CULTURE

National Theater ‘Hippolytus’ to open tomorrow

«’ Hippolytus’ is a very special play to me. It has many traps and it has haunted me ever since I was taught the play, in my first year at the Philosophy Department. From the first moment, I was struck by the strange story of the pure young man who falls victim to his obsession with virginity,» said Vassilis Nikolaidis at a recent press conference. The director of the National Theater production is staging «Hippolytus» 50 years after that same play, directed by Dimitris Rondiris, opened the first Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama. Nikolaidis described «Hippolytus» as a «study on unfulfilled passion.» The play will open tomorrow at Dodoni and will then be staged at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus on July 9 and 10. «The goddess Aphrodite, who opens the play, takes her revenge on Hippolytus through a particularly complex plan, which involves all of his family: his stepmother Phaedra, her nurse, his father Theseus but also the god Poseidon. In this performance, we tried to lay the emphasis on Phaedra’s passion,» said Nikolaidis. Apart from Euripides’ play, the show also includes five small extracts from the first «Hippolytus» play that have survived and verses from Seneca’s, Racine’s and Ritsos’s «Phaedra,» which will act as «small commentaries on Phaedra and Hippolytus’ journey through time.» Nikolaidis chose to use the music that Dimitris Mitropoulos composed for the 1954 performance. «I find similarities between watching ancient drama and acting in it. There is no instructions manual. My concern was how to handle such a play by remaining honest,» said Constantinos Markoulakis, who plays Hippolytus. Firareti Komninou talked about the part of Phaedra. «She moves from apathy, to a fit [of passion] and then harshness. Her passion cannot be put into words, it can only be expressed in bodily action. Phaedra is a creature torn between her social image and the tension of the conquering female. It is a role with many transformations and it is very interesting from an actress’s point of view. It is not a quiet role.» The sets and costumes are by Giorgos Patsas, the choreography by Ersi Pitta and Melina Paionidou was the music coach. The other parts are played by Betty Valassi (Nurse), Maria Nafpliotou (Aphrodite), Marianthe Sondaki (Artemis), Christos Parlas (Theseus), Marina Xenou (Handmaid), Giorgos Tsimidis (Servant) and others.