CULTURE

Ancient theater puts end to 2,300 years of silence

The last time a performance was held at the Ancient Theater of Maroneia was 23 centuries ago. This unusually long hiatus will end this Saturday, with actress Lydia Koniordou’s interpretation of Euripides monologues, in a performance directed by Thodoris Gonis. Only 200 spectators will have the opportunity to attend the show that will inaugurate this new phase for the theater, which comes after extensive restoration works. Situated next to the village of Maroneia in Rodopi prefecture, the theater has become once more accessible thanks to the work of the 19th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities (EPKA). The Lydia Koniordou performance is a celebratory event. But, according to ephorate archaeologist Chryssa Karadima, the 19th EPKA hopes that in the future, once research and work on the monument has been completed, the theater will be able to host events on a regular basis. Karadima has been responsible for the excavation since 2000, the year that the last phase of the works began. Excavations had started in 1981 but were then interrupted in 1994. The theater though had been known to the wider public already from the early 20th century, when some of its construction material was used to build the Maroneia primary school. The Maroneia Theater had been in continuous use from the Hellenistic period up to the 4th century AD. During Early Christian times its use was limited. This was also the last phase in the use of the theater, which was then abandoned and turned into a cemetery. According to Karadima, the restoration corresponds to the theater’s Roman phase, which is the best preserved one. The theater’s parapet and openings to the stage have been restored; the seats were reset and completed, while the stage itself was restored to the surface level it had in Roman times. The restoration of the monument was carried out with the support of the Diazoma association, whose aim is to research and highlight ancient Greek theaters, staring with that of Sicyon.