CULTURE

‘Lysistrata’ gets a cabaret revamping

«I feel like I’m at the top of Mt Olympus, as if living in a dream. I’m deeply moved by the fact that I’m here in Athens to interpret ‘Lysistrata,’ as directed by Michael Cacoyannis. I hope you understand why my voice is trembling and my hands are sweaty,» said Maia Morgenstern during a press conference at the Athens Concert Hall last week. In town for the final rehearsals of the Aristophanic classic, the Romanian actress was preparing for a different kind of «Lysistrata.» The production will be in cabaret form, with the entire play based on two actors interpreting all the roles; Morgenstern will take on the female parts while Vladimir Ivanov will undertake the male ones. Performances are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. The play is jointly produced by the Hellenic Festival and Alekton. «My relationship with ‘Lysistrata’ dates back to 1972, in New York with a more traditional, Aristophanic version, which I staged on Broadway with Melina Mercouri in the lead role. It was a little difficult at the time, to the point that I was thinking of canceling the whole thing. Melina was exceptional, but there were a few glitches in terms of her English,» noted Cacoyannis at the press conference. As far as the current production goes, it was inspired by Morgenstern. «I first saw Morgenstern in a ‘Lola Blau’ production in Athens a few years ago. I was enchanted by her performance,» said Cacoyannis, adding: «I’m having a great time during rehearsals, mostly laughing very hard. The production [a combination of texts, music and dance] has a somewhat childish innocence to it. It’s a little bit a la Folies Bergeres. We dare to go into the grotesque, even the lyrical, especially in the finale. I believe that the audience will leave the theater singing along.» At the Athens Concert Hall, «Lysistrata» is staged with music by Peter Link, who was also behind the music of the original Broadway show. Performances will be in English (besides the direction, Cacoyannis was also in charge of adapting the play), with set and costume design by Yiannis Metsikoff, lighting by Eleftheria Deco, special effects and videos by Yiannis Mastoris, while Alkis Kolias will play the piano and is in charge of the production’s music. Rehearsals began last January, and involved two weeks of intensive labor according to Morgenstern, with the cast and crew coming face to face with a youngster. «Michael Cacoyannis was singing, dancing, laughing, until one day he burst into tears; his vivacity made us very nervous. He’s really interested in the details,» said the actress. «At the same time, he offered us the opportunity to express ourselves and voice our own point of view. I want to thank him for all that he gives to the actors during a simple, everyday rehearsal.» Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333.