Aristophanes set in the 50s Greece of political change

Director Sotiris Hadzakis’s take on Aristophanes’ classic comedy «The Thesmophoriazussae» is set in 1950s Greece, not just in terms of style and aesthetic, but also in the political environment of the era. All the main players of the National Theater production were present at the recent press conference at the Rex-Kotopouli Theater: the director, translator K.H. Myris, choreographer Frosso Korrou, Giorgos Armenis, who will play the part of Mnesilochus (he first performed that role in 1980, under Karolos Koun), Alexandros Mylonas, who will play Agathonas, Vassilis Haralambopoulos, who plays Euripides, and others. «The play was written at a time of despair for ancient Athens; the city was experiencing the aftermath of the Sicilian disaster, with Alcibiades promising financial help from Persia in exchange for the city changing its government from a democracy to an oligarchy. That is what led me to place the comedy in the 1950s, with the end of the Nazi occupation and the civil war, the poverty, the Marshall Plan, but all for the gain of political change. The production uses a lot of characters from the literature and entertainment of the time, but it does not base itself solely on the folklore of the 1950s, it just borrows some things from it,» said Hadzakis. «This production symbolizes my coming to terms with old Greek cinema,» continued Hadzakis, adding a personal touch to the press conference. «That is because Aristophanes’ Mnesilochus reminds me of the wretched characters played so frequently by Iliopoulos, Avlonitis, Papayiannopoulos, but mostly Thanassis Vengos. I actually dedicate this play to Frangiskos Manelis, a great bouzouki player at the time, who often teamed up with Thanassis Vengos. «We haven’t got any qualms about our version of ‘The Thesmophoriazussae.’ It is a comedy and we wanted it to resonate with the audience and get a laugh.» Draw of the play Armenis, a seasoned and widely loved actor/director, stressed his joy at playing at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus once more, because before this role was offered to him he believed he was through with Epidaurus. For his part, Haralambopoulos said that it was a «Thesmophoriazussae» performance he watched as a teenager which compelled him to be an actor, adding that playing next to an actor of Armenis’s caliber «fills me with awe.» «The Thesmophoriazussae» opened at the Ancient Theater of Philippi on Saturday and will be staged at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus on July 12 and 22. For more information on the production and where to buy tickets for Epidaurus, see «On Stage,» Page 6.