Euripides is upset after finding out that women are bent on punishing him for his unflattering portrayal of female characters. Seeing as they are about to celebrate the Thesmophoria, a festival attended exclusively by women, Euripides comes up with a plan: he decides to have a friend of his infiltrate the festival, disguised as a woman, and vindicate him. Mnesilochus is up to the task. At the festival, the women of Thesmophoria, the Thesmophoriazusae – also serving as the chorus – accuse Euripides. Mnesilochus takes the floor and joins the accusers, before trying to support Euripides, arguing that women are responsible for far worse than what they have been depicted doing in Euripides’ tragedies. Just as the chorus begins to lose patience with him, Cleisthenes, a well-known, notoriously effeminate Athenian of the time, shows up. He announces that a man, dressed in women’s clothes, is rumoured to be among them. Mnesilochus is unmasked and accused of violating the sacred vows. He tries to warn Euripides that they have been exposed. In his attempt to rescue Mnesilochus, Euripides shows up several times at the Thesmophoria, each time in a different disguise, making a proposition: if they set Mnesilochus free, he will stop disparaging women in his plays. The women accept and the two men are free to go. The comedy ends with the cheering Chorus.
Thesmophoriazusae, one of Aristophanes’ three 'women' plays, was written in 411 B.C., at a time when Democracy was overthrown and replaced by Oligarchy. In this play, women call for political stability. Nowadays, women are no longer in the same difficult position. They are no longer forced to merely fantasize about the institutions of the Polis instead of actively participating in them. However, there are still plenty of citizen groups with no access to the workings of the Polis. A play about gender, the quest of personal identity, the right to equal civil rights, the crisis in values, law and nature. Above all, a play bursting with humour and theatricality, enabling actors to be fully present on stage as political entities.
The performance will feature a new translation by Pantelis Boukalas, that is at once poetic and faithful to the original. In the footsteps of our previous collaboration in The Acharnians, I wanted to test the relevance and power of Aristophanes' text, without making any adjustments to the original.
I opted for a cast of established, mostly younger actors; having worked with many of them before, I believe our familiarity with create the conditions for effective onstage communication and a common performing language.
Composer Nikos Kypourgos, celebrated for the songs and scores he has recorded and contributed to the performing arts will create a soundscape that will be integral the plot; the songs and music of the performance will be performed live on stage by the entire cast, the latter thus becoming a live orchestra of sorts.
Visually, the performance will draw on Angelos Mentis' costumes and Magdalini Avgerinou's set design to allude to the recent history of Greece, retaining the freshness of our contemporary times.