King For A Day

In the context of the 1st Meeting of Young Artists of Southeast Europe Ancient Drama and Politics, Tracing Limits and Possibilities, director Giorgos Kolovos gives a contemporary spin to Sopochles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, building a bridge between Thebes’ governance and today’s heads of state, asking out loud: «Does the contemporary political situation permit such leaders?». The answer seems to get lost in translation.



Nel contesto del 1° Incontro di giovani artisti dell’Europa del sud-est “Dramma antico e politica”, Tracciare limiti e possibilità, il regista Giorgos Kolovos rivede l’Edipo Re di Sofocle in chiave contemporanea, costruendo un ponte tra l’amministrazione di Tebe e i capi di stato odierni e domandandosi ad alta voce: «La situazione politica moderna consente certi leader?». La risposta pare perdersi nella traduzione.




Στο πλαίσιο της 1ης Συνάντησης Νέων Καλλιτεχνών της Νοτιοανατολικής Ευρώπης, “Αρχαίο Δράμα & Πολιτική”, Aνίχνευσης – Όρια και δυνατότητες, ο σκηνοθέτης Γιώργος Κολοβός δίνει ένα σύγχρονο γύρισμα στον Οιδίποδα Τυράννου του Σοφοκλή, δημιουργώντας μια γέφυρα μεταξύ της διακυβέρνησης των Θηβών και των σημερινών αρχηγών, αναρωτώντας δυνατά: «θέλουμε τέτοιους ηγέτες; Ή ακόμα καλύτερα, η σύγχρονη πολιτική κατάσταση το επιτρέπει;» Η απάντηση φαίνεται να έχει χαθεί στη μετάφραση.



Greece, the birthplace of democracy, has come very far from the glories of its past, and even though many face this decadence with reluctance, there are some, often in cultural environments, that are willing to ask the hard questions and face the even harder answers. It is the case with Kolovos’ take on Sopochles’ Oedipus Tyrannus, the world-renowned tragedy about a Tyrant who becomes a King and accepts his duties right to the end. The story doesn’t change: Oedipus, the alleged son of Corinthian King Polybus, saves Thebes from the deadly woes inflicted upon it by the Sphinx and becomes its ruler. Respected by his people, he becomes a good and wise tyrannos, right until the city is struck by yet another scourge: the plague.

As by the Gods will, the throne shall not govern on a healthy reign until the murder of previous King Laius is not set right and the ritual uncleanliness of the capital comes to a stop. Being the «perfect» leader that he is, Oedipus will embark in an unrestrained quest to solve this heinous crime, only to come to the realization that he himself had been the driving force of his own miseries, both as killer of his true father, Laius, and husband of his own mother, Queen Jocasta. The truth will ultimately lead the newly appointed King to the only “just” solution: his own demise.

What changes, then, is that the ordeal takes place in modern times, where politics, evidently, is not a matter of serving the people, but a job like any other. As the director himself wonders, «who are the wise elder of the Chorus today? Are they truly wise or are they simply elected as such? As tragedy emerges, do they choose to stand together or each one decides to take a separate way?». Moving among stunningly simple yet evocative set designs, the collar and tie entourage lays out the tragic investigation with a satisfying crescendo of convincing performances from all actors, who try with all their might to pull the text out of its classical mist and bring it to the clearer and accessible light of our days.

Unfortunately, though, the brilliant music, the nifty “message to the nation” and the contemporary paraphernalia that surrounds the stage like safety handles to which the audience can hold on to during this ride through time and societies are not enough to convey the political message devised by Kolovos. As a matter of fact, without the director’s note pointing out the aim of the play, this Oedipus Tyrannus would just be a highbrow display of smart and catchy gimmicks that hide a summary (or time-limited, given the «two-month preparation» that preceded this première) rielaboration of Sophocles’ endeavour, which is mostly rendered unaltered.

A shame, given the enormous potential of both interpreters and technical staff behind the curtains, but also an exiting starting point from which all must work on, finding a way to strengthen its parallelism with our very own petty politicians, going beyond the mere visual medium and actually turning the original upside down, for in order to modernize a myth, we must first destroy it. Here’s the limit. And here’s the possibility.


The show was played at
Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies (ΕΜΣ) – National Theatre of Northern Greece
Ethnikis Amynis str. 2 – Thessaloniki
Sunday 24 September 2017

The 1st Meeting of Young Artists of Southeast Europe “Ancient Drama and Politics” presents
Oedipus Tyrannus
by Sophocles

translation Minos Volanakis
direction Giorgos Kolovos
dramaturgy Consultant Charis Papadopoulos
sets-costumes supervision Olga Chatziiakovou
music composition Christos Sikiotis
choreography Athina Sikioti
make-up Instructor Paressa Ioannidou
video Ada Liakou
assistant director Yannis Karamfilis
2nd assistant director Athina Sikioti
production co-ordinator Athina Samartzidou
cast Charis Papadopoulos, Mara Tsikara, Orestis Paliadelis, Timos Papadopoulos, Lila Vlachopoulou, Fani Apostolidou, Yannis Karamfilis, Katerina Alexi, Aggelos Nerantzis, Eleftheria Aggelitsa, Marianna Pouregka


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