Savvopoulos’s ‘Acharnians’ finally returns to the stage

«I got involved with ‘Acharnians’ upon a commision by the Theatro Technis, translating, on my initiative, what I had to set to music, not out of ambition but because I can’t write music without also writing the words,» Dionysis Savvopoulos explained on his 1977 album cover. «It’s the nature of my work.» Eventually his work was not staged at Karolos Koun’s Theatro Technis, he explained on the album cover. But in the winter of 1976-77, he presented it in Plaka with some changes in the music, additional narratives and commentaries, and drawings by artist Alexis Kyritsopoulos. Almost 30 years later, the finished product of Savvopoulos’s «Acharnians» will be staged at the Arts Center of Halandri, on May 26 and 27, with sets by Alekos Fassianos. The production will then travel to various cities around Greece during the summer, including Delphi and Sani in Halkidiki. Savvopoulos’s work was the height of hope for Greek singing at a time when challenge, emotion and doubt were at the forefront. This is not the case today. «Acharnians» is a wonderful celebration full of reversals, cheerfulness, humor and youthful tension. It is a theater ritual that encompasses many voices but, above all, it is a daring orchestration, which ranges from Byzantine melodies to traditional Greek songs and from Hadjidakis to folk moments. «We will present ‘Acharnians’ as on the album, maybe a longer version than that of the album because even then we had to cut things off,» Savvopoulos told Kathimerini. «We will play what we presented at the Rigas venue in 1976, a show of about 50 minutes with young singers. We will also play extracts from the production of ‘Plutus,’ which Ronconi directed in 1985 for the National Theater.» In a few days, Savvopoulos will travel to Japan to represent Greece at the EXPO 2005 along with Eleftheria Arvanitaki and Yiannis Kotsiras. That is where, on May 20, he will give a small taste of his «Acharnians,» choreographed by Sofia Spyratou. Savvopoulos described his work as «songs for young singers.» It is a theater play which has been adapted into a musical, with quality lyrics and dialogues, reversals and many daring instances, as well as many political references. «We didn’t really have censorship problems with the ministry, but we had problems with the censorship which unofficially prevailed in young people’s political groups,» Savvopoulos says. «There was a leftist establishment which didn’t want any satirical innuendos against Yiannis Ritsos or Mikis Theodorakis, although the ironic comments were not made against those personalities but against certain stereotypes that existed back then and had to do with their lyrics.»