Online streaming of selected Athens & Epidaurus Festival performances
As part of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports initiative “We Stay at Home with Culture”
Comédie-Française – Ivo van Hove
Electra / Orestes
Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, 26 – 27 July 2019
The Athens & Epidaurus Festival continues to offer free streaming of selected filmed performances and concerts, drawn from its rich archive. Participating in the Ministry of Culture initiative “We Stay at Home with Culture”, the Festival shares memorable moments from its long history, staying in touch with audiences, until the time is ripe for everybody to come together and once again taste the Festival’s unique vibe and live theatrical experiences.
Sophocles’ Antigone, directed by Lefteris Voyatzis (Epidaurus Festival 2006 & 2007), met with an enthusiastic response, being watched at home by over 36,000 viewers within 24 hours. Now, coming up next, after the upcoming streaming of Dimitris Dimitriadis’ Insenso, directed by Michail Marmarinos (Athens Festival 2012 & 2013) on Saturday 2 May, audiences will have the opportunity to watch another production that left its mark on the Festival history on 9 May; a truly outstanding performance, both due to its stellar cast and breathtaking direction, but also because it marked the debut of Comédie-Française, the world’s oldest active theatre company, at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. Directed by Ivo van Hove, one of the most acclaimed theatre directors in the world, this production of Euripides’ Electra / Orestes was the fruit of a collaboration that was years in the making. The two foremost cultural institutions of France and Greece, Comédie-Française and Athens & Epidaurus Festival respectively, joined forces to deliver a sharply modern directorial tour de force about the interpretation of ancient Greek tragedy, gripping and riveting audiences in both Epidaurus and Paris.
Part of our newly launched RE-REPRESENTATIONS initiative, this production also provides the occasion for a joint event involving both the Athens & Epidaurus Festival and Comédie-Française, as Electra / Orestes will be streamed simultaneously on the respective channels of the two institutions on Saturday 9 May at 21:30 (local Greek time) where it will remain available for 24 hours – another testament to this historic collaboration.
The director’s perspective
Electra and Orestes are brother and sister. Young, hurt, fragile and vulnerable, they turn into savage beasts. They have never really known their father, who left when they were little to serve as the commander of the Greek army in the Trojan War. Agamemnon has attained heroic status in their eyes by virtue of his absence. They think of their mother, Clytemnestra, as the enemy, and of their family home as the battleground. Driven away from their home, the former royal offspring, Electra and Orestes, have become refugees inside their own family and country.
The family is the Gordian knot of society, and, as such, creates a number of problems. We find ourselves in front of a mirror, confronted with the negative image of our own impulses. Is this an incestuous family? Not in the literal (or at least, not just in the literal) sense of the word, but in the sense of family as a battlefield on the one hand, a place where problems are resolved, and on the other hand, a place to separate the wheat from the chaff, those who have been chosen to stay from those who will be permanently banished.
In our performance of Electra / Orestes, we wanted to enact a world of great cruelty, a naturalistic world even, on stage. Truth be told, I conceived this performance as a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art in the Wagnerian sense of the term, in the sense that we are perhaps taking part in a ritual.
I consider myself Belgian as much as I consider myself European and citizen of the world. Talking about society means talking about the world at large. The Greeks posed a crucial question: what is that element that unites us instead of dividing us? This is the central question in Electra / Orestes.
I enjoyed my collaboration with the actors of Comédie-Française immensely. I felt they have a burning desire to perform theatre; a visceral need to embark on an artistic adventure. Admittedly, Comédie-Française and Toneelgroep Amsterdam are my two best experiences as a director. When Éric Ruf proposed another collaboration, I accepted at once.
Ivo van Hove
A few words about Comédie-Française
Commonly known as the Maison de Molière (House of Molière), Comédie-Française was founded in 1680 and since then has been perpetuating the work and heritage of Molière, playwright, actor, and troupe leader. With a repertoire of more than 3,000 plays, “Le Français” presents a mixture of classic, modern, and contemporary works by French and foreign playwrights.
Comédie-Française presents approximately 800 performances per year on its three stages, Salle Richelieu, Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, and Studio-Théâtre, as well as on tour, attracting an audience of more than 350,000 people annually.
Comédie-Française has toured extensively in Europe, USA, Korea, Japan, Australia, South America, and most recently visited London, New York, and Moscow. The very first international trip was to London in 1867.
For more than three centuries, Comédie-Française has constantly surprised and stood out as an exceptional, thriving, and creative “theatre factory.” To deserve this definition, it carefully founds its exceptional status, its durability, and its vitality on pillars that are as solid as they are immutable: the Troupe, the Repertoire, and the demanding principle of alternating productions.
Electra / Orestes
Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2019
Translated into French by Marie Delcourt-Curvers • Directed by Ivo van Hove • Stage version Bart Van den Eynde – Ivo van Hove • Set and lighting design Jan Versweyveld • Costume design An D’Huys • Original music – Sound concept Eric Sleichim • Choreography Wim Vandekeybus • Dramaturgy Bart Van den Eynde • Assistant to the director Laurent Delvert • Assistant to the set designer Roel Van Berckelaer • Assistant to the costume designer Sylvie Lombart • Assistant to the lighting designer François Thouret • Assistant to the sound designer Pierre Routin • Assistant to the choreographer Laura Aris
With the actors of Comédie-Française
Claude Mathieu (Coryphaeus), Cécile Brune (Chorus), Sylvia Bergé (Chorus), Éric Génovèse (a Phrygian slave), Bruno Raffaelli (an old Mycenaean man), Denis Podalydès (Menelaus), Elsa Lepoivre (Clytemnestra and Helen), Julie Sicard (Chorus), Loïc Corbery (Pylades), Suliane Brahim (Electra), Benjamin Lavernhe (Mycenaean peasant), Didier Sandre (Tyndareus), Christophe Montenez (Orestes), Rebecca Marder (Hermione), Gaël Kamilindi (Apollo)
And the actors of L’Académie de la Comédie-Française
Peio Berterretche (Aegisthus), Pauline Chabrol, Olivier Lugo, Noëmie Pasteger, Léa Schweitzer (Chorus)
Percussion Adélaide Ferrière, Emmanuel Jacquet, Rodolphe Théry – Trio Xenakis, Othman Louati
Make-up artist Claire Cohen
French translation published by Éditions Gallimard in the Folio theatre collection
Produced by Comédie-Française in collaboration with the Athens & Epidaurus Festival
Paris premiere Salle Richelieu, 27 April 2019
Epidaurus premiere 26 July 2019
With the support of Fondation pour la Comédie-Française
Supported by the Institut Français de Grèce
Photos Evi Fylaktou – Jan Versweyveld coll. Comédie-Française
Electra / Orestes will be streamed online with Greek subtitles on Saturday 9 May 2020 through our official YouTube channel: Greek Festival, where it will remain available for free streaming for 24 hours. The performance will also be streamed simultaneously, with English subtitles, on the Comédie-Française channel.
Due to this simultaneous streaming, the performance is scheduled to start streaming at 21:30 (local Greek time), unlike the two previous Festival performances that had started at 19:00.
Warning: Some scenes may offend the sensitivity of audiences
Streaming starts at 21:30 (local Greek time) / YouTube: Greek Festival
In the coming weeks, we will continue to offer you free online streaming of Athens & Epidaurus Festival performances and concerts that stood out in recent years, especially those filmed in a format that allows their broadcast. Follow us on our official website and social media where we will keep you posted on things to come.
Online streaming is possible thanks to the support of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports.
DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that shows have been filmed
as a documentation of the Festival’s history
and were not intended for public broadcast.
We ask for the audience’s understanding for any technical issues.
Watch the Athens & Epidaurus Festival events:
YouTube Greek Festival