After the great success they achieved at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus and the Open Theater of the Old Olive Oil Mill of Elefsina, Aeschylus’ “Persians”, directed by Dimitris Karantzas, return in September with four long-awaited performances: September 2 and 3 at the Forest Theater in Thessaloniki and 9 and 10 September at the Herodes Atticus Conservatory in Athens.
Staffed by a multitude of excellent actors (Christos Loulis, Giorgos Gallos, Michalis Oikonomou, Alexia Kaltsikis, Theodora Tzimou, Yiannis Klinis, Aineias Tsamatis, Ilias Moulas, Manos Petrakis, Tasos Karahalios, Vassilis Panagiotopoulos, Giorgos Poulios), led by Reni Pittakis, the performance by Dimitris Karantzas poses critical questions about what constitutes “society”, what it means to cling to power and the need to believe in a guide, human or god, in a broken world.
“The axis through which I read the play”, notes Karantzas, “is the path of a people that goes from absolute faith to questioning and then to conflict, until it reaches a manic, convulsive reaction. Neither does blind faith work, nor does blind reaction. As if you see the impossibility of the social contract.”
The coil and the orchestra come together to “participate” in a common conversation about defeat, the difficulty of accepting it and the embarrassment of continuity, with the participation of volunteers who gradually enter the space, composing a “society” that searches for its thread existence after the disaster, as a mirage of the present historical moment.
“The Persians are any society: It’s like taking an x-ray of the side of the loser and a society that doesn’t know how to continue after a complete defeat. And Epidaurus functions as a public stage. Like in a square that is probably very close to us or in some other country, people are discussing how to resist and how to hold on when they have lost all their points of reference. The Persians lose faith in the king, then in the concept of monarchy, then in God and finally in their very ability to react,” says D. Karantzas.
At the same time, Atossa of Persia, played by Reni Pittaki, is “the cold gentle voice of power” who wants to preserve and continue in a society almost decimated. “Two completely different views of what the world means,” the director points out.
A few words about the project:
Written in 472 BC, the tragedy of Aeschylus is perhaps the oldest recording of events in Greek history in the theater. In Susa, the Persian capital, the citizens who have been left behind and their queen, Atossa, who is tormented by bad omens, await news of Xerxes’ campaign in Greece. A messenger announces the terrible outcome of the Battle of Salamis: the Persian army and its elite leaders have been crushed. Atossa and Choros call upon the ghost of Darius to guide them. The glorious king condemns the infamy of Xerxes, who wanted to tame nature and divine will, and predicts even more disasters. With the arrival of Xerxes, the crash culminates. The scales now tip decisively towards the horror of the end.
Endless lists of names run through the work: those who first lit the way for hope, victory and solidarity, now fall one by one, lost in the darkness of a devastated place, a people on the edge of horror, reason and obedience.
The Persians as a tragedy of humanity, as a micro-system that reflects issues of existence and coexistence, unresolved throughout the centuries, become, under the directorial instructions of Karantzas, a common place for a conversation that indirectly illuminates the multiple global impasses of today. The theater is the public space, the Church of the Municipality, the City. The Dance of the Persians, “society”, begins with faith and obedience, ending, after annihilation, in an anarchic multitude without a guide or point of reference.
The translation is by Panagiotis Mullas. The adaptation is signed by Dimitris Karantzas and Gely Kalambaka. The sets are edited by Cleo Bobotis, the costumes by Ioanna Tsami, the movement by Tasos Karahalios, the lighting by Dimitris Kasimatis, the musical composition and live performance by Giorgos Poulios.
Buy tickets: Thessaloniki | Forest Theater | September 2-3- Regular: 20 euros, Reduced: 15 euros.
Athens | Herod Atticus Conservatory | September 9-10- Lower Diazoma: 45 euros, Upper Diazoma: 25 euros.