July 6, 2006


Filed under: Listings,Press Releases — offoffbway @ 8:52 pm

This isn’t off-off Broadway at all really, but it sounds great: real Greek theater, from, like, Greeks. The play The Persians. Six performances only: Saturday, September 16 Through Wednesday, September 20, at City Center. And it’s performed in Greek with supertitles. So the illiterate need not apply. Here’s all the info:




For Six Performances Only at New York’s City Center

Saturday, September 16 Through Wednesday, September 20

The National Theatre of Greece proudly returns to New York’s City Center for a limited six-performance run of Aeschylus’ The Persians — the oldest surviving play in history and the only extant Greek tragedy that is non-mythical in theme and based on historic fact — from Saturday, September 16 through Wednesday, September 20. Lydia Koniordou, one of Greece’s most accomplished stage actresses who Ben Brantley of The New York Times describes as “ravishing” and “blazing with conviction and ardor,” heads the cast and directs. The Persians will be performed in Greek with English supertitles. Translation is by Nikoletta Frindzila, sets and costumes are by Lili Kendaka, music is by Takis Farazis, lighting is by Lefteris Pavlopoulos, vocal patterns are by Mirka Gementzaki, and the assistant director is Lilly Meleme.

The Persians was written in 480 B.C. to celebrate the final defeat of the armies of King Xerxes in the sea battle of Salamis, a war in which Aeschylus himself fought. However, the play was not exhibited until 472 B.C. — seven years after the king’s army departed. The Persians is set in the Persian capital of Susa, among the very enemies against whom the Greeks had fought for more than 11 years. It opens with the despotic Queen Atossa and The Chorus, who represent Persian nobles and the king’s advisors, awaiting news of the king’s campaign against the Greeks. The Queen tells The Chorus of frightening premonitions she has had about the impending campaign, which consequently have everyone anxious and troubled. Out of fear and desperation, Queen Atossa attempts to appease the gods with immolations, and in the successive scenes, the defeat and ruin of Persian forces ensue.

While The Persians, on one hand, might feed the unspoken patriotism of a Greek audience, it is, however, far more than a boastful picture of Greek triumph and Persian defeat. Rather, The Persians is a moral lesson on the subject of tyranny designed to touch the heart and conscience of every oppressor, whether Greek or barbarian.

Ms. Koniordous has had a long and thriving career in Greece, especially in the classical dramatic repertory, and has received acclaim for her performances in New York in Electra (1996), Antigone (2002) and Lysistrata (2004). A native Athenian, she has also appeared in the National Theater’s productions of Phoenician Women, The Suppliants, Orestia and Yerma, and with many of Greeces’s leading theaters, including the Theatre of Thassaly, the Theatre of Spring, the Desmi of Aspasia Papanastasiou, and the Politeia Theatre.

She also performed for nine years with the Art Theatre, in both contemporary plays and ancient Greek drama. Finally, from 1993-1998, Ms. Koniordou was the artistic director of the Municipal Theatre of Volos.

The cast of The Persians, in addition to Ms. Koniordou as the formidable Queen Atossa, includes: Yannis Kranas (Darius); Christos Loulis (King Xerxes), Sampson Fytros, Yorgos Gallos, Dimitris Kanellos, Phaidon Kastris, Panagiotis Klinis, Apostolis Pelakanos, Takis Sakellariou and Yorgos Stamos (messengers).

Rounding the cast of The Persians are: Chrysanthi Avloniti, Yorgos Dousis, Manolis Dragatsis, Yorgos Frindzilas, Alexandros Kalpakidis, Stephanos Kosmidis, Yannis Kotsifas, Katerina Liontaki, Vassilis Margetis, Elena Marsidou, Dimitris Mosxonas, Dinos Pontikopoulos, Takis Sakellariou, Vassilis Spiropoulos, Elena Topalidou, Yorgis Tsampourakis and Vassilis Zaifidis. Musicians include: Takis Farazis, Stephanos Logothetis, Stephanos Tortopoglou and Nikos Xinos.

About The National Theatre of Greece
In operation for more than 70 years, The National Theatre of Greece has succeeded in molding a powerful theatrical tradition that encompasses ancient Greek drama and the international classical repertoire as well as contemporary Greek, European and international theatre. It consists of five separate companies, including the Central Theatre and the Kotopouli Theatre, which are dedicated to the classic and contemporary dramatic repertoires, the New Theatre, which provides young artists with a voice and seeks to promote contemporary and post-modern theatre, the Experimental Theatre, whose goals include researching, exploring and experimenting with new forms of on-stage expression, and the Children’s Theatre, which provides an educational hub for youth and performs works inspired by Greek Mythology, classics from the international repertoire, fairytales and special adaptations of ancient drama for children.

Through vision, tenacity and faith to its work, The National Theatre of Greece’s ongoing goal is to be a modern theatre with unbending artistic and qualitative standards, open to Europe and the rest of the world, and responsive to the requirements of our age.

The Persians performs from Saturday, September 16 to Wednesday, September 20 on the following schedule: Saturday through Wednesday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets for The Persians are $75, $55 and $35, and special discounts are offered for students and groups. Tickets can be ordered by calling CityTix at (212) 581- 1212 or online at www.nycitycenter.org.

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