowd assuming the role of the protagonist. In I want a country Andreas Flourakis humorously and desperately forges an array of familiar phrases that are usually uttered every time we talk about our country. (30 & 31 July/ Pireos 260)
“With space and time unrecorded, a puzzling past and present and an unpredictable future, the only certainty and excruciating reality which remains is language. Every archetypal dilemma inherent in human affairs is successfully imprinted by Maria Laina in the face of the three characters in the play.” (Nikos Chatzopoulos about One…Two…Three…)
Another key concept that the selected plays of the festival are also concerned with is the renegotiation of myth. Yolanda Markopoulou and the Station Athens workshop present a groundbreaking play, We are the Persians, based on Aeschylus “Persians”. Aeschylus’ tragedy gives rise to a group of refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to participate in a choral of warriors and share stories of their own personal battles from contemporary history.
On February 5th 2015 a 21 year old Syrian immigrant was sentenced to 145 years of imprisonment and received a 570.000 fine, sentenced as the sole culprit of the tragic shipwreck at Farmakonisi, an issue that for a long time occupied the Greek and international public opinion. Drawing inspiration from the two, Anestis Azas produces a groundbreaking performance about a man stripped of his own rights, beginning with the exploration of the Modern Greek city. Wishing to expose those certain areas where civil rights are abolished, four performers are asked to navigate between fiction and documentation and confront the brutality of life in the 21st century.
In cooperation with renowned artists involved with theatre and music, Konstantinos Dellas presents a different version of Sophocles’ Electra. In his play we witness the dominance of three female characters, Electra, Clytemnestra and Chrysothemis each one in a different room. What is the object of their conversations when they run into each other? What do they do when they are alone? “The bedroom is where the murder will take place. The final murder will be the event that stops an endless circle and this house forever”, says the director of the performance.
When it premiered in 1993, the play Medea by Bost was seen by 60.000 viewers, a quite astonishing accomplishment at the time. The play will be performed once more during the festival, featuring the exact same cast. Bost’s sharp humor and bitter satire are of an extraordinary contemporary value. “His humor and satire still work and appeal to audiences and our time. Any cultural occurrence is vital in helping us cope with what we are dealing with today.” (Note by Stoa Theatre) (26 & 27 June, Herodeion)
One of the most important literary works of post-war Greek literature, Mission Box by Aris Alexandrou will be staged in the form of a monologue and will be directed by Pantelis Dentakis. The sole survivor of a decisive mission for the outcome of the struggle of the Democratic Army recounts, in the form of apology, the adventure of transferring a closely guarded box. Eventually the box reaches its destination and is revealed to be empty. In the face of the narrator one can recognize the pure, anonymous idealist, who was deceived and trapped in the gears of political party mechanisms. Through his ambiguous narrative, the protagonist raises vital questions concerning the relationship between the individual and History. (28, 29 & 30 June and 1 & 2 July/ Theatre Odou Kykladon)
A quite distinctive play that includes several stories about various forms of disability is The Fan Man or How to dress an elephant by the En Dynamei Theatre ensemble. “Normal is undoubtedly a hopeless word. It is a word that must be defined by a norm – what is not normal, must be different, the other. Yet, who assigned a negative connotation to the word other? And why?” (11 & 12 July/ Pireos 260)
Prodromos Tsinikoris, a young artist who is actively involved with documentary theatre forms in Greece and Germany, has organized an action that will be completed in the course of a few days and is entitled In the middle of the street, inspired by a recent research on newly homeless people in Athens. Viewers will have the opportunity to put themselves in the position of the homeless and hear the various voices and stories of our most silent citizens, by using mp3 players and headphones.
Translation: Katerina Gournaropoulou