‘The Tempest,’ a play of farewell

It looks like Spyros Evangelatos has set a new record in the staging of Shakespearean plays in this country. If the figures are right, three Greek directors – Dimitris Rontiris, Alexis Solomos and Evangelatos – had each staged 11 of Shakespeare’s works. But now Evangelatos has just directed «The Tempest» at the Amphi-Theater in Athens, adding one more to his list. «This play has been on my mind for years,» says the director. «Primarily because of the element of farewell which runs through it and defines it. Essentially, it was Shakespeare’s last play and almost all of his biographers agree that it is his most autobiographical. Especially in one of the final monologues – when Prospero (Christos Kalavrouzos) bids his magic tricks goodbye, breaks his wand and gets rid of his books. This is Shakespeare himself, leaving the art of the theater behind him. ‘And thence retire me to Milan, where every third thought shall be my grave,’ says Prospero and it’s as if Shakespeare is saying, ‘I’m going back to Stratford and I’m not going to be involved in theater anymore,’ which is exactly what happened, with him dying a few years later.» Why is this element of farewell so dear to the creator and the soul behind the Amphi-Theater? «We all have it at different points in our lives. Personally, I’ve had it since adolescence: l get the feeling that I get to a certain point – a period in my life, a place, a way of thinking – and I say goodbye. It’s not, however, the sense of finality that Prospero feels, but a sense of the perpetual and repetitive farewells that we come across in life. It’s something that I find very intriguing.» Another element that draws him to the play is a strange kind of poetry emanating from the character of Caliban (Giorgos Bougos). «Here’s this wild, uncivilized and primitive being, who is, nonetheless, poetic. When two drunks arrive on Prospero’s island, for instance, they are scared by Ariel’s (Popi Lyberopoulou) music. Caliban tells them not be scared of music, because it makes people dream of treasures. How do the two men react to this? They are excited about the island’s free-of-charge music.» How did Evangelatos deal with the play’s demand for dramatic set changes? «When it comes to directing Shakespeare, my point of departure is that each play was written to be performed in a bare loft,» says Evangelatos. «Besides, Agni Doutsi developed a wonderful, abstract set design, which is at the same time, warm and fairy tale-like.» The play is based on a translation by Errikos Belies, with music by Yiannis Anastassopoulos, while the cast includes Maria Danai Sdoungou, Asimaki Alexiou, Constantinos Georgiou, Ion Kesoulis, Antonis Maros, Costis Papaioannou, Panayiotis Raptakis and Giorgos Spanopoulos. Amphi-Theater, 111 Adrianou, Plaka, tel 210.323.3644.