CULTURE

Sum-up from man on mission

«I always saw myself as being on a mission at the State Theater of Northern Greece. I recognized that there were problems, but what I constantly wanted was the renewal of a great state institution which is naturally sluggish, slightly bureaucratic and not particularly artistic. Although interesting things did happen, we are still working in that direction.» Shortly before continuing his theater career independently, Victor Ardittis directed his last play with the State Theater of Northern Greece, which is also his first ancient tragedy: Sophocles’ «Women of Trachis,» the poet’s least-known play in contemporary theater, which opened recently at Thessaloniki’s Dassos Theater. The peculiarly contemporary tragedy of darkness and blindness, which seems to be set in a world abandoned by the gods, appears different and provocative. «This is not the case,» said the director in an interview to Kathimerini. «The production had to deal with a play that was naturally peculiar. I am not making any suggestions about ancient tragedy; I merely tried to shed some light on the questions posed by the play and to respond to the material with a certain innocence.» The play, which the State Theater of Northern Greece staged 20 years ago, wavers between «The Oresteia» and the Odyssey in terms of the roughness of the location and the speech, and is detached from «what we – wrongly – consider to be the rules of ancient tragedy. The play shows Sophocles as a humanist, but at the same time as a dark poet, focused on highlighting the depths of the human spirit. It is very contemporary and daring, I would say it comes close to Strindberg or Beckett.» The isolated setting for the play is also reminiscent of Beckett. The myth deals with a couple’s troubles: a woman who kills her husband because he is cheating on her, a teenager who involuntarily kills his mother… The characters that shape the poet’s dark world with amazing contradictions appear on Damianos Zarifis’s sets, a rough and dirty landscape with black trees. The peculiarities and particularities of the play can be traced to the character of Deianeira and the location. There is also a third particularity: the stage absence of Deianeira and Hercules. The couple (played by Aneza Papadopoulou and Akylas Karazissis) not only do not meet, but each of them plays in two different worlds, two different kinds of theater. The director, facing in his first ancient drama performance, the deadlock of presenting either a standardized performance or a provocative and subversive one, made his decision. «We have exhausted all suggestions. Nothing can be more subversive, more original or more classical anymore. We are once more facing the research of the composition, the style and the issues we have to deal with in order to stage ancient tragedy.» The music for the production is by Costas Vomvolos and the choreography is by Constantinos Rigos. Actors also include Yiannis Perlegas, Dimitris Kolovos, Sakis Petkidis, Iphigenia Deliyiannidou, Yiannis Tsortekis, Eftychia Yiakoumi, Elena Topalidou and Dimitris Karellis.