Two years ago, adding “Live” next to the title of the Athens Epidaurus Festival would be considered an overstatement, maybe even a mistype. Of course the biggest cultural festival in Greece—and one of the oldest in Europe—would be live. What else could it possibly be? We all know what happened next.
Roll forward to the announcement of this year’s programme for the Athens Epidaurus Festival, and we can’t stress the excitement factor of the “Live” part enough. The people behind AEF did a remarkable job last summer. Their "Fragment" programme - although a, well, fragment of what was initially planned - featured most of the very few performances that did actually take place physically in Greece, and to great success.
Now, they've learned all the tricks on how to carefully balance the obstacles of social distancing with the requirements of a real life event - and with the anticipation and bottled creativity of a culturally-barren year, the Athens Epidaurus Festival has just announced its 5-month-long, 80-show-strong live programme. The summer season will be focused mainly on works by Greek artists, leaving the autumn season to shoot for the safer actualization of international events. Due to the ongoing pandemic, all performance dates are subject to change so please make sure to regularly check with the festival’s schedule. We'll be bringing you our digested pick of the highlights shortly. In the meantime, you can watch the announcement video (with English subtitles) and read through the detailed programme below.
As always, the main host venues will be the Odeon of Herod Atticus and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus (plus its smaller sibling, The Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus.) More news to bring smiles to our faces is the festival’s decision to lean into one of the city's beloved urban spaces as a hosting venue; the Peiraios 260 industrial complex.
All of this year’s events have been scheduled to be performed live and, if needed, online. Having undergone an invigorating brand identity makeover, in tandem with a more progressive framing of the festival’s 66-year-old history, the AEF will drill down into the following themes this year:
Greek and international productions that touch upon gender issues and equality. The Festival, an institution largely comprised of women, could not be absent from this significant ongoing discussion sparked by the #metoo movement.
This thematic section will focus on new dramaturgical approaches of ancient Greek drama, featuring works presented in Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, and the Little Theatre of Ancient Epidaurus, as well as the interdisciplinary research programme Parodos.
Startlingly original and unexpected crossovers and collaborations that push the boundaries of arts and aesthetic trends, in the form of concerts, hybrid performances, and installations.
As part of the festival’s tribute to the 1821 Bicentennial of the Greek War of Independence, theatre and dance artists have been commissioned to create original works that reflect on the Revolutionary War’s legacy in a subversive manner, exploring different aspects of this historic milestone.
And in an Athens and Epidaurus Festival first, hip-hop culture will enter the arena with The Layers of Street dance thematic cycle, and Chronotopia, a two-day-fest of electronic music held in collaboration with Berlin’s CTM Festival and Goethe Institut.