Ancient ‘Peace’ at Epidaurus

«Anyone who attends the performance at Epidaurus will laugh a lot but also cry a lot.» Popular actor Thymios Karakatsanis’s twofold promise not only reflected his ease at communication, but also, in a way, depicted the hardships that the National Theater of Northern Greece currently faces due, mostly, to financial problems. Yet the significance of performing at Epidaurus overshadowed everything else at the recent press conference. The theater’s artistic director, Nikitas Tsakiroglou, referred to the latest production of Aristophanes’ comedy «Peace» as one of the greatest productions in the theater’s history. He also thanked the Hellenic Festival, because, as he said, the second most important theater organization in Greece was not given second-rate treatment as used to be the case. That change of attitude was reflected in the «good dates» that the National Theater of Northern Greece was given at Epidaurus this year – tomorrow and Saturday. The performance’s greatest asset is leading actor Thymios Karakatsanis, widely loved by Greek audiences and perfectly suited to works by Aristophanes. Karakatsanis will play the part of Trygaeus. The play opened last Friday at the Ancient Theater of Philippi near Kavala and, according to the producers, was warmly received. «We wanted to convey Aristophanes’ message to the contemporary viewer without falling into the trap of producing a revue,» said director Yiannis Iordanidis. He added that they had created a modern, fast-paced performance. Despite Karakatsanis’s teasing attitude – who joked that Bush and Blair should watch the play (which praises the virtues of peace) – a melancholy feeling, resulting from the theater’s financial hardships, prevailed. Karakatsanis himself referred to emotions and disappointment. He explained that there had been plans to take the production to the United States, an ambition now very difficult to realize. «Given our large company, a journey to the US would add 500,000 euros to our budget,» said Tsakiroglou. In an indirect appeal to the Ministry of Culture, Tsakiroglou asked the state for financial aid in order for the National Theater of Northern Greece to spread its wings. The theater used a new translation by K.H. Myris, under Iordanidis’s direction. The sets are designed by Giorgos Souglidis with costumes by Kenny MacLellan. The music is by Giorgos Christianakis and choreography by Issidoros Sideris. Tickets are available at the Hellenic Festival box office, situated at 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.928.2900, and at the theater box office. For credit card reservations, call the same number.

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