2012 Stanford Summer Theatre - The wandering of Odysseus

  • Address by the Minister of Culture

    “In unsteady eras, as nowadays, culture is a powerful antidote to everyday trials and tribulations and a guide to orient ourselves again – on the basis of the substantive and always meaningful, not on the basis of the up to the minute. Culture, material and immaterial, should be the comparative advantage of our country and its actual lever of development. Not the heavy industry, as it is often said to be – I refuse to speak with such terms for such a magnitude – but the inner drive of the people. 
    The first concern of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports is the protection of the cultural heritage, and at the same time, the designation of contemporary artistic creation, the union of history with the present. Thus, such initiatives, as the one that Michael Cacoyannis Foundation took for ancient Greek drama, have a special meaning. With the project “Ancient Greek Drama: Influences and Contemporary Approaches”, Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, in cooperation with important academic institutions from abroad, promote research and study of the ancient Greek drama and offers the opportunity to young artists and students to broaden their knowledge. Thanks to this project, the study of the inheritance of the past is acquainted with contemporary artistic creation, serving not only for the salvage of what is a world cultural legacy, but also for the promotion of contemporary cultural production. 
    I would like to congratulate Michael Cacoyannis Foundation for, in times when we need to re-define what is meaningful, serving vigorously its Founder’s vision, promoting essentially culture and looking for effective ways to articulate its program, beyond the unfortunate shrinking of the state subsidies. I am sure that the project “Ancient Greek Drama: Influences and Contemporary Approaches” will bear spiritual fruit and will contribute to the re-positioning of our country to the international cultural and educational map, armed with its comparative advantage.”
    Kostas Tzavaras
    Minister of Culture
  • Address by General Secretary of Culture

    “It is a great joy to welcome Stanford University to Athens, in the framework of Michael Cacoyannis Foundation’s new initiative for the establishment of an international network for research, study and teaching of the Ancient Greek Drama, at the city where Theatre was born. The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, through its General Secretariat for Culture, fully supports this program, having included it in the co-financed projects as part of the Attica Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013.
    By such an initiative, the discussion between the past and the future is actually happening, as well as the dialogue among different cultural inheritances, social groups and artistic approaches. This is absolutely necessary if we wish to keep alive and current the humanistic inheritance and to enrich it with modern readings and interpretations addressed by contemporary artists to the 21st century audience, thus developing a dynamic and interactive relationship. Besides, this was one of Michael Cacoyannis’ main goals not only in his cinema adaptations of Ancient Drama, but also in his theatrical works, which always had, to borrow his words, “a match to reality”. 
    Readings and interpretations that deal with the Ancient Greek Drama holistically in the framework of a performance, that is to say, as a text destined to become sight and hearing. Perhaps also, this is the greatest challenge, since apart from the poem, the rest of the elements of its original composition, i.e. the music, the instrumentation, the acting and the set design are, in a great extent, lost, as well as the co-texts of the original performance, which were directly identified with the political, social and religious being of the classical city. A loss, nevertheless, that leaves us with an open window to creation and imagination. 
    The suggestion of a play based on Homer’s Odyssey, being the first of a series of multilevel collaborations between Michael Cacoyannis Foundation and Universities or theatrical organizations in Greece and abroad, is really fascinating. It is intended as a totally contemporary outlook having as a starting point the dramatization of the epic narration and the narrative action, and as its basis the actual dramatic human adventure of Odysseus. 
    To take on classical inheritance constitutes a fertile field for the development of a multi-scientific approach. All the more so, when combined to a full teaching of the audience and its induction to central issues of theatrical theory and action, by specialists, as in this program. I would like to congratulate with all my heart and wish the best to all the contributors to this effort.”
    Dr Lina Mendoni 
    General Secretary of Culture
  • Address by th General Manager / Vice Chancellor Michael Cacoyannis Foundation

    A story and a study  
    The story 
    Luo Nian Sheng was the person who introduced Ancient Greek Theatre to the Chinese people. He studied literature at the greatest Universities of the United States and was charmed by the rich tradition of Greece and the way Ancient Greek playwrights expressed their concern on human existence. During the Japanese invasion in China in 1930`s, he stimulated the masses so as to protect their country, by narrating them stories of the Ancient Greek theatre that inspire people facing hard circumstances.
    The study
    McKinsey’s knowledgeable financial analysts in the study conducted on behalf of SEV (Hellenic Federation for Enterprises) in cooperation with the Bank of Greece and the Hellenic Bank Association, note that one of the two minor industries that can constitute a new extrovert model towards Greek Economy’s growth is the creation and development of programs on Classical Studies. It also points out that our country has not only the historical inheritance, but also the proximity to ancient sites and theatres, to be considered as the “physical host”, for programs on Classical Studies. According to the study, the opportunity for Greece lies in the institution of international programs towards this direction, as part of a greater strategy for tourism.
    What led us to the proposal
    Michael Cacoyannis is a person of international status. Ancient Drama is what Michael Cacoyannis had intensively dealt with, with peak the direction of his well known trilogy of films. With this framework, Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, in the framework of Attica Regional Operational Programme 2007-2013, elaborates the Act with the subject: Ancient Greek Drama: “Influences and Contemporary Approaches”, aiming to:
    • the introduction of the research, study and practice on ancient drama by internationally acknowledged universities from abroad to young Greek artists and the Greek audience. 
    • the unique opportunity that young artists and students have to broaden their knowledge through intensive seminars and workshops that might work as a very powerful tool in their forthcoming career, especially in such difficult times for our country. 
    • making Athens a point of reference, since the program will act as a means of dialogue, exchange of opinions and artistic practices and techniques on Ancient Greek Drama.
    We give space to other, acknowledged Universities, to present their approach on Ancient Greek Drama. We give space to dialogue. It is not our intention to substitute research or activity of the Greek academic community.
    Xenia Kaldara
    General Manager / Vice Chancellor 
    Michael Cacoyannis Foundation
  • Address by Coordinator of the Project

    “In Homer’s Odyssey, the Greek hero Odysseus, a veteran of the decade-long Trojan war, journeys home to his native Ithaca. The man of “many ways” loses his way and himself. He wanders in distant lands, suffers in inhospitable settings, experiences physical isolation. In his travels, he acquires a new set of survival skills, displays endurance and self-control, and hones his character. Odysseus becomes gradually socialized, re-establishes his home in Ithaca, and reclaims his role as Penelope’s husband and Telemachus’ father.
    The Odyssean voyage – quest is a frequent topos of world literature. In Aristophanes, the comic hero travels to escape the physical world of war-ridden Athens (Birds, Thesmophoriazusae, Frogs, Ploutos). Appropriations of Homer persist in the epic poems of the Hellenistic period (Apollonius’ Argonautica), the Roman period (Vergil’s Aeneid); and, in the demoticist John Psycharis’ My Journey (1888). The Alexandrian poet of the Greek diaspora, Constantine Cavafy, redefined the goal of the voyage for the modern world: “Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage. Without her you would never have taken the road” (Ithaca, 1911). In Irish James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), the Odyssean character Leopold Bloom crisscrosses Dublin on June 16, 1904. In Nikos Kazantzakis’ long epic The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel (1938), Odysseus constantly wanders in new lands and never reaches Ithaca. For the poet laureate of Greece, George Seferis, questions such as “What do our souls seek journeying on the decks of decayed ships?” (Mythical Story, 1935), deliver a timeless answer, “In the beginning was the journey” (Thrush, 1947).  
    In 19th century European literature, travelling to Greece was a pilgrimage, a journey to the navel-centre of western civilization and back to the ancestral homeland. In Seferis’ poems, the theme of nostos (‘homecoming’) becomes a search for an alternative “Hellenic Hellenism” through sophisticated literary citations of Homer’s Odyssey, replacing the “European Hellenism” of the Rennaisance. Contemporary heroes wonder in a world in crisis, often in search of a lost center. “The first thing that God made was the journey. And then, the doubt and nostalgia”, says the protagonist of Ulysses’ Gaze (1995), a film by the Greek director Theo Angelopoulos.
    Honored to bring our production of Wanderings and our series of seminars and workshops to Greece, we dedicate our own journey to the contemporary Greek audiences at the Michael Cacoyannis’ Foundation. We remain confident that Greece will come out of the current crisis stronger and wiser, with a redefined sense of Hellenism fit for our polycentric world.”
    Prof. Katerina Zacharia
    Coordinator of the Project
    “Ancient Greek Drama: Influences & Contemporary Approaches” 
    for 2012