A three-faced Dionysus goes back to nature

For nearly 20 years, Isidoros Sideris has been a hardworking professional of dance and theater, choreographing ancient drama in theater productions as well as managing his own dance/theater company, Theatrokinisi. The troupe is entering a new creative chapter these days, moving closer to the theater – to «physical theater» according to Sideris – with a production of Euripides’ «Bacchae.» A co-production with the Athens Concert Hall, the production will be presented at the Concert Hall tonight and tomorrow before moving on to other locations (Veria on Thursday and Pafos Ancient Theater in Cyprus on August 23 and 24, among others). The fact that Sideris has picked actors, rather than dancers, to perform – the cast led by Dimitra Hatoupi as Agave – is particularly intriguing and raises some questions. Why did you choose «The Bacchae» in the first place? I’ve always wanted to work on this play, but I also think that it is appropriate for what I want to do, which is physical theater. What is «physical theater,» exactly? It’s when Dionysus’s swirl of sounds and vibrations enters the body of the actor. When the actor’s sound and speech is triggered by movement. How much of Euripides’ text fits into such a performance? All of it. The complete text based on Giorgos Himonas’s translation, in this case. This is really a mixture of speech and movement. How is this different from other ancient drama productions, where we have narrative, movement, music and choreography, for instance? What we have here is an extreme form of movement, which is not dancing, however. First comes movement, followed by the text. How important is stage direction in the performance? It is of upmost importance, and that is why the sets were ready before the rehearsals started. All of the play’s parts, including the chorus, operate in extreme ways, even acrobatic ones. The set’s construction is based on pipes, out of which grows ivy, the latter steadily suffocating the city of Thebes. The same materials are used for Pentheus’s domain of power, which is a sphere. The sets were designed by Yiannis Katranitsas and costumes by Stavros Andonopoulos, and there are three different actors interpreting three different facets of Dionysus. Why do you divide the character into three? In mythology, in pottery as well as in the play, Dionysus takes on different forms, including that of a bull, a snake, a lion or that of a man, when he appears in front of Pentheus, for instance. In a number of scenes, like at the beginning and the end, all three figures appear on stage simultaneously. In your opinion, is Dionysiac rhythm very much relevant today? Through this play, Dionysiac worship, and of course Euripides, are demanding a return to mother nature. At the time, the city of Athens was entering a period of decadence; decay was evident all over, in the same way that today, man is leading nature to destruction. Dionysus tried to bring people to their senses, but ended up being an avenger, because they did not accept him. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2000. For reservations call 210.728.2150 or via the Internet on www.megaron. gr.