Aristophanes' The Birds
Karolos Koun's legendary direction of Aristophanes' The Birds is being revived and performed on 2 August at Evripidio Theater in Salamina.A landmark in contemporary Greek theatre history, this performance was originally produced in 1959 as the result of a co-operation between the top internationally renowned Greek artists of the time in the fields of music, visual arts, dance and theatre.
Manos Hadjidakis composed the music, Yannis Tsarouhis designed the sets and costumes, Zouzou Nikoloudi was responsible for the choreography and Karolos Koun structured all partial elements into a distinct whole full of colors. The whole production has a festive atmosphere that resembles Greek community feasts.
From 1962 to 1967 the performance was invited to major theatre institutions such as the Shakespeare Festival in Britain, the Theatre of Nations in Paris and others in Warsaw, Zurich, Israel, Belgrade, Venice and Cyprus. This year, it was presented in Beijing as part of the Greek Cultural Year in China.
In keeping with the practices of ancient Athens, contemporary revivals of ancient Greek dramas are being performed in open-air amphitheatres similar to the ancient Theatre of Dionysus by the Acropolis. So, even if you don't understand the language, don't miss the opportunity to experience theatre in the same way the Athenians used to do 2,500 years ago.
See the video of the 1959 performance
The play's plot in brief
Fed up with the artifices of their contemporary social, political and religious life, two Athenians, Euelpides and Pisthetairos, decide to establish a new city where justice and pleasure will rule. To accomplish this, they call upon the birds and propose to join them and establish a new city up in the clouds, taking advantage of the area in between humans and gods. The birds will issue an embargo on the gods, not letting any of the humans' sacrifices get to the gods, and not allowing any god to get to Earth without the birds' permission. After this, they will send an ambassador to mankind, demanding they recognize the supremacy of the birds and give them priority in all sacrifices. The birds agree and together they start building the new city.
A number of city figures such as a priest, a poet, a prophet, a geometrician, an inspector and a legislator come one after the other, offering their abilities in the establishment of the new city, but they are all sent away by Pisthetairos; the new city will be like no other and will not repeat the mistakes of its predecessors.
Prometheus comes and announces that both the Olympian and Barbarian gods are starving, and they are preparing a delegation to come to the city of Birds to negotiate peace. He advises Pisthetairos to ask for no less than Zeus' sceptre and the goddess Vassileia (the name means "kingdom") to be his wife.
Indeed, Poseidon, Hercules and Triballon all come to negotiate peace. In the beginning, Poseidon is very aggressive and refuses Pisthetairos' demands. But eventually he realises he has no choice and agrees, and the play concludes with Pisthetairos and Vassileia's wedding and the wedding feast
Evripidio Theater, Salamina
€20, 15 (consessions)
Ticket booking: Evripidio Theatro Box-Office