Ancient land of theater to get a new, modern venue

A modern, open-air amphitheater will soon stand near the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus, to be used primarily for performances of ancient drama for which the centuries-old structure is not suitable. The Culture Ministry has approved proposals for the theater, having decided in favor of a 1,500-seat structure in a location that has already been chosen, and which is close to the ancient theater but will not damage the archaeological site or be a blot on landscape. The ministry is now carrying out a final examination of the location, building schedule and purpose of the theater. The site that has been chosen is Melana, situated behind the left corner of the ancient theater, 400 meters from the dressing rooms and the Xenia Hotel and easily accessible from the Horn Estate. It is not clear whether the new theater, like the one set up at the Temple of Olympic Zeus for Vangelis Papathanassiou’s concert, will be prefabricated or not. It will be used instead of the ancient theater, which is inconvenient. The Central Archaeological Council will announce its decision when the studies are finalized. The theater was to have been ready by last summer but the completion date has been postponed to the summer of 2003. The idea of creating a new theater in the area is by no means new. When Thanos Mikroutsikos was president of the Epidaurus Festival, he was keen to have a new theater that could host both ancient drama with music and dance performances. The current president of the Hellenic Festival, Periklis Koukos, has adopted the idea. In addition to catering for the needs of the festival, the new theater will also host many events for the Cultural Olympiad, which will sponsor the theater.

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