‘The Acharnians,’ so old yet so timely

“Corruption and vested interests are always the same and that’s one of the reasons why Aristophanes has survived so well up to now,” said Lakis Lazopoulos, who will be taking on the role of Dicaeopolis in a National Theater summer production of the «Acharnians» beginning this week. In a press conference earlier this week, the production’s participants – director Vangelis Theodoropoulos, translator Pantelis Boukalas, choreographer Angeliki Stellatou and actors Lakis Lazopoulos, Dimitris Piatas and Sotiris Tzevelekos – spoke about the way they approached one of the most popular comedies of ancient times. «What kind of creature is a 20-year-old who sneers at his country in time of war?» asked Boukalas. «Aristophanes had doubts about democracy during his time in the same way that today people like Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore keep a tight rein over their own country, namely today’s model of democracy, the United States. Besides all this, however, the Aristophanic oeuvre is highly poetic and demands to be treated with the utmost respect.» Lazopoulos spoke of the challenges in making an old play seem like it was written not so long ago. «I was not interested in creating some kind of reenactment; I wanted to come up with a real performance,» he added. Sitting next to him, Piatas offered a bitter remark on the subject of Dicaeopolis. «Nowadays, we would allow a Dicaeopolis to establish his own state. Sadly, this state already exists: It’s called Guantanamo.» The production’s director spoke about his own, personal take: «If you keep your eyes open, then you will come up with something modern,» said Theodoropoulos, who, nevertheless avoided making comparisons between the past and the present. «When it comes to Aristophanes, you can’t avoid changing or adding words. What’s more, in the case of Lakis Lazopoulos, it’s not just about being cute, but about a way to help the comedy. Besides, Dicaeopolis and Lazopoulos do have things in common. They both criticize the system; they fight; they create friction.» The first of Aristophanes’ three anti-war comedies, the current production of the «Acharnians» is the fourth to be produced by the National Theater and marks the first time popular comedian Lakis Lazopoulos will collaborate with the state theater company. The production’s music was composed by Thanos Mikroutsikos. The play’s premiere will take place at Delphi on Friday and Saturday, followed by two performances at Epidaurus (July 15 and 16) and a tour of 20 cities around Greece.

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