Epidaurus Festival 2018
Ancient Epidauros is just 32 kms from Tolon (a 35-40 minute drive) and has a magnificent amphitheatre dating from 4BC designed to seat 13000 to 14000 spectators. This tradition continues today during the famous Epidauros Festival that runs on July and August weekends.
This is a unique opportunity to see classical Greek plays in a unique and quite stunning setting. Tickets are inexpensive and our Tolon representative can arrange a taxi to take you to and fro locally (cost c 80 euros return). Tip: take a cushion unless you are sitting in the posh seats!
JULY PROGRAMME AT ANCIENT EPIDAURUS THEATRE
AGAMEMNON by Aeschylus (THEATRE)
Essentials: 6 & 7 July 9:00PM
In Aeschylus’ Agamemnon, the tragic characters are doomed to suffer and die, whereas the members of the chorus are doomed to suffer and live, revisiting their misfortunes and seeking a way out. In a polis doomed to self-destruction, citizens, here represented by the chorus, must muster their strength and faith, and redefine their moral and civic values, thus ensuring their continued survival. This tragedy addresses the crucial need for reawakening citizens’ sense of duty.
PLUTUS by Aristophanes (THEATRE)
Essentials: 13 & 14 July. 9:00PM
From Aristophanes’ time to now, Plutus (Greek for “wealth”) is invariably the most powerful deity on the face of the earth; the driving force behind everything. Today’s inequality in wealth distribution is striking; the 100 richest people on the planet have accumulated more wealth than half the world’s population. Whether wealth is blind or has the gift of sight is completely irrelevant, what matters is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
ELECTRA by Sophocles (THEATRE)
Essentials: 20 & 21 July. 9:00PM
Written in the shadow of the Peloponnesian War, Electra is one of Sophocles’ most brutal plays. From the very first scene, the return of matricide Orestes, to the final scene with the victorious battle-cries of the chorus, the entire play is structured as an interplay of light and darkness; a battle of contradictions built around a trial, a violated balance and the need to redress that balance. Sophocles invites us to watch the workings of the natural world – the law of retaliation – through the lens of civil conflict.
Sophocles is not interested in the morality of the issue at hand. Whether balance will be restored in a peaceful or violent manner is irrelevant. Violence pervades human relationships. Violence breeds violence: wrongdoing invites retaliation. The fact that revenge here, in the form of matricide, goes far beyond what is normally expected in a so-called civilized society is also irrelevant. Sophocles’ Electra calls for retribution rather than justice.
THESMOPHORIAZUSAE by Aristophanes (THEATRE)
Essentials: 27 & 28 July 9:00PM
In Thesmophoriazusae, one of Aristophanes’ three female plays, written in 411 BC, at a time when Democracy was overthrown and replaced by Oligarchy, women call for political stability. Nowadays, women are no longer in the same difficult position. They are no longer restricted to imagining a political future without having the right to participate in the polis. However, there are still plenty of minorities with no access to the workings of the polis. A play about gender issues, the quest of personal identity, the right to equal civil rights, the crisis in values, law and nature. Above all, a play bursting with humour and theatricality, enabling actors to be fully present on stage as political entities.
AUGUST PROGRAMME AT ANCIENT EPIDAURUS THEATRE
ORESTES by Euripides (THEATRE)
Essentials: 3 & 4 August 9:00PM
To what extent can a society caught up in a vicious cycle of crime find a way out? Three young people, Orestes, Electra, and Pylades are entangled in a spiral of blood and violence. Gods and humans have spun an intricate web of hatred and vengeance. Sibling love turns into complicity; friends become partners in crime; the people’s verdict leads to capital punishment. No end in sight for this war. The city will burn. Euripides’s tragedy lays the human soul bare. When everything terrible is said and done, only the “deus ex machina” (an unexpected power or event). Problem is, nobody believes in god’s fairy tales anymore.
THE FROGS by Aristophanes (THEATRE)
Essentials: 10 & 11 August 9:00PM
In The Frogs, Aristophanes attempts a phantasmagorical descent to the underworld. Much like Odysseus, Aristophanes seeks a path to his utopian Ithaca. One can only fulfil one’s life by discovering the true meaning of death. The polis must come to terms with its own lack of order to gain a more substantial presence. The Frogs stand in for humanity, humans are like amphibians, foreign both in land and sea, yet also feeling everywhere at home, ready to sing and dance. The carnival symbolizes humanity’s struggle to go beyond themselves, to conquer a distinct identity. This identity is not expressed in the dramas by the “realist” Euripides; it is expressed in the dramas written by the epic storyteller Aeschylus, this serious, imposing poet. Aeschylus constantly dismisses his opponent with the expression “lekythion apolesen,” or, “he lost his little oil flash,” an expression which is commonly held to be a joke about Euripides’ sexual impotence.
OEDIPUS AT COLONUS by Sophocles (THEATRE)
Essentials: 17 & 18 August. 9:00PM
Sophocles’ final tragedy is at once a meditation on human fate and a tribute to his favourite city, Athens. A tragedy about physical and metaphysical borders, about the mystery of human freedom in the face of gods’ omnipotence, about responsibility, about old age, about the political rule of the polis. Oedipus at Colonus is an intimate poem, a spiritual journey.
From Syracuse to Epidaurus, our tragedy will carry Oedipus all the way to the sacred forest of the Furies, to his final apotheosis.
JULY PROGRAMME AT LITTLE EPIDAURUS THEATRE
THE LIBATION BEARERS by Aeschylus (THEATRE)
Essentials: 6 & 7 July 9:00PM
“Am I shouting to the deaf and fruitlessly wasting my voice on people who are asleep?”. The greatest mourning song of ancient Greek literature. A premeditated crime set up on stage, with the complicity of the audience. The VASISTAS group approaches the play as a profound conflict between human instincts and social conformity, focusing on the chorus, this powerful voice that is constantly on stage, pushing things forward and inciting to murder. The two main characters of the play, Orestes and Electra, are like two puppets with barely any right to make choices for themselves. They are weighed down by the burden of the past, forced to follow it all the way, making a seemingly impossible choice. Their future is inextricably bound to the act of murder.
ANTIGONE by Sophocles (THEATRE)
Essentials: 20 & 21 July. 9:00PM
Arguably Sophocles’ most popular tragedy, Antigone is set in Thebes, shortly after the civil war that resulted in the mutual killing Antigone’s brothers, Eteocles and Polynices.
Following their deaths, Creon, Antigone’s uncle who inherited the throne, has banned the burial of Polynices, believing he was a traitor and enemy of Thebes. Nevertheless, Antigone defies the law and buries her brother. Creon locks her away in prison and she takes her own life. By the end of the play, Creon is a tragic figure, one of the most harrowing characters in the entire canon of ancient drama.
AUGUST PROGRAMME AT LITTLE EPIDAURUS THEATRE
PROMETHEUS BOUND by Aeschylus (THEATRE)
Essentials: 3 & 4 August. 9:00PM
In this performance, the director focuses on the power of language and spoken words, reciting the text in a rhythmical and melodious manner. Refraining from a conventional dramatic performance and instead making discourse central, insisting on a clear recitation of the words and their meaning. The use of masks and carefully planned movement will infuse the performance with theatricality. The production will adopt a very strict motif of music and movement, allowing performers to express themselves inside a very tightly constructed aesthetic universe.
ANCIENT STADIUM OF EPIDAURUS
THE EUMENIDES by Aeschylus (THEATRE)
Essentials: 14 & 15 July 6:00AM (note this is a Sunrise performance)
In the third part of Aeschylus’ trilogy, Orestes finds himself at the Delphi oracle, asking Apollo to help him escape the Furies, who have been following in hot pursuit ever since Orestes murdered his mother. The god urges him to leave while the Furies are asleep and to seek refuge in Athens. The Furies are banished from Apollo’s temple and chase Orestes all the way to Athens, whereupon they find him as a suppliant at the statue of Athena. The goddess appears and demands she hear both sides: the prosecuting Furies and the defendant Orestes. In the ensuing trial, Athena’s tie-breaking vote absolves Orestes, an act that is tantamount to the foundation of both democracy and patriarchy. The Furies are ultimately appeased and transformed into Eumenides, “the kindly ones.
This performance meets a very specific need: to delve into the depths of the human soul, exposing dreams, insecurities, and fears before a live audience in an attempt to bring together the conscious and the unconscious.