Staging two versions of Aeschylus’ tragedy

In 458 BC when Aeschylus first presented «Eumenides,» it happened to coincide with the 80th Olympiad. Now, this third part of the Oresteia trilogy, which is to be staged this Saturday and Sunday at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, also coincides with the first day of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. This happy coincidence was one of the reasons behind Anna Synodinou’s choosing to present, with her Greek Stage troop, this tragedy at this year’s Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama, which is celebrating its 50th birthday. After a five-year absence, the actress-turned-director makes a comeback by directing as well as starring (she plays the part of Athena) in the play. In «Eumenides,» the mythological character Orestes is haunted by the Furies (Erinyes) after the murder of his mother Clytemnestra. He seeks asylum in Athens and is acquitted by the judges of the Areopagus, a specially formed mortal jury which decide his fate. After the acquittal of Orestes, who enjoys the divine favor of the goddess Athena, the Furies are honored as the Eumenides. There are two facets to Synodinou’s undertaking, as it is not restricted to merely rendering Aeschylus’ tragedy in modern Greek with the help of K.H. Myris’s translation, which is the version the audience will see at Epidaurus. On September 15, «Eumenides» will also be staged at the Herod Atticus Theater in Ancient Greek, with a chorus consisting of men, while the modern Greek version will follow the same evening with a chorus of women. Synodinou’s aim is for this double bill to prompt a new trend in Greek theater: «I do not see why ancient plays should not be staged in the language in which they were written,» she said at a recent press conference, pointing out that many foreign directors have produced ancient drama in the Ancient Greek language. The production’s sets and costumes are by Laloula Chryssikopoulou. Music composition is by Nikos Xanthoulis, who composed two different musical scores to accompany each version of the play. The choreography is by Haris Mandafounis, who also directed the chorus, while Nikos Synodinos was the music tutor. The remaining leading parts are played by Pepi Metalidou (as the Pythia prophetess), Mania Techritzoglou (as the ghost of Clytemnestra), Costas Athanassopoulos (as Orestes) and Constantinos Constantopoulos (as Apollo). Instead of the usual Friday and Saturday performances at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, the tragedy will be staged on Saturday and Sunday due to the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday. For tickets to the play see the «On Stage» list on Page 6.

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