Artistic Director’s Note
We are moved and excited to welcome you back to the Athens Epidaurus Festival, now scheduled to take place live! This once self-evident, intrinsic aspect, the liveness of a performance, now gives us cause for rejoicing, coming as almost redemptive news.
After a shutdown of theatres and cultural venues overall that lasted for several months due to the pandemic, we are hopeful that this summer’s Festival will bring us together again, emphatically reminding us of all the things we were deprived of last year: the joy of human contact and the unique effect of Art – live Art – on our lives.
We are going to present more than 80 productions, emphasising works by Greek artists. The programme encompasses works with a very distinctive artistic brand and a wide range of styles, including over 50 Greek productions and approximately 30 international productions. Overall, about 1,800 artists will be featured in this year’s programme. Furthermore, the Festival expands its international performing arts co-productions, presenting 10 new works this year in collaboration with leading cultural institutions from Germany, Canada, France, Poland, the United States, and Belgium. Some of them are works by Greek artists, which will be presented at theatres abroad as co-productions, following their premiere in Athens.
After a cultural dry spell that lasted for almost a year and a half, both our responsibility and appetite are huge – it is high time this dialogue opened again.
In the summer of 2020, the Festival managed to realise only a Fragment of its originally scheduled programme. Utilising our experience and knowledge, we are now optimistic that this summer we will be able to realise our artistic programme to the greatest extent possible, in a manner that will, first and foremost, ensure the safety of audiences, artists, and Festival employees.
Far from being just an obstacle for the Festival, the pandemic has also given us the opportunity to become more creative. As such, we decided, for the first time in our history, to expand our activities during the winter. Planning new research initiatives, providing online streaming of filmed performances and concerts, and even launching original digital works such as Radio Plays, the Festival offered top-quality works of art, while also actively supporting artists in what has been a very difficult period of forced inactivity for them.
Moreover, through a public tender, we have designed a brand new identity for the Festival after almost 25 years, ushering in a new era for our visual communication. Hopefully, this new brand identity, conveying the institution’s various new goals and its historical continuity in a daring and flexible manner, will accompany the Festival for many years to come.
Our artistic programme cannot be pigeonholed into strictly defined themes and theoretical frameworks. That being said, several of our productions are, in fact, built around certain recurring themes:
Many Greek and international productions touch upon various gender issues. With the #metoo movement and the heated debate on gender equality being extremely timely right now, the Festival, an institution largely comprised of women, could not be absent from this significant ongoing discussion.
This thematic section will focus on new dramaturgical approaches of ancient Greek drama, featuring works presented in Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, and the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, as well as the interdisciplinary research programme Parodos.
Pushing the boundaries of arts and aesthetic trends is another major goal for the Festival. Our programme includes startlingly original and unexpected crossovers and collaborations, in the form of concerts, hybrid performances, and installations.
It would be impossible to ignore this year’s significant Bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence. As part of our tribute to the 1821 Bicentennial, we have commissioned Theatre and Dance Artists to create original works reflecting on the 1821 legacy in a subversive manner, exploring different aspects of this historic anniversary.
The programme also includes the Layers of Street dance thematic cycle, dedicated to hip-hop culture, and Chronotopia, two days of electronic music held in collaboration with Berlin’s CTM Festival and Goethe-Institut Athen.
Venues / PEIRAIOS 260
At Peiraios 260, we will present daring works by artists from the Greek and world scene. Theatre, Dance, Performance, Music, Opera, and Visual Arts jointly comprise a very rich, enticing programme, contemplating both contemporary and timeless issues in an unconventional manner. Last summer, Peiraios 260 had to remain closed. As a result, a large part of our programme could not be realised. However, it has been rescheduled for this year, alongside new Greek and international productions.
With that in mind, we have converted the roofs of Halls D and E into open, retractable roofs, to ensure that performances can be watched with safety. That said, we have also come up with a few alternatives. We have also decided to extend the Peiraios 260 programme until October, in order to fit all our in-progress productions into this year’s schedule. With that in mind, in June and July, we will mostly watch Greek productions, whereas in the autumn we will have the opportunity to watch primarily international productions. After all, Peiraios 260 is home to over half of our shows.
A few special musical and theatrical productions will also be held at venues outside the official Festival ones, at non-theatrical venues, each of which is noted for its distinctive vibe.
ODEON OF HERODES ATTICUS
This year, the musical scope of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus will be expanded, featuring major artists from the Greek and world scene. The pandemic has had a profound effect on the world tours of several internationally acclaimed artists. Consequently, our original programming is constantly changing.
Nevertheless, we have enriched our programme with new themes and tributes, aiming to make each concert a unique event, forming part of a high-quality musical tapestry.
ANCIENT THEATRE OF EPIDAURUS
The Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus will feature one of the richest programmes in the history of the Athens Epidaurus Festival, with ten premieres.
These performances will take place on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from June to early September. You will have the opportunity to enjoy shows both by veteran directors, who have already presented their work in Epidaurus, and by four directors making their Epidaurus debut this year.
In September, we are pleased to present the world premiere of an international co-production of ours: Thomas Ostermeier and his company, Schaubühne, return to Greece, delving into Ancient Drama for the very first time with a new play by Maja Zade that brings Oedipus’ myth to the present.
LITTLE THEATRE OF ANCIENT EPIDAURUS
Our Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus programme has many surprises in store for you. The programme is extended from July to late August.
The residency Parodos kicks off the programme, scheduled to take place during the first three weeks of June. Artists from a wide range of arts are given the opportunity to conduct research on the dramaturgy of Ancient Drama under ideal conditions and in situ. At the same time, we are launching a new thematic cycle entitled Contemporary Ancients.
I am particularly excited about an initiative that lies at the heart of the Little Theatre programme: we have commissioned contemporary Greek writers to author new plays, inspired by Ancient Drama, to be performed specifically at the Little Theatre.
Four writers of completely different styles, two men and two women, have each written a contemporary play that is in dialogue with an Ancient Tragedy.
With our sights set on the future, these plays will be published, as part of a bilingual (Greek and English) theatre book series, newly launched in collaboration with Nefeli Publishing, marking the Festival’s dynamic entrance into the world of publishing.
The programme also includes two fascinating concerts, a dance/performance piece, and a new visual work that will be exhibited at the Little Theatre in the second half of August. To sum up, the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, alongside the performances at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, will offer audiences a dazzling array of exciting Festival events on a weekly basis throughout the entire summer!
My heartfelt thanks go to the Artistic Αdvisors, the Administration, and all my Festival colleagues. They all contributed to the realisation of this year’s programme, diligently and passionately.
We look forward to seeing you!