For only the second time in 42 years, the amphitheatre in Salamis, Famagusta will stage an ancient Greek tragedy this month.
The play Antigoni by Sophocles is the first collaboration between the National Theatre of Greece, the National Theatre of Northern Greece and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC).
After it has toured Greece and following three performances in Nicosia, the joint production will be staged in Curium and Salamis.
“This production has toured the important amphitheatres such as Epidaurus and Delfi in the summer, and now it will tour Cyprus. There is a performance in Curium and it is important to include Salamis as part of the greater tour,” Vice Chairman of THOC, Stavros Kyriakides said on Tuesday.
“The performance last year in Salamis was very well received, better than expected. The am-phitheatre was full, and there were people from all communities – people were very touched,” he added.
Not everybody shares his enthusiasm. Solidarity movement’s leader Eleni Theocharous ex-pressed her deepest sorrow for the planned performance, which she considers particularly provocative.
“We will never stop protesting because the ancient Salamis theatre is not under the control of the government and any representation is an act of recognition of the puppet regime,” she said, adding “as a movement we will express our dislike in letters to the Greek Prime Minis-ter, to the Minister of Education and Culture, to the leaders of the Greek political parties, to the directors of both theatres and to the whole spiritual world of Greece, and will protest to the European Parliament Committee on Culture,” Theocharous said.
Right-wing Elam also condemned the production, calling it a shame and disgrace and asking the government to cancel the performance.
“Our history troubles everybody,” Thoc’s vice chairman said commenting on the reactions by the politicians. “But the decision by the board of directors to use the Salamis theatre was unanimous this year. We don’t give up on our right to visit the theatre and want to promote the entire island. Like the churches keep the memory alive with services, we keep our culture alive with performances in our amphitheatres.
“If we are going to live together we should work together. Last year a committee was set up to promote such cultural meetings. This will be an opportunity for Turkish Cypriots to see a Greek tragedy. One can only gain and it should not be seen in any other political context.”
Antigone was probably first performed at the Great Dionysia festival of 441 BCE, and was written by Sophocles as a response to the exile of Themistocles, the victor of the Battle of Salamis. In this drama, the conflict between the moral law and the law of the state is high-lighted, with the two protagonists unable to escape the tragic fate that has been decreed for them.
Greek director Stathis Livathinos chose Sophocles’ most celebrated play with a staging in mind that would put three generations of actors together on stage. The production will be staged in a new translation by Dimitris Maronitis.
Antigone by Sophocles
September 16-18, School of the blind theatre, Nicosia. 8.30pm. €17/8. Greek with English and Turkish subtitles. Tel: 22-864300, September 21-23 Curium amphitheatre €17/8. Septem-ber 28 Salamis amphitheatre, Famagusta, entrance free