Zoe Chatziantoniou

Amalia melancholia, Queen of the Palm Trees
A living exhibit of natural and political history

AEF2024-Ζωή Χατζηαντωνίου©Alex Kat (3)

If she were a plant, she would be called Amalia melancholia. She wished that history would give her the title of Queen of the Palm Trees. A play about the woman who was stigmatized for her childlessness but gave Athens its National Garden.

Modern medical studies attribute Amalia’s infertility to unknown aplasia, which, if known at the time, would have made the first queen of Greece a monster, a bad omen for the great reboot of the state. She was subjected to fertility treatments for sixteen years, and after death to an autopsy. The examination of the fifty-six-year-old woman revealed findings which had to be suppressed.

Her failure to offer a child to the people had political implications. However, from Amalia’s vision, a ‘child’ was indeed born: a garden. Although many busts of illustrious men are found in the garden, there is not a single official reference to this day to the woman who dreamt of the garden and made it come true.

Zoe Chatziantoniou draws material from Amalia’s letters to her father, individual historical testimonies, and the confidential documents of the doctors. Her Amalia is a woman between fiction and history, infertility and fertility, museum exhibit and animal under observation for breeding purposes. She is a body in a state of creative melancholy that finds its own line of flight towards another dimension beyond social imperatives. There, in her true kingdom, Amalia fulfils her mission and perpetuates her species – she becomes a Garden. She is given what she herself truly longed for, the title of Queen of the Palm Trees.

grape – Greek Agora of Performance is an initiative by the Athens Epidaurus Festival aiming to establish a platform for Greek artists to communicate with the international Theatre and Dance scene, giving them the opportunity to present their works to representatives and artistic directors of international festivals and cultural institutions abroad. For 2024 the platform presents 8 productions during 21 – 25 July.

grape is open to the general public and is part of the main artistic programme of the Athens Epidaurus Festival. The performances included are also scheduled on dates outside the duration of the platform.

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