Despite the adverse conditions, theater buffs are being treated to a new production that is being brought to their screens in five performances broadcast live, starting on Friday night.
The prospect of live theater is not the only reason to be excited about “Prometheus Bound,” the first Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center production staged at an independent venue. There’s also the story itself, an archetypal myth made into an emblematic play by Aeschylus with a new translation by poet Nikos A. Panagiotopoulos. And the presence of Dimitris Kamarotos who conceived the project, composed the music and curated the audio dramaturgy. But also the exceptional cast and crew, including actors Amalia Moutousi and Konstantinos Avarikiotis, mezzo-soprano Anna Pangalou and musicians Katerina Kostantourou and Christos Liatsos.
Hosting this musical-theatrical-cinematic venture is the Vallianio Megaro building on Panepistimiou Street in central Athens, the historic seat of the National Library of Greece. In its reading room, Prometheus will talk of the gift of fire, the gift he gave mankind despite the heavy price he would pay, and the freedom bestowed upon man by knowledge.
The production may be remote, streamed via Zoom, but Moutousi stresses that she never felt that it was anything but a proper theatrical experience.
“I know where I have to be, what I am looking for, but not what I will experience during the show. It is all brand new,” she says of the project, which is a first for her.
“I do not think of this as more or less ‘live’ than any other show. I would say it’s live in a different way, in a different ‘language’ than what we have experienced so far,” she adds.
The production is part of the SNF Cultural Foundation’s “Faces of Heroes” series, the theme inspiring its program of events celebrating the bicentenary of the Greek War of Independence. Staging the play in the historic Vallianio Megaro was the product of close cooperation between the SNF and the National Library in Greece.
“There is a causal relationship between ‘Prometheus’ and the Vallianio. Before I even discovered the institutions interested in this production, I pictured a production of ‘Prometheus’ in the reading room; the space where knowledge is generated and disseminated, where Prometheus could have acted. The dialogue between knowledge and freedom, a freedom offered by knowledge itself, are basic components of the myth,” says Kamarotos.
The space also has a profound impact on the directorial approach.
“It is natural that the Library is the star of the show. The concept of mise-en-scene is turned on its head in this production, because it is seen through the lens of a camera and the play becomes a film. The environment is no longer a shell in which the drama takes place but is now a part of the narrative using items like books, heirlooms, manuscripts, pages from the script, notes from the cast and crew,” says Kamarotos.
The two actors portray all the parts in the play and the mezzo-soprano sings the part of the Chorus. Thanks to sound masking technology, the audience will be able to understand the part the actors are portraying at any given time. The script acts like a score, the dialogue like a melody of words and the human voice is used as a musical instrument.
“Prometheus Bound” will be available for viewing via snfcc.org, this Friday and Saturday and on March 5-7, at 8.30 p.m., free of charge.