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  • When Yannis Kokkos finally refused to go ahead with the direction of the huge State Theatre of Northern Greece project that was Xenakis' Oresteia, the artistic director of the company, Vassilis Papavassiliou, offered me the job. I was like a fire-fighter to the rescue. I had just one month to conceive and produce this massive show to be staged at the Epidaurus Ancient Theatre. I was 31 years old. I said, "No." He insisted. I said, "Only if we agree upon a perfectly outlined script and you decide that you can afford to produce it." He said, "OK." I wrote the detailed script in two days, illustrating it like a comic book, and sent it over by fax (I was in Luxembourg working with Michael Cacoyannis at the time). He said, "Yes." I said, "OK."

    This was a big-time emergency. I was looking for a set designer who could manage the task of designing and overseeing the construction of five tall towers at the ancient theatre of Epidaurus. Papavassiliou introduced me to Lili Pezanou. I showed her the script and she said, smiling, "It's doable." We've been working together ever since. She also introduced me to the lighting designer Alekos Yiannaros, who became one of my favourite collaborators. The next four weeks were a time of frenzied preparations. This was the dress rehearsal for the Olympic Ceremonies (2004). I followed the exact same method when I accepted that appointment: I presented a detailed script, on the basis of which I signed the contract. When we reached the day of the première and I was finally on top of things, a storm broke at Epidaurus, flooding everything. It was a disaster. I remember thinking to myself: "So you think you have control?" The lighting console burnt out, and we could not perform on the first night. Thousands had come from Athens to see the show. We performed on the second day. Having worked together so intensively on such a big production made it quite clear to us that we were very effective as a group because we had real faith in what we were doing.

    Founded on what I consider to be a smart concept, the project never fulfilled its potential, and finally appeared as a flamboyant sketch of what could have been. In a direct reference to the staging of MEDEA (1993), where each character had a table-cum-platform of their own, the five towers were like the enormous buskin-boots of the five main characters of the trilogy: Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Electra, Cassandra and Orestes. Even though my vision never came to fruition, I am amused when I recall what daring and beautiful comic book-like images I planted in the conservative setting of Epidaurus: Agamemnon taking a shower naked, seven metres off the ground, before his murder; Cassandra (Angeliki Stellatou on a bungee rope) flying inside a seven-metre-tall cage, a moth-like puppet whose strings are manipulated by the Sun God above; Clytemnestra's breasts spurting fountains of milk before she is killed by her son Orestes; and Orestes being haunted by the Furies - here dozens of climbers dressed in black who swarm over the entire surface of his seven-metre-tall tower like ants. The arrogance inherent in undertaking the last-minute direction of ORESTEIA, inexperienced as I was, triggered the first hostile reviews.
Featuring Oresteia -The Aeschylus Suite by Iannis Xenakis
Commissioned by the State Theatre of Northern Greece
60 minutes
Première: 2 July 1995, at the Epidaurus Ancient Theatre (Epidavros-Greece)
Sponsored by Macedonia Thrace Bank, Thessaloniki European Capital City of Culture 1997

Visual Concept - Direction - Choreography: Dimitris Papaioannou
Music: Ianis Xenakis
Set & Costume Design: Lili Pezanou
Lighting Design: Alekos Yiannaros
Make-up: Angelos Mendis
Assistant Director: Tina Papanikolaou
Performers: Valia Dimitraki, Pigi Dimitrakopoulou-Seirli, Nikos Dragonas, Maro Grigoriou, Grigoris Lagos, Fotis Nikolaou, Elissavet Papakonstantinou, Mata Sakka, Angeliki Stellatou, Elena Topalidou, Olga Yerogiannaki, Yiannis Yiaples, Stavros Zalmas, a team of 28 athletes, a 13-member Orchestra, an 80-member Choir

Music Director: Michel Tabasnic
Baritone: Spyros Sakkas
Percussion: Sylvio Gualda
Choir Director: Antonis Kontogeorgiou
Childrens Choir Director: Michalis Patseas (Childrens's Choir from the Greek National Radio and the Kodály Music College)