Giannis Skourletis – bijoux de kant

Songs of the Greek People – Drag oratorio

Their aesthetics have been used in service of a subversive approach to Greek identity, built over the last few years in performances dedicated to major poets and writers tackling the notion of Greekness, from Vitsentzos Kornaros to Nikos Engonopoulos, from Giorgos Ioannou and Napoleon Lapathiotis to Ioannis Kondylakis. Once again this year, Giannis Skourletis and the bijoux de kant company “read” tradition in their own, peculiar manner, seeking inspiration from the great composer, conductor and pianist Giannis Konstantinidis (1903-1984), who hailed from Asia Minor. Using the pseudonym “Kostas Giannidis”, he made a name for himself in elafra (light) songs (“Ksypna Agapi Mou”, “Tha Xanartheis”, “Ta Nea tis Alexandras”, “Poso Lypamai”). During the last 20 years of his life, he focused exclusively on his classical work, using dimotika (traditional) songs as his basis.

Through his Twenty Songs of the Greek People song cycle, Konstantinidis created a hypertext, a “twofold” musical composition on a par with his entire artistic oeuvre. The dimotika tragoudia, so familiar to us, move here towards a new form, in a dialectical relationship with both Greekness and the Western musical tradition.

Using Konstantinidis’ charming song cycle as a springboard, alongside texts by artist and researcher Alexandros Papadopoulos, three artists, namely drag baritone Nina Nai, performer Daglara and pianist Yorgos Ziavras, narrate a heartfelt story that could have been a screenplay for a Greek horror show. Amid an uncanny landscape designed by set designer Konstantinos Skourletis, they address the open trauma of patriarchy and deviation. They tell a story about a different, often unseen, kind of Greece, on the fringes of urbanization, in the vast country surrounding little towns, in the gaps in between them. Idols of a well-hidden personal experience, they recount the passions and pain of otherness in a dystopian world.

grape Greek Agora of Performance is an exciting new 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. The platform presents 14 new productions in two periods: 3 – 8 July & 18 – 22 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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