CULTURE

Exciting summer season for Ancient Theater of Epidaurus

Commencing this year and lasting until 2004, the Cultural Olympiad will make its presence strongly felt at the festival of ancient drama at Epidaurus. Not only will it contribute to the planning of the festival program by participating with productions of its own, but it has also bravely undertaken to establish a second theater near the ancient theater where experimental productions of ancient drama and various other events will be staged. The formal announcement was made recently by Minister of Culture Evangelos Venizelos (in charge of the Cultural Olympiad), the junior development minister, Dimitris Georgakopoulos (in charge of the Hellenic Festival), the Festival president, Periklis Koukos, and the managing director of the Cultural Olympiad, Manuela Pavlidou. The representatives of the two organizations presented the first fruits of their cooperation, not only with respect to the Epidaurus Festival, but also to the Athens Festival at the Herod Atticus Theater, where, on the initiative of the Cultural Olympiad, an interesting month of drama is to be held this June. Participants will include many Greek and foreign artists, such as the Spaniards Carlos Saura and Nuria Espert, Maia Morgenstern of Romania, Lithuanian Eimuntas Nekrosius, and Greek artists such as Michael Cacoyannis and Giorgos Michailides. The program also includes Iakovos Kambanellis’s latest play, «A Comedy,» (Mia komodia), whose subject is the touristification of Hades! Well-known gods, demi-gods and heroes are paraded in it as shareholders in the multinational that wants to turn Hades into Myconos. An abundance of events The program for this year’s Epidaurus Festival will be spread over 12 summer weekends, and not eight as was the case in the past. Ten of these weekends will be taken up with the festival’s formal program for 2002 (see table), and the other two weekends will be the opening (with a production by Peter Stein) and closing of the festival (with Mikis Theodorakis’s opera «Lysistrata»), all at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus. The Cultural Olympiad’s contribution to this year’s Epidaurus Festival includes not only Theodorakis’s opera, but also the Royal National Theater of England’s production of «The Bacchae,» directed by Peter Hall, as well as the staging of the so-called Theban Cycle. This last spans four tragedies (three performed in German) with set designs by the internationally renowned Yiannis Kounelis, and will be performed over two evenings (two each evening) on July 19 and 20. The remaining eight productions are part of the Hellenic Festival program and were determined in the usual manner, serving certain vested interests: two performances for the National Theater, and one each for the State Theater of Northern Greece, the Theatrical Organization of Cyprus, Theatro Technis, and the Spyros Evangelatos Amphi-Theater. One of the two remaining spare slots was given this year to Thymios Karakatsanis, while the other went to Giorgos Michalakopoulos and Mirka Papaconstantinou. The government ministers and the representatives of the two collaborative bodies spoke of a good working relationship and mutual understanding, which will continue over the next two years. Venizelos made special reference to the new theater which will be built in the vicinity of Epidaurus, noting that it will be built in a way that will not blight the landscape nor damage the archaeological remains. Koukos noted that the initiatives first taken last year with respect to the Epidaurus Festival (tours of other regions, video recording of rehearsals and expanding the costume exhibition) will continue. So will the organization, together with the Cultural Olympiad and the Desmoi Center, of a symposium on the subject «From Epic to Drama,» which will take place in Nafplion from August 28 to September 1. ‘Theater Month’ (June) at the Herod Atticus May 31: «Salome.» A dance theater production directed by Carlos Saura, starring Aida Gomez, with choreography by Gomez and Jose Antonio, and music by Tomatito. June 2, 3: «The Bacchae» by Dutch theater company Zuidelijk Toneel (in Dutch). June 12, 13: «Macbeth» by William Shakespeare, performed by the Lithuanian theater company Meno Fortas, directed by Eimuntas Nekrosius (in Lithuanian). June 20, 21: «Electra» by Sophocles. Directed by Yiannis Margaritis, starring the Romanian actors Maia Morgenstern and Bogdan Zolts, with Chrysanthi Douzi and Yiannis Dalianis (in Greek and Romanian). June 25, 26, 27: «A Comedy.» A new play by Iakovos Kambanellis, performed by Giorgos Michailides’s Open Theater, featuring Chryssoula Diavati and 35 other actors. June 30: «Medea» by Euripides, performed by Nuria Espert’s Spanish theater company and directed by Michael Cacoyannis (in Spanish).