The Athens and Epidaurus Festival has certainly had its fair share of drama over its 61-year-career and this year was no exception. Even before it began, Belgian art director Jan Fabre resigned from his post following public uproar over his plan to turn Greece’s largest and most respected cultural event into “a tribute to Belgium”. But all’s well that ends well, and new artistic director Vangelis Theodoropoulos announced details for more than 80 productions from mid-June through to mid-August at venues such as the Herodes Atticus Theater (Irodion), large and small ancient Epidaurus theaters and a cluster of former industrial buildings at 260 Pireos Street in Athens.
With live Facebook coverage of the press conference announcing the festival’s program on Monday, Theodoropoulos managed to convey the spirit of artistic angst of this year’s events. Budget constraints due to debts incurred from 2015 and a tight timeframe were just two problems that needed to be overcome. The result is a streamlined festival without the usual bevy of standout international names but with its finger on the pulse of artistic trends. “We will this year see a program that is, to a large extent, youthful, alternative and political in that it embraces Greece and the world of 2016.” he said.
Instead of seeing the problems as shortfalls, Theodoropoulos saw it as an opportunity to take the festival in another direction. Cash flow deficits have been bridged by synergies that link the international event to local groups. As a result, the festival will spill over from the main stages to public streets, museums, art schools such as the Athens School of Fine Arts as well as the Diazoma Citizens for Ancient Theaters group.
Getting a program together in five weeks was no mean feat. German Matthias von Hartz, the festival’s consultant for international productions, described the buzz of activity as little short of a “miracle”. “This year marks my 12th international festival and I can assure you that none of them was programed in five weeks,” he said, adding that he comes from a country that is “presumably very effective.”
Breaking with tradition, this year’s festival has put conventionalism aside and is edgier than ever before with many of the works on the program still not ready. Defying odds, the festival has gone out on a limb by taking risks and putting its faith in youth. Here’s a peek of events on offer.
HERODES ATTICUS THEATER (IRODION)
June 10-12, 15 | Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida” directed by Enrico Castiglione, featuring Cellia Kostea (10/6, 12/6) and Anda-Louise Bogza (11/6, 15/6) in the lead. In Italian with English and Greek subtitles. Ticket prices at €100 (VIP Zone C), €85 (VIP Zones B and D), €60 (A Zone), €55 (B Zone), €45 (C Zone) and €25 (upper tiers).
June 18 | Camerata-Orchestra of the Friends of Music with George Petros at the podium present Orff’s “Carmina Burana”
June 21 | The ERT (National Radio and Television Network) Music Ensembles perform together. Free admission for International Music Day.
June 23 | Notis Mavroudis’ works are presented by a number of local musicians, including George Dalaras, Foteini Velesiotou, Nena Venetsanou, Melina Kana, Anastasia Moutsatsou, Miltos Paschalidis and Morfo Tsaireli, with accompaniment by the Youth Orchestra of the Athens Conservatory.
June 27 | French-Canadian pianist Alain Lefevre performs with the Athens State Orchestra.
July 2 | Composer Nikos Kypourgos’ work is interpreted by Savina Yiannatou, accompanied by the Rosarte children’s choir with friendly guest appearances by Greek greats Maria Farandouri and Dionyssis Savvopoulos.
July 8 | Revered Greek director Spyros Evangelatos presents the work “Amyntas” by poet George Mormoris.
July 22-23 | The National Theater of Northern Greece presents Aeschylus’ work, “Seven Against Thebes”, under the direction of Lithuanian Cezaris Grauzinis.
The Herodes Atticus Theater (Irodion) is at Dionyssiou Areopagitou Street, at the foot of the Acropolis · Tel. (+30) 210.324.1807
ANCIENT THEATER OF EPIDAURUS
July 1-2 |Aristophanes’ political satire, “Plutus”, directed by George Kimoulis, featuring Yiannis Bezos, Petros Filippidis, Pavlos Haikalis etc.
July 8-9 | Yannis Houvardas presents Aeschylus’ work “Oresteia”
July 15-16 | The National Theater of Northern Greece stages Sophocles’ “Antigone” with the direction of Stathis Livathinos.
July 29-30 | The National Theater, in collaboration with the Russian Vakhtangov Theater, present Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex.
August 6-7 | The National Theater presents Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata”
August 19-20 | The Onassis Cultural Center presents Aristophanes’ “The Birds”
The Ancient Theater of Epidaurus is located at Palea (Old) Epidavros, Argolis, Peloponnese • Tel. (+30) 27530.22.026 • The works are performed with English subtitles.
LITTLE THEATER OF ANCIENT EPIDAURUS
July 1-2 · 21:30 | Composer/singer Stefanos Korkolis and singer Sophia Manousakis perform works by great Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis
July 5 · 21:30 | The Department of Theater Studies of the University of the Peloponnese presents “Swellfoot or Oedipus Tyrannus”, influenced by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s work.
July 8-9 · 21:30 | Singer Tania Tsanaklidou performs a concert titled “The Songs Left Alone”
July 15-16 · 21:30 | Composer Stamatis Kraounakis and his troupe Spira Spira present a music work titled “8 October 1838. Theodoros Kolokotronis’ Speech to the Greek Children at Pnyx”.
July 29-30 · 21:30 |A monologue inspired by Cretan poet Stefanos Sachlikis’ 14th-century text is source for inspiration in a presentation by Manolis Mavromatakis.
The little theater of Ancient Epidaurus is at Palea Epidavros, Argolis, Peloponnese.
PIREOS 260 HIGHLIGHTS
June 14 | Greek groups Himerini Kolymvites (Winter Swimmers), the Florina Brass Band, and a night of DJ sets.
June 15-16 | Ensemble / Vyrsodepseio present, Re-Volt Athens, an in-progress performance, about life during the financial crisis, directed by Elly Papakonstandinou. The work in English, German and Greek has already enjoyed success in Barcelona, Vienna and Zagreb.
June 20 · 23:00 | Singer Savina Yiannatou, Lamia Bedioui and Primavera en Salonico perform together in a program of Mediterranean and Balkan-inspired music, titled “The Songs of the ‘Other’” at 23:00.
June 25-26 | Director Oskara Korsunovas presents William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
June 27 | No Wall Music group present their Mikelis and Najem project, a Greek-Palestinian music collaboration.
June 28-29 | Lola Arias’ lecture performance, “Minefield”
July 2 | Electronic music composer Michalis Delta presents “Life is Now”, an ambient soundtrack.
July 2-3 | Georgia Vardarou choreographs a work of stories, titled “New Narratives”
July 4-5 | Radical Argentinean performer Rodrigo Garcia presents “4” that focuses on four actors tied together by a thin wire. Expect the unexpected.
July 7, 13, 20 | The Athens Open Air Film Festival joins forces with the Athens and Epidaurus Festival with Roman Polanski’s “Macbeth”, Peter Brook’s “King Lear” and Derek Jarman’s “The Tempest”. Free admission.
July 8-9 | Energy and dance by the three-membered team of the YELP dance company, titled “It’s only this, nothing else, only this.”
July 10-11 |Pulitzer prize-winning Lynn Nottage’s work “Ruined” is performed for the first time in Greece, directed by Dennis Reid.
July 12-13 | Ermiro Goro’s performance focuses on mid-life crisis, titled “After Party”.
July 18-19 | The Little Things Orchestra present Christopher Marlowe’s “The Massacre at Paris”.
July 23-24 | The Collectif Kiss & Cry present dance performance, “Cold Blood”, creepy tales of death. Presented by Michele Anne de Mey and Jaco Van Dormael.
July 27-28 | Dark Manifesto’s “Detach” is a lecture performance about the end of manifesto as expressed by four performers.
The Pireos 260 industrial complex is at 260 Pireos Street · Tel. (+30) 210.928.2900
NATIONAL THEATER OF GREECE
June 17-20 | A tribute to William Shakespeare on the quadricentennial of his death with the staging of Romeo Castelluci’s “Julius Caesar. Spare Parts” based on Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar”.
July 13-14 | The Disabled Theater Group perform Aeschylus’ work “The Persians” at the Nea Skini that is dedicated to experimental theater.
July 21-22 | The Rex Theater/Kotopouli Stage hosts Jean Anouilh’s “Antigone”.
July 25-26 | The Rex Theater/Kotopouli Stage presents Milo Rau’s “The Dark Ages”, documentary theater performed by five actors from Bosnia, Serbia, Germany and Russia.
July 31 | German playwright George Buchner’s “Leonce and Lena” is a satire veiled in humor.
The Rex Theater Kotopouloi Stage is at 48 Panepistimiou Street, whereas the other events are at 22 Agiou Konstandinou Street · Tel. (+30) 210.330.1881.
ATHENS CONCERT HALL (MEGARON MOUSIKIS)
June 24 | Pianist Nelli Semitecolo and Cellist Constantinos Sfetsas perform together.
July 14-15 | Lefteris Veniadis performs poet Georgios Souris’ “NOW”, a music theater performance.
July 25-26 | The Kyklos Ensemble continues its creative music exploration, titled “At the Borders of Romanticism”
July 30-31 | Chilean writer Roberto Bolano’s work “2666” was the source of inspiration for Julien Gosselin’s “Si vous pouviez lecher mon coeur”.
July 30-31 | Aria Boumbaki’s international troupe presents “And we are not at the same place”.
July 30-31 | Katerina Andreou’s solo is titled “Kind of Fierce”
The Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis) is located at the corner of Vas. Sofias and Kokkali streets. The • Tel. (+30) 210.728.2333.
ATHENS SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS
June 15-July 30 • 17:00 | A three-year collaboration kicks off between the festival and the Athens School of Fine Arts with an edgy exhibition of works by graduate and postgraduate students.
July 6-7 | Alexandra Badea’s “Extremophile” is directed by Elizabeth Marie and performed by Selin Antiparmak (Turkey), Rinio Kyriazi (Greece) and Jack Reinhardt (France).
The Athens School of Fine Arts is at 256 Pireos Street. Tel. (+30) 210.480.1260
All performances start at 21:00, unless otherwise specified