Τετάρτη, 8 Ιουνίου 2011


By Karolos Koun
We Greeks, as direct inheritors of ancient Greek drama, have a great advantage in attempting to interpret it; we happen to live on the same land as the ancients. This fact allows us to draw from the very same sources as they did and use to advantage all that Greek tradition has achieved ever since .Although many centuries have gone by, we cannot ignore the fact that we are living under the same sky ,that the same sun shines upon us ,and that the same soil gives us nourishment.
The geological and weather conditions that affect and shape our every-day life and thoughts are still the same. So are the seashores and the distant horizon where sky and sea meet, the stones and the sun-drenched mountains the long-drawn evenings, and above all, high on up, the sky solid and clear. The forms that our thoughts and feelings take today inevitably derive their shape and color from the very same nature that surrounded our ancient forefathers. The shepherd, rising before dawn, follows the same old stones and paths that take him and his sheep to pasture land. The fisherman still treats his octopus on the same rocks. And the street vendors with their baskets still seek shade under the same trees to protect their wares and animals from the burning sun of high noon. So we modern Greeks have the great privilege of living and observing ,day in, day out ,the same forms ,shapes, rhythms and sounds as were more or less experienced by the ancient Greek : Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes must all have experienced and observed them. Therefore, if we wish to interpret their theatre creatively, we must come closer to them and try to distinguish all those elements which, either consciously or unconsciously, entered their souls: we must acquaint ourselves with the great secrets nature revealed to them-the sky, the sea and the rocks, the sun and man on this very rock under the very same sun. these livings elements in this country that continue to exist around us to our day, will help us to understand and feel the thought and poetry in their work much more clearly than all scholarly knowledge or historical studies on the outward form of ancient performances. If the clear and simple expression of thought is one of the many virtues of ancient Greek, this does not mean that there is only one way to express it. We who live in the same country should look around us and discover a thousand and one other ways similar to those selected by the ancients, and present to the modern spectator the ancient plays with a contemporary flavor, but without betraying their authors. And this is where the dangers confronting the Greek interpreter of ancient Greek drama arise. The foreigner has no other obligation than to feel and be inspired by the ancient text, and then present the work theatrically alive by adjusting it to the needs of the modern theatre-goer. But for us  Greeks it is most important that we be careful of foreign theatrical influences and avoid foreign  interpretations ,even if they come from countries more theatrically advanced and with a modern theatrical tradition of far longer standing than Greece’s.
Because although great passions are universal, although the reactions of the human body are the same in all parts of the world, the expression differs in every instance. Pomp and awe in the East are expressed in quite a different way from in the West, and the cry of horror has a different ring of the Equator than it has in the Northern steppes. To get to know our ancient poets, we must first get to know the Greece of today very intimately. We must become aware of and love all that contemporary Greek reality has to offer us in terms of forms ,  rhythms ,color , and sound spiritual and intellectual wealth, everything that has survived from antiquity and has continued to live around us. Greece as it is today will help us avoid any dead elements that may exist in the outward form of ancient drama  and inspire us into presenting freely (as far as setting and staging is concerned ) and according , to the demands of the modern spectator a play which was written two thousand years ago but whose essence remains alive.
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