‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ takes the stage

Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel «The Last Temptation of Christ,» a masterpiece of modern Greek literature, is being staged for the first time. Adapted and directed by Sotiris Hadzakis, the play opened last Thursday at the New Stage of the National Theater of Greece. The performance coincides with the celebration of the 120-year anniversary of the writer’s birth. «This is a novel that has been through a lot. It moves us and we love it. ‘The Last Temptation’ is an old story for me. It belongs to the same genre as Alexandros Papadiamantis’s ‘Murderess,’ Theodorakis’s ‘Song of the Dead Brother,’ ‘The Night of the Goat’ and another performance based on a work by Roidis that has yet to be presented,» said Hadzakis at a recent press conference. The novel’s adaptation went through six stages before it reached its final form. «The rough language of Kazantzakis reveals an artist who reflects Renaissance thinking. He is a true Cretan and a citizen of the world at the same time. The adaptation tried to hew to the author’s personality and render the language unaltered,» Hadzakis said. He kept those characters from the novel that could function in a play, included a narrator and used key phrases which are repeated like motifs. «The performance follows the method of medieval ritual dramas,» he said, talking about the mise en scene. «It is an austere ritual, with a series of events based on Greek folk civilization and songs from all over Greece. The play has 63 scenes, all of them morally and stylistically similar, which take place on a stage with minimal set design. The characters create a metaphysical atmosphere. The mysticism of the play made us work very hard.» «It is very difficult to follow Jesus’s life and sufferings through Kazantzakis’s plot. One must get used to the language, its poetic aspect and the spiritual environment. I am presenting the public with the story of a child that goes through all the temptations but remains unscathed. We do not aim at either being provocative or blasphemous. We are not able to judge theological matters nor do we wish to upset the Church. I want the show to avoid getting caught up in media controversy. The play is sacred. As Kazantzakis himself wrote, ‘The Last Temptation is the tormenting adventure of a being that becomes entangled in the divine plan.’» The cast The show’s set design is by Giorgos Patsas and the costumes are by Ersi Drini. Kiki Baka is responsible for movement and Martha Fritzila for voice training and music. Young actor Dimitris Agartzidis plays the part of Jesus, Rania Economidou is the Virgin Mary, Gogo Brembou is Mary Magdalene and Nikos Georgakis is Judas. Other actors include Cosmas Fondoukis, Manolis Siragakis, Vassilis Risvas, Manolis Ionas, Dimitris Mylonas, Nikos Kamondos, Costas Falelakis, Giorgos Gatzios, Stratos Menoutis, Tania Papadopoulou, Thodoris Polyzonis and others. National Theater – New Stage, 22 Aghiou Constantinou, tel 210.522.3242.