CULTURE

Euripides’ ‘Medea’ radically reworked by satirist Bost

One of satirical cartoonist Bost’s best plays, and one of the Stoa Theater’s greatest successes in its 30-year history, was a parody of «Medea» presented in 1993, a radically reworked version of Euripides’ classic. Now, 10 years later, the same theater group is presenting the play in collaboration, this time with the Roumeli Municipal Theater, and support from the Athens Festival. A national summer tour has already begun, which includes two dates at the Herod Atticus Theater in Athens on August 4 and 5. Essentially, the performance is a repeat of 1993’s original production. The stage sets and costumes, made by Bost [aka Mendis Bostantzoglou] himself, are the very same ones used a decade ago. The play’s original soundtrack, composed by Vassilis Dimitriou, has been retained, as has the entire cast, led by the entertaining Lida Protopsalti. Choreography by Maria Alvanou has also remained, as has the production’s director, Thanassis Papageorgiou, who recently spoke to Kathimerini. What made you return to this play? «Medea» is an exceptional play, and the audience liked the performance very much. We’re doing it again so that others may also see it, and those that enjoyed it the first time around can see it again. I think it’s necessary that Bost’s writing is heard every now and then. I consider Bost a great theatrical figure, despite the fact that he is not a theatrical writer. He didn’t know how, and didn’t care to write for theater. But his humor is catalytic, as is his love for this land and its people, which he abuses from beginning to end in every one of his works. He is critical in a delicate way, without being evil or trivial, in all directions. Have any changes been made to the production? Its adjustment for open-air venues had already been made back then, because, right after the Stoa Theater, we performed it at many festivals during the summer of 1993. This time, we’ve taken out some parts that were very relevant to that period, and added others which we’d cut out back then but which now sound far more important. Apart from these additions and reductions, no other changes have been made. And the actors are the same, too, or as unchanged as they can be over a 10-year period. You change and so does the way you act. Now, there are certain things which neither Lida nor I would like to do as we had done back then. Commenting on Bost’s theatrical side, you’ve noted that «we should deal with him seriously…» Isn’t that already happening? No, not at all. Lots of people ask to stage Bost because «he’s funny.» But it’s not like that. Bost slaughters using cotton wool. I always stage Bost as a very heavy, difficult and dark writer. I don’t present him as a comic writer. The comedy emerges alone. If an actor, at rehearsals, interprets a line comically, it’s lousy. «Do it as you would do ‘Aeschylus’,» I say. Generally speaking, Bost’s writing is demanding on actors because his heroes aren’t humans, they’re cartoons. And you’ve got to make them human. Where does the depth and seriousness of Bost’s writing lie? In essence, it’s concealed, because hiding behind each cartoon is a Greek presented in surreal, irregular fashion by Bost… He’s extracted the substance of a Greek. He shows us what we don’t want to see.