Arrogance of power in tragedy connects past with present

Certain ancient drama productions cannot help but haunt Greek theater. Such is the case with the Karolos Koun Theatro Technis production of Aeschylus’ play «The Persians,» which is always a point of reference every time younger artists stage this particular tragedy. This year, Lydia Koniordou directs as well as starring as Atossa, the mother of the Persian king in the tragedy. The National Theater production, which has already opened, will go on stage at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus on Friday and Saturday. «No matter how differently we approached the play, the shadow of the great teachers, of Koun and (Dimitris) Rondiris, and the reference to their work was frequent and creative during rehearsals. That is why we dedicate the performance to them,» said Koniordou. «I didn’t choose the play, it chose me,» she continued. «I felt it was absolutely necessary that it should be heard once more today. The play is about the arrogance of power, something we see threatening the entire planet these days. Those who have the power and the wealth cross the line and impose their will to the whole world, underestimating not only the different civilizations but the problems of their own civilization too. Because that civilization is about to collapse and nobody is taking the warning signs seriously. Similarly, in the tragedy nobody paid attention to Atossa’s dream.» Koniordou said that studying the tragedy was important. «It revealed a basic ‘key’ which unlocked the text on all levels – the words, movement, music, lights, everything – and with which we worked in workshops with the actors from March 2005 to today. In this tragedy, the inner struggles must not be made obvious, since the Persian civilization wants all citizens to be obedient and does not allow any objections. Today’s Western civilization has the same arrogance. It does not allow people to voice a different opinion or see things differently. In a civilization that does not want to see what is different and express itself, change can only come about through rifts. Repressed tension brings about rifts, that is how collapse starts.» In movement, Koniordou said, she and the other actors studied the inner dynamics of expressive forms such as break dancing. «Apostolia Papadamaki expressed that rift by orchestrating a movement like a sudden earthquake and Takis Farazis too, with his music which is more of a compilation of sounds and screams with computers, synthesizers and more,» she said. «The same applies to the lights (by Lefteris Papadopoulos), where changes happen abruptly and not via the fade-in-fade-out technique. And the acting, of course, rendered that rift nicely, with Yiannis Kranas who plays Darius and Christos Loulis as Xerxes, as well as the eight actors who alternate as the messenger and the Chorus, which plays a leading part. I am really grateful to those kids. The sets and costumes, by Lili Kentaka, remained true to the general historical setting. This production aims at bridging the classical past with modern ways of expression. We don’t want to see a reproduction of something old, but an artistic event of modern dynamics, closely linked to our times.»