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06 October, 2004
The archaeological exhibition “The Coming of Age in Ancient Greece,” jointly organized by the Getty Museum and the Onassis Foundation in New York, resulted in an idea for a theatrical performance with the same subject, to be staged when the exhibition travels to the Getty Museum’s home in Los Angeles. The Americans commissioned the performance to Lydia Koniordou, a Greek actress and director whom they have often invited in the past few years for artistic and educational ancient drama-related purposes. The performance, prepared in Greece with Greek artists, is ready and about to set off for the United States.
This will not be the only theatrical show to travel to the States with Koniordou: The National Theater has planned a series of performances of “Lysistrata,” starring Koniordou, in San Francisco (on October 1 and 3) and New York (October 6-10). After these shows, the “Coming of Age” performance will be staged in Los Angeles, at the Getty Museum’s amphitheater, on October 21-24.
Directed by Koniordou, the performance about coming of age features, apart from Koniordou herself, Nikos Karathanos, Christos Loulis, Martha Frintzila, Georgia Tsangaraki and Tania Papadopoulou, while 10 students from a local university will participate in the Chorus. The text was translated from Ancient Greek into English by a well-known scholar, Oliver Taplin. Professor Fanis Kakridis acted as scientific collaborator, the sets and costumes are by Dionysis Fotopoulos and the music is by Takis Farazis.
The exhibition contains finds about childhood, adolescence and the coming of age, on loan from many museums worldwide. “That is why we called the performance ‘The Song of the Swallow,’ from the verses of an ancient poet from Rhodes, that have passed into tradition and were sung by children every March 1st to welcome the spring,” said Koniordou.
“The performance combines various extracts related to the topic, taken from ancient Greek poetry, tragedy, but also epic and lyric poetry: Homer, Sappho, Theognis, Archilochus, Simonedes from Kea, Pindar... In tragedy, we borrowed scenes from ‘Iphigenia at Aulis’ and ‘Iphigenia at Tauris,’ ‘The Trojan Women’ and ‘The Oresteia,’ for the first part, which is about the cycle of the Atreids. In the second part, we have ‘Oedipus Rex’ and ‘Ion’: the child that finds his lost identity and meets his parents.”
These are tragedies that Koniordou knows well. “But this is an entirely different approach, appropriate to highlight the topic of the show. We may not have a completed play, but there is an internal plot, a different cohesion — the child’s journey to adulthood, all the stages it experiences growing up, trying to become a part of the world of adults as a responsible citizen. There is the child that parts from its mother, the child that has to make decisions and the child that seeks its identity.”
Koniordou will play Iphigenia at Tavris, Andromache, Jokasta and Creoussa. Nikos Karathanos will play Oedipus and Talthybius, Christos Loulis will play Orestes and Ion, Martha Frintzila will play Clytemnestra, Georgia Tsangaraki will play Iphigenia at Aulis and Tania Papadopoulou will play Hecuba. All of them will participate in the Chorus. Passages from Homer and lyric poetry have been mostly selected “with the decisive contribution of Professor Kakridis” for the Chorus. Most have been set to music and will be played live by Takis Farazis, Costas Theodorou and Vassilis Mantzoukis.
There is a possibility for this interesting performance to be staged elsewhere abroad but also in Greece, since it was first prepared in the Greek language. “This might happen in collaboration with the National Theater of Greece, which helped in the preparation of this show and we are very grateful,” said Koniordou.
As soon as Koniordou gets back, she will talk with Nikos Kourkoulos, director of the National Theater, about the Workshop of Ancient Drama, which the National has decided to found as of this year. The workshop will also play a decisive part in whether Koniordou will go ahead and direct Aeschylus’ “Persians” with the National Theater for the 2005 Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama.
Rehearsals are in store for Koniordou anyway, because she will star in Bertolt Brecht’s “Caucasian Chalk Circle,” which the National Theater will stage after Christmas at the Kappa Stage, under the direction of Costas Tsianos.
By Vassilis Angelikopoulos - Kathimerini