Greek stage director in Beijing

The Beijing 2008 Olympic organizing committee is moving ahead in its preparations, not just with the bird nest-shaped Olympic stadium, but with its Cultural Olympiad program as well. Among the events being scheduled is a performance of Aeschylus’ «Oresteia,» directed by Greece’s Theodoros Terzopoulos, which the director says he will be staging with Chinese actors and Tibetan monks as musicians. The agreement was made a few days ago in Beijing, where Terzopoulos staged his play «Descent» – relating Hercules’ journey to Hades, and based on the tragedies «Trachiniae» and «The Madness of Hercules.» Prior to this show, Terzopoulos had presented «The Persians» at Moscow’s Meyerhold Center – featuring Meyerhold postgraduate actors and directors from the former Soviet states – inaugurating with it the Russian capital’s annual European Theater Festival. The performance is also due to be performed in St Petersburg, as well as in other cities of the former USSR. For his company in Athens at the Attis Theater, Terzopoulos has scheduled a three-part program of Samuel Beckett’s short plays that will be completed in two phases starting with «Rockaby.» The play will premier on Wednesday with actress Sofia Michopoulou, as well as Terzopoulos in a «surprise» role. «Rockaby» depicts an elderly woman living in solitude. We see her, rocking incessantly back and forth, as the audience hears her bitter inner thoughts, played on a tape recorder. Terzopoulos himself will do the narration, while Michopoulou will only repeat a few phrases, letting her body and facial expressions convey the greater part of the interpretation. «This is something that came up during a very interesting rehearsal, and Sofia and I decided to keep it,» explains the director. Furthermore, this performance will not have a rocking chair as prop, but the woman’s swaying will be constant – seen through an aperture in a large box that symbolizes the moment of birth, along with the swaying, which symbolizes death. «Beckett wrote this play when he was old,» says Terzopoulos. «He examined, as he did in many of his short plays, the question of death. Not simply biological death but spiritual death as well, which is often a lot more violent. I must admit that this is something that has concerned me of late.» Come January, «Rockaby,» which runs for just 40 minutes, will be complemented by two other Beckett pieces: «Ohio Impromptu,» featuring four young actors who the director says it has been a joy to work with, and a series of improvised pieces based on Beckett’s prose work and developed by Terzopoulos’s longtime associate Tassos Dimas. As of mid-February, the Beckett triptych will run alongside Terzopoulos’s German production of «Epigonoi» – based on extracts from Aeschylus’ lost works – which he staged with the Dusseldorf Theater in Delphi last summer. The same play will go on tour in Latin America next summer, and is then to be adapted with an all-female cast (playing women raped by Zeus) to feature in the events in Genoa as part of its role as European Cultural Capital 2004.