Nobel laureate, premieres galore to feature at Delphi

Considering its extraordinary events this year, the annual international festival of ancient Greek drama, to be held in Delphi between July 5 and 12 under the umbrella title «The Theban Cycle,» should be quite special. A Nobel Prize-winning writer – Nigerian Wole Soyinka – has translated and will direct an ancient drama; a Chinese theater group will stage «The Theban Woman,» inspired by «Antigone» and «Seven against Thebes;» a French theater group will interpret «The Bacchae;» and distinguished actors will recite soliloquies from ancient drama. Also on the agenda are premiere performances of «Antigone» by the National Theater, starring Lydia Koniordou; «Evadne» by Theodoris Gonis with Olia Lazaridou; and «Monologues of Jocasta» by Giorgos Kouroupos with Sonia Theodoridou and Themis Bazaka. The festival also includes conferences featuring prominent celebrities, workshops, discussions, special presentations, and exhibitions. The event will be held under the auspices of the Cultural Olympiad, whose funds have greatly contributed to the impressive program this year. The festival’s customary location, the ancient theater at Delphi, is currently undergoing restoration work and will not be used for this year’s events. Instead, organizers have temporarily relocated to the European Cultural Center of Delphi. Among the highlights, a conference titled «Theban Myths» will feature leading authorities, including Eleni Ahrweiler, Fanis Kakridis, Vassilis Karasmanis, Giorgos Loukos, Marian MacDonald, Theodoros Terzopoulos, and Petros Hartokollis. As for the event’s artistic side, the Nobel Prize-winner Soyinka’s translation and direction of Sophocles’ «Oedipus at Colonus» will be one of the main events out of a total of nine productions. Soyinka, the 1996 Nobel Prize laureate for literature, returns to Delphi after having participated in 2000, and has prepared «Oedipus at Colonus» especially for this summer’s events. The program of events stands as follows: July 5: World premiere of «Antigone» by the National Theater directed by Nikaiti Kontouri and starring Lydia Koniordou in the title role. July 6: «Twelve Sonnets on Thebes,» a world premiere written and directed by Theodoris Gonis, starring Olia Lazaridou, with music by Nikos Xydakis and co-produced by the Agrinio Municipal Theater. July 7: World premiere of «Oedipus at Colonus» by Wole Soyinka, co-produced by Las Vegas’s Nevada Conservatory. July 8: «Where is Oedipus?» directed by Turkey’s Sahika Tekand and co-produced by the International Istanbul Theater Festival. July 9: «The Theban Woman» by the Chinese Opera of Bang Zi, based on «Antigone» and «Seven against Thebes,» and directed by Luo Jin-Lin in its first performance outside China. July 10: Euripides’ «Bacchae» by France’s Tour de Babel, directed by Frederic Servant, and, on the same night, «The Testament of Oedipus» directed by Heiner Muller with Stefan Schlelermacher. July 11: Leading actors from various countries will deliver theatrical soliloquies of famous heroes such as Oedipus, Antigone and Eteocles. July 12: The festival’s finale will feature a new opera by composer Giorgos Kouroupos titled «Monologues of Jocasta» with the actress Themis Bazaka, soprano Sonia Theodoridou and baritone Tassos Apostolou, backed by a choir and orchestra. The text is by Ioulita Iliopoulou and the performance is directed by Apostolia Papadamaki and produced by the Cultural Center of Veria. Besides these performances, an exhibition of particular interest, titled «Yiannis Kounelis – Works for Theater,» will be held on the festival’s sidelines. On show will be designs by the renowned Greek artist and photographs of the sets he created for the stage, with a focus on work produced for the German director Muller, and «The Theban Cycle.» Film projections, including «The Theban Cycle,» and workshops by the noted director Michael Cacoyannis, his visiting colleague from China, Luo Jin-Lin, and Terzopoulos, have also been lined up.