The ancient drama today: For a submersion from diversion to being.

Yangos Andreadis
Is there a way to make our ancient drama attractive again, for the Greek and international audience, in our ancient theatres; and an ambassador of the Greek culture around the globe?

Is there a reason to return to ancient drama texts with the conviction that they have been written by authors who were not ordinary people of letters but great theatre artisans, who were at the same time directors, actors, musicians, choreographers, able to enrich the spirit, the soul, the body and the craft of a modern actor? Are there teachers between our theatre people, who bring forward and at the same time rejuvenate a theatrical heritage which is at the same time Greek and universal? And is there a path of dialogue with the great international theatrical cultures, not in a hurry and in pretence, but insistently, laboriously, prolifically and creatively? 

 A program launching on Tuesday, the 17th of January at 7.30 pm, aspires to attempt to give an answer to these and other similar questions. On the date, the Community Centre of Thiva will welcome the directors, actors and other theatre people, journalists and members of the parliament and the local government, who will attend the inauguration of the educational and artistic program The Ancient Drama Today. The program was created in association with Panteion Centre for Classical Drama and Spectacle (KEDRA) and Michael Cacoyannis Foundation (MCF), with the support of the Regional Government of Central Greece and the active contribution of the Municipality of Thiva. It comprises of three stages:

  • Twelve seminars/workshops, where basic aspects of the ancient drama will be researched and developed in an experimental way, from dramatic readings of the texts, to acting, music composition and performance perspective. 
  • A selection, at the beginning of May, of three proposals for ancient drama performances, which will come from the participants of the program: those whose proposals will be selected will be offered a basic financial support, for the production, at least one artistic director and one ancient theatre, as well as the stage of MCF to play and media promotion support. 
  • Finally, at September 2017, Thiva will host an international theatrical workshop, directed to dramatise one composition from the Theban tragedies. For this purpose, the directors of the program have already got in contact with countries holding long theatrical traditions. The production which will occur, will be presented in Thiva, the archaeological site Kastelia, at Delphi and at the MCF in Athens and possibly elsewhere in Greece and abroad. 

The entire character of the project will be complex, as it attempts to combine theory and creativity in every step of the way, and will also be strongly interactive. This second element is guaranteed by the high standards in selecting both the tutors of the program, and the participants who applied to attend. I note some of the names of the tutors, among other peers: Dimos Avdeliodis, Dimitra Hatoupi, Katia Gerou, Thanasis Papageorgiou and Stephanos Kyriakidis. There are, however, several of the attendees who could also teach, which means that the workshops will have a strong dimension of a creative dialogue, where the tutor will also have the real potential to keep earning from those being at the position of the student. This dimension of creative dialogue will be enforced by the operation of a bilingual (Greek/English) interactive website, with texts, photographs, music, videos and the overview of the seminars. 

The juncture where this particular attempt is situated holds a series of characteristics which do not only have to do with theatre, but generally with the Greek and international culture. On a global scale, the elevation of the image and virtual reality is pushing, not only in terms of art but also in mass media, towards the domination of impressiveness, at the expense of meaning, critical thinking and argument. Both the theatrical audience and the constituency, stumble over images and words which impress, deceive, terrorise and emasculate thought and feeling, which are the two portals of what we call emotional intelligence. The much needed return to meaning/feeling is, however, completely joined to the return to what constitute their historical womb: the big dramatic, literary, philosophical, political texts. Nevertheless, there can’t be a creative restoration to meaning and text, unless we combine it with a restoration to the cultural heritage and memory of our people and others, and to the language which so often in Greece, and elsewhere, is suffocated by dissonance and roars. The language, when considered as speech, in all meanings of the word, is the instrument of the people to speak things clearly, and reveal the world in its original form. And the theatrical language is the one raising, as the Elizabethans, the siblings of Greek tragedy writers, would say, the “tragic mirror”, which reveals to nature its true meaning. 

Starting off at the beginnings of the 19th century, Greek creators have utilised in an impressive way the lessons of European thought and creation at the field of ancient drama, as well as local tradition, from Christian liturgy to folk songs and folklore in general. Thus, they managed to create the Greek school of performing ancient drama, and showcased directors such as Politis, Eva Palmer, Rontiris, Koun and Minotis and actors such as Kotopouli, Papadaki, Paksinou and Katrakis. Whole generations have dedicated their lives to performances which remain historical. I believe that the reason a series of attempts are focusing today to the programmatic research and creating in relation to the ancient drama, is the feeling that very often the relationship with the meaning of ancient drama has broken away from the Greek, and not only, theatrical production. We should allow one of the best to conclude these thoughts: “Nothing in me is seems”, says Shakespeare’s Hamlet. An embankment to the world who behind show, the suspicious deceptive, and the diversion, can conceal even crime, as is the case with the fratricidal and incestuous tyrant, Claudius in this masterpiece of the Bard; the great texts of mankind are always one step ahead of us. Inviting us to dare see the tragic in order to overcome life’s tragedies through a submersion in the being of creation, democracy and freedom.

Source: Καθημερινή, 17.1.17


A pilot program on Ancient Greek Drama, and its importance on the formation of modern education and society.



    Syggrou Avenue 136, 176 71, Athens, Greece