Tag Archives: theatre travel

Day 4 The Theatre of Apollo at Delphi

SEE THE WORLD AND SEE WORLD THEATRE

THE THEATRE OF APOLLO AT DELPHI
Today I utilized the knowledge and experience of a conducted tour, and as I had already seen the main Festival offering, Ibsen’s, An Enemy of the People, at the 2012 Melbourne International Arts Festival, I opted for a leisurely Greek taverna dinner with an Athenian friend in the evening.

The exceedingly well organized tour was headed by an exceptional guide who cheerfully imparted her wealth of historical, mythological and topical material. Leaving Athens, the bus took a 2 hr drive through its urban sprawl, fertile plains and seaports, into the dizzying heights of the mountains. Amongst the urban sprawl was the location of Marathon, the plains of Thebes, the Sanctuary of Olympia, the site of The Muses, and the Temple to Demeter, which is of great interest to me as it is the Temple associated with the Mysteries School.

In terms of Greek Theatre, David Wiles has devoted a good deal of scholarship to the notion of the significance of place. Indeed this was an element I engaged in my own Masters thesis in as much as a playwright will make reference to a place and by association, the audience will appreciate the deep meaning. Although associations of place had already been aroused in me, in view of actually passing through the places encountered in ancient literature, it is an area I would like to explore in my future studies of Greek drama texts.

The Temple of Apollo is located on Mount Parnassus. The extraordinary rugged beauty of the place in high summer belies its existence as a winter playground for cross country skiing and snowboarding and other snow activities I know nothing about!

Arriving at the Temple of Apollo, and passing through the agora, one is seemingly greeted by the imposing columns of the altar at the entrance to the temple, and at which, supposed sacrifices took place prior to performances in the theatre.
Theatre, according to one source, http://www.coastal.edu/ashes2art/delphi2/sanctuary/theatre.html, was a sacred act with the priest of the temple officiating. Actors were also sacred and highly revered, and from my observations, this attitude seems to persist amongst modern Greeks.
The ampitheatre, which seats 5000, is well preserved and overlooks the The Temple. As the patron of Delfi, Apollo is the god of light, music, poetry, healing, prophecy and more, and is the twin brother of Artemis, goddess of hunting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo, gives an excellent account of Apollo’s duties as the Patron of Delphi/Delfi and also makes clear the positioning of Delphi as the navel of the world. Indeed the ancient ompholos is represented by a concrete replica on site with the supposed original ? or at least, another replica housed in the site museum.
Our guide explained that the site is exceptionally high in magnetic energy, which in turn, is associated with prophecy. I watched as a tourist carefully placed his hands on the concrete ompholos and I hope he was blessed with a suitable Delphic response.

When I asked the guide about contemporary use of the theatre, she informed me that several years ago, Vanessa Redgrave had performed Phaedre here. Wow! (even though it’s unsubstantiated.)

The visit to this site has revealed just how much more I want to learn about Ancient Greece. It is very inspirational. For my next trip, I intend to have expanded my knowledge and to have obtained a passable amount of basic Greek. For the most part, people working in museums and tourist places speak English, but everyone responds very well when you greet them with kalimera and acknowledge them with efpharisto.

Dinner in a back street taverna near Monastiraki was wonderful. Angela Makris ordered a wide range of local delicacies ranging from deep fried feta with honey and oregano, local salad, meatballs, and I can’t remember what else. Although I do remember the ouzo. I really enjoy the freshness and relative simplicity of Greek food and the taste of tomatoes and other salad vegetables is very different from Australian salad vegetables. Maybe Greek soil is magic!

Walking through the main streets of Athens at night was without incident and at no time have I felt unsafe.

Fuenteovejuna by Lope de Vega

Placa en la Plaza Mayor de Almagro
Placa en la Plaza Mayor de Almagro (Photo credit: elarequi61)

This evening I finished reading this extraordinary play in a dual language version.  Regarded as Lope’s most famous work, it is a tale of honour and the power of the common people.  Quite apart from the poignancy of the piece amongst brutality and even The Rack, the setting of the play in the Almagro /Ciudad Real area of Spain is of great interest as it is where I will be seeing a representation of the work at the Almagro Festival.

Lope de Vega, like Shakespeare, incorporated historical occurrences in his writings and for anyone lacking in the finer detail of Spanish history, the translator of the text, Stanley Appelbaum (Dover Publications) provides a comprehensive background to the work and  a fine account of Lope de Vega‘s poetic form.  This read has been an enriching experience and confirms the notion of theatre belonging to place. How greatly I am looking forward to seeing this work in its authentic environment even if it is some 600 years on and with postmodern dramaturgy.  Incidentally, according to Appelbaum, Lope de Vega wrote Fuenteovejuna between 1611 and 1618 and the actual incident occurred on 22 and 23 April, 1476.

The play is colourful, humourous and immensely rich in medieval chivalry. I highly recommend it.

Travel Frenzy!

Only 27 days to go before I’m on the plane to Athens! I’m in a travel frenzy organising iphone and ipad communications and theatre reservations.

Athens: 5 shows in 6 days including Antigone, Iphigenia at Aulis and best of all, Medea, at the Ancient Theatre at Epidaurus. My 3 favourite plays that happen to be about women.

Spoleto: Because theatre in Rome is closed for the summer I decided to head north to Umbria and although it is not in my plan of tracing theatre history chronologically, there is some not-to be-missed theatre such as Robert Wilson‘s The Old Woman and Irina Brook‘s, Island Trilogy. Some times one can just get lucky!

But another stroke of luck, I did find classical Roman theatre in Spain. So as well as doing the Almagro festival I will head over to Merida for a production of The Golden Ass by the second century author,  Apuleius. It is the only Latin novel to survive in its entirety. Please check out the Roman ampitheatre it’s extraordinary!   http://www.spain.info/en/reportajes/teatro_romano_de_merida_el_ultimo_refugio_de_las_musas.html

Finally thanks to Pan Australian Travel for being so accommodating to my theatrical whims.  http://www.panaustravel.com.au

English: Illustration of the Golden Ass by Jea...
English: Illustration of the Golden Ass by Jean de Bosschère. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)