New ‘Medea’ production to premiere at Ohrid festival

“Nobody could feel entirely prepared for such an experience,» stage director Stathis Livathinos told a recent news conference just days ahead of the National Theater’s premiere of «Medea» at Ohrid’s annual international festival on Sunday, July 20. Euripides’ tragedy marks the director’s first foray into ancient drama, which he said came about after Nikos Kourkoulos, the National Theater’s artistic director, «pushed us out into the open without a parachute.» Livathinos admitted feeling uncomfortable about discussing the preparations for his production, which will be performed on two evenings at Epidaurus later this summer, on August 8 and 9, besides its July appearance in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). «It’s difficult to talk about ancient drama without making trivial remarks,» said Livathinos, who added that his cast, which stars Tamila Koulieva as Medea, spent some six months preparing. «Don’t think that it was a strain, imagine lots of joy,» he added. Responding to a reporter’s question on how he viewed ancient drama, Livathinos noted: «Ancient drama is a type of theater that could not exist unless it involved team effort. Our aim is to present ourselves at Epidaurus as a team of people who confronted the unknown with the means it possessed.» Livathinos’s production was translated by Stratis Paschalis, a poet, who received praise from the director for his result. Livathinos said the entire cast was moved by the text as «translations are a new work prompted by the work itself.» Like Livathinos, Paschalis also admitted feeling uneasy about tackling ancient drama. «I confronted the proposal with awe and hesitation. This is the first time I’ve dealt with converting ancient drama into modern Greek. All I was equipped with was my poetic sensibility and experience, as well as the ancient Greek I learnt from good friends in the 1970s,» said the production’s translator. «The artistic challenge was quite tempting, which, to a certain point, helped me overcome my hesitation, but not the awe I felt,» he added. Besides Koulieva, the cast includes talented younger-generation actors including Yiannis Mavritsakis as Jason, Dimitris Imellos as Creon, and Vassilis Andreou as Aegeus. The sets and costumes were designed by Eleni Manolopoulou, the music was composed by Thodoris Abatzis, choreography was provided by Mariela Nestora, and two special collaborators, Irina Promptova and Andrei Stshukin, advised the cast on vocal delivery and movement, respectively. Following its July 20 premiere in Ohrid, the production will travel to Greece for two performances on Samos, on July 27 and 28, two in Epidaurus on August 8 and 9, as well as a further eight stagings at eight other provincial cities.

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