The body as an icon of desire

Scottish stage director Alister Lownie and the British drama group Workhorse Productions are coming to Athens’s Hororoes Theater for a run of performances, starting this evening and lasting until late December, of Euripides’ «Hippolytus,» with a twist. «The conflict between body and mind lies at the center of Euripides’ play and of our production,» says the director in a note. «We focus on the body as an icon of desire, in a play where the bodies do not always tell the truth.» The cast, led by Ben Farrow in the title role, is composed of nine actors from England, Italy and America. The costumes, lighting and sets – «a fantasy space in which the story narrated by the goddess Aphrodite is acted out» – are designed by Greece’s Andreas Skourtis. «We would like to create a sense of physical presence where it is not,» says Lownie of the sets. «Specifically, we aim to use light to create the appearance of something tangible; a character might lean on a column made purely of light, for example, or only a tiny part of them may be visible. Apart from extending the aesthetics of the body on stage, this highlights another theme of the play: truth and perception. The real elements, such as water in which Hippolytus can wash, interact with the unreal/imagined to celebrate the body as the focus of the audience’s visual and mental focus.» The play will be in English and Ancient Greek with modern Greek supertitles. «The text has been rewritten with an emphasis on the erotic and physical language, while giving a strong sense of the power inherent in the major characters,» notes the director. «Ancient Greek has been used in some songs and lines which are not required to follow the plot, creating an atmospheric soundscape. This, and the other devised sound of the chorus, forms the musical background to scenes: even the sound thus returns us to the play’s central subject; our own bodies.» Experimental Workhorse Productions is an experimental theater group that presents plays in venues around Europe, investigating new theatrical forms and examining theatrical traditions in different countries. «Hippolytus» is the group’s first foray into ancient drama. «It will be interesting to present the play to an audience so well acquainted with ancient drama,» says Lownie, who spent a substantial amount of time researching which play to stage and then extensively reading up on the work. «Using lighting and movement to create a closer relationship between the audience and the bodies on stage, we will explore the destructive power of (unfulfilled) desire and its repression,» explains the director. Hororoes Theater, 16 Iakhou, Gazi, tel 210.347.9426.

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