The stage of the theater turns into an anatomy museum room and the Emily Koliandrisas a living exhibit of natural and political history, plays Amalia, the brooding queen of the phoenixes, alongside Rita Lytou.
If it were a plant, they would name it Amalia melancholia. She herself wished that history would give her the title of the queen of palm trees. A performance about the woman who was stigmatized for her childhood, but gave Athens the National Garden.
Childlessness, failure and the Garden
Modern medical studies attribute Amalia’s childlessness to an unseen aplasia, a deficiency which, had it been known at the time, the first queen of Greece would have been considered a monster, a bad omen for the glorious restart of Hellenism. Another woman in her situation would become an anatomy exhibit, a circus act, or a curious case of medical schools. The treatments imposed on her by doctors, scientific advisors, sketchers and medical sophists lasted sixteen years. Even dead, Amalia’s body was ordered to undergo an autopsy to clarify the matter. However, no official document has ever been found. The examination of the fifty-six-year-old woman revealed findings which, perhaps, it was deemed appropriate to keep quiet.
Her failure to provide a child for the people had implications for the issue of Palingenesis and the restoration of political stability in the turbulent newborn state. His absence contributed to the exacerbation of popular discontent and the eviction of the first royal couple from Greece.
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However, from Amalia’s vision, persistence and above all love, a child was born. No one believed that this miracle was possible in the desolate and ravaged Athens of the mid-19th century. He loved evergreens and palm trees, especially Washingtonias. He brought them to Greece to beautify the only child he had, today’s National Garden. In it, despite so many busts of famous men, there is not a single bust, not a single official reference to the woman who dreamed it up and created it.
The text of the performance is based on the 887 letters of Queen Amalia to her father, testimonies found scattered in the extensive bibliography and the secret documents of the doctors who dealt with her case. The letters read more like a personal diary, are in the state archives of the city of Oldenburg and read like a delightful coming-of-age novel.
A daughter addresses her father. She tells him about the difficulties of adjustment, the political climate, the longing for the birth of a child, the devotion to Otho, the passion with the magical world of plants and animals and, of course, the creation of the Garden. We see the immature, enthusiastic, romantic eighteen-year-old Amalia transform into the adult, stubborn and politicized woman who loved Greece but Greece never loved her.
The director of the show notes:
Amalia melancholia is a woman between fiction and history, between youth and old age, between sterility and fertility. A creature between a live museum exhibit and an animal under surveillance for breeding purposes. A female body in a state of creative melancholy that finds its own line of escape to another dimension, beyond familiar social boundaries and dictates. In the play, Amalia fulfills her mission and perpetuates her species, becoming a Garden.
The kingship may not suit the origins of this place and its people, but let us recognize Amalia as her true kingdom and give her, what she wished for, the title of Queen of the Palms.
Because, biography is not only the real events of a life. It can’t be just those. Biography is also what one imagined, what one left unfulfilled, what one lost, what one sacrificed, what one passionately desired but never got. It’s the life plans that came true, the life plans that failed, and the ones that all turned out to be flops.
The excerpts from the letters heard in the show are based on “Anecdotal letters of Queen Amalia to her father, 1836 – 1853” (two volumes), translated by Vana & Michael Busse, published by her Bookstore FOCUS.
- Text – Direction – Dramaturgy: Zoe Hatjiantoniou
- Stage: Eva Manidaki
- Costumes: Ioanna Tsami
- Music: Stavros Gasparatos in co-operation with George Mizithra
- Video: Pantelis Makkas
- Drama consultant: Louisa Arcoumanea
- Interpretation: Emily Koliandri, Rita Lytou
- Assistant Director: Stella Rapti
- Assistant Stage Designer: Maria Kalofouti
- Costume Designer Assistants: Vasiliki Sourri
- Wigs: Konstantinos Savvakis
- Co-production: Quadrat theater company and Cultural Organization Twilight
Performance duration: 90 minutes
The show was sponsored in 2021 by the Ministry of Education and Culture
Wednesday – Sunday: 19.00, Thursday – Friday: 20.30, Saturday: 21.00
Monday 25/12, Tuesday 26/12 and Monday 1/1 at 20.30
*Wednesday 27/12 the show will not take place.
Cyclades Street Theater – Lefteris Vogiatzis, Cyclades 11 & Kefallinias, Kypseli
General admission €18, unemployed/student/disabled €14