The play by John Lignadis titled “War, Teacher of Violence: The Plataia Affair and other Tragic Events”, is composed of selected passages from the first five book of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War and presents in dramatized form events from the first half of the Peloponnesian War.
The play focuses on the historical events related to the fall of Plataia (431-428 BCE), followed by a series of dramatic historic moments such as the first speeches of King Archidamos of Sparta and Pericles of Athens which determined the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the funeral oration of Pericles, the plague following the Periclean speech (431/30 BCE), the last phase of the civil war at Corcyra (425 BCE) and the Melian Dialogue (416 BCE).
This student performance was staged for the first time -with great success- in August 2016 at the Old Olive Press Theater in Eleusis, as part of the prestigious Aisxylia Festival and with the exclusive support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
The educational nature of the performance is primarily evident in its attempt to shed light on the complex mechanisms that create the phenomenon of war. The performance seeks to teach an important lesson: on the cognitive level its objective is to combine the knowledge and understanding of the ancient historical narrative with modern political discourse; on the psychological level, it transmits the tragic emotions that are produced by military violence. The combination of these factors creates, as a result, a very valuable and lasting educational experience.
In Fall 2016, a series of sold-out performances of “War, Teacher of Violence” took place at the historic Basement stage of the Art Theater – Karolos Koun in Athens.
For 2017, the performance is hosted at academic and educational institutions (schools, foundations, universities) and is combined with talks, lectures and discussions on Thucydides and Theater.
Hosts include, among others, the Theater Studies Department of University of Athens for the event “Thucydides and the Theatrical Gene”, the International and European Studies Department of University of Piraeus for “Thucydides: Empire, Democracy and Necessity”, the Epigraphic Museum for the official opening of its new exhibition, the Cultural Foundation of the National Bank of Greece and the Dodoni Cultural Center at the Ancient Theater of Dodoni.
In English and Greek with surtitles. Duration: 60 minutes.
The main objective of the play is the experiential reception of the “war fact”. The dramatization of the historical prose, that is, its elevation from the level of narrative to that of action or imitation (mimesis) renders the experience stronger and more direct. Through dramatization, the individual experience is transformed into a collective one and the feeling of the ephemeral acquires a diachronic meaning, or, as Thucydides himself anticipated, the «αγώνισμα ες το παραχρήμα ακούειν» becomes «κτήμα ες αεί». This seems to be the most important meaning embodied in the phrase “Theater of War”, a phrase which became the general title of the educational program out of which the theatrical performance emerged.
The translation of the text respects in every possible way the letter and the spirit of the original text of Thucydides, however parts of it have been altered for the purposes of dramatization. The performance includes also a poetic and a musical component so as to facilitate the affinity to modern political and social concerns and to increase the emotional impact of the dramatic performance.
The Theater of War
The theatrical performance of the play is the artistic outcome of the educational program “Thucydides Dramaticus: The Theater of War.”. The program was both English and Greek-speaking. Participants included graduate and undergraduate students of Drama Schools and Classics Departments from Greece and abroad. Organized by the Hellenic Education & Research Center with the exclusive support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, “Thucydides Dramaticus” combines the study of History and Archaeology with the practice of Theater.
The two-week program, which took place in August 2016, is a scholarly and artistic study of the Thucydidean history of the Peloponnesian War. Participant Classics and Drama students came from Greece, the USA and Turkey. The program’s main objective was for participants to achieve an experiential grasp of the “war” phenomenon, the mechanisms which produce violence, and the devastating effects of the latter.
During the program, students followed a rigorous educational schedule which included visits to archaeological sites and museums, history classes on the Peloponnesian War, lectures on historical and theatrical subjects, drama workshops and sessions on distinct methodological approaches to theater and literature.
The combination and organic interaction of History, Archaeology and Theater constitute the originality of the program’s educational approach and a fundamental educational, both academic and personal, experience.
John Lignades is a classical philologist specializing in Literary Studies and Ancient Greek Drama. He has taught Ancient Theatre History and Dramaturgy at the Drama Schools of the National Theatre of Greece and the Art Theater – Karolos Koun in Athens. John has translated works of Ancient Drama and European Theater. He has adapted works of ancient literature and has written original plays, most of which have been performed on stage. He has published academic essays, studies and articles on literature and theater studies.
Dimitris Lignadis graduated with honors from the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens and the Drama School of the National Theatre. An experienced and distinguished actor and director, he has worked at the National Theatre, the Athens and Epidaurus Festivals and other theaters. Dimitris has also worked in radio and television. He has taught at the Drama School of the National Theatre of Greece, the Theater Department of the University of Peloponnese, and was in charge of the Τheater Group in the Arsakeia-Tositseia Schools and Athens College.
Yiannis Panagopoulos is a graduate of the National Theater Drama School and of the Athens University of Economics and Business. He has worked at the National Theatreof Greece, the Athens and Epidaurus Festivals, the Athens Concert Hall, the Onassis Cultural Centre and the Theseion Theater in Athens. He was the artistic curator of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2011 Special Olympics in Athens and deputy artistic director for the city of Mesolongi’s bid for Cultural Capital of Europe 2021. Since 2011 he is in charge of the Theater Group of the University of Piraeus.
Elena Kamilari graduated from the University of Athens with a degree in German Literature. She then pursued studies at the Athens School of Drama and entered the acting world, where she performed primarily in Greek tragedies for six years. She is a translator and proofreader for Patakis Publishers, and, with the completion of her M.A. in Theater Studies, is now completing her Ph.D. in the same field. Elena also teaches Creative Drama and fantasy play to elementary school students.
Prof. Adele C. Scafuro
Adele Scafuro has taught in the Classics Department at Brown University since 1983. Before that, she taught for 3 years in the Departments of Classics and English at Vassar College. She received her B.A. from Vassar College (English) and M.A. and Ph.D. (Classical Philology) from Yale University. She resides in Massachusetts during the academic year and spends the summer at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Adele has been studying Athenian law for more than 25 years. She is interested in Greek literature and history, especially in the intersections of law, civic institutions, social life, and performance.
Prof. Bella Vivante
Classics Professor Emerita at the University of Arizona, Bella Vivante teaches Theater combined with Ancient Greek language and literature at academic institutions in the United States. She has studied acting professionally and has performed diverse roles, including many in ancient Greek. She has translated and directed ancient Greek plays, and was scriptwriter and lead actor in the educational movie “Women, Marriage, Family in Ancient Greece”. Feminist and Native American ideas influence her innovative research on women as empowered, as in her book “Daughters of Gaia: Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World”.
Dr. Andronike Makres
Andronike Makres is a founding member of the Hellenic Education & Research Center. She graduated from the School of Philosophy of the University of Athens, Department of Classical Philology and holds a D.Phil. in Ancient History from Oxford University. Her doctoral thesis was on the institution of theater sponsorship in Classical Athens. Her research focuses on ancient Greek history and epigraphy. Andronike has published academic articles in scholarly journals and has contributed in academic volumes, such as “The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Comedy”, the Inscriptiones Graecae, and the publications of the Greek Epigraphical Society, of which she is an elected Board Member.
Selected High Schools in Athens, Spring 2017
St’ Catherines, Moraitis School, Malliaras School, First Haidari Lyceum, Psychiko Arsakeia Schools
Creative & Cast
CREATIVE: Text-Dramaturgy: John Lignadis, Direction: Dimitiris Lignadis – Yiannis Panagopoulos, Stage Coach-Movement: Elena Kamilari, Historical Consultants: Prof. Adele C. Scafuro & Prof. Bella Vivante & Dr. Andronike Makres, Artistic Consultant: Rhea Scourtas, Costume & Set Design: Dimos Klimenof, Lighting Design: Evina Vassilakopoulou, Video Installation: Loukas Ziaras & Christos Kalaitzoglou, Music Supervisor: Mikes Glykas, Still Photography: Theo Veronikis, Publicist: Aris Asproulis, Production Management: George Tziampiris.
CAST: Eylem Abalioglu, Chalil Alizada, Stelios Anastasiadis, Mario Banushi, Matthew Butcher, Alkistis Christopoulou, Eleanna Finokalioti, Panagiotis Gourgoulios, Maria Goutra, Konstantinos Dimitrakakis, Panagos Ioakeim, Sifis Miliarakis, Zoe Mylonas, Jason Nikiteas, Nikos-Ephraim Samouridis, Alexis Sarigian, Ilektra Sarri, Nikos Sigalas, John Simos, Stylianos Vassilas, Katerina Zafeiropoulou.
The performance combines youthful spontaneity and high aesthetics with the authoritative word of the timeless historian. The approach is clear and direct, and therefore mesmerizing. The result, educational and entertaining, is engraved in the audience’s memory. I highly recommend “War, Teacher of Violence” to everyone, both young and adult.
Art Theater Karolos Koun – Basement, October 2016
Creative & Cast
CREATIVE: Text-Dramaturgy: John Lignadis, Direction: Dimitiris Lignadis – Yiannis Panagopoulos, Historical Consultant: Dr. Andronike Makres, Maria Diakoumakou, Artistic Consultant: Rhea Scourtas, Costume & Set Design: Dimos Klimenof, Lighting Design: Konstantinos Mavrantzas, Music Supervisor: Mikes Glykas, Production Management: George Tziampiris.
CAST: Stelios Anastasiadis, Konstantinos Dimitrakakis, Eleanna Finokalioti, George Gogonis, Panagiotis Gourgoulios, Panagos Ioakeim, Zoe Mylonas, Jason Nikiteas, Ilektra Sarri, Anthi Savvaki, Narod Shahinian, Rinos Tzanis.
I was fortunate to experience this unique happening in the historic Basement stage of the Art Theater – Karolos Koun, along with a crowd immersed in the experiential reception of the “war fact”, deeply moved and “spell-bound from the play… their bodies motionless and their veins open from enjoyment” (Vitruvius). I reveled, with my eyes and ears, in a fulfilling, high-level artistic creation.
Aisxylia Festival, August 2016
Creative & Cast
CREATIVE: Text-Dramaturgy: John Lignadis, Direction: Dimitiris Lignadis – Yiannis Panagopoulos, Stage Coach-Movement: Elena Kamilari, Historical Consultants: Prof. Adele C. Scafuro & Prof. Bella Vivante & Dr. Andronike Makres, Artistic Consultant: Rhea Scourtas, Costume & Set Design: Dimos Klimenof, Lighting Design: Evina Vassilakopoulou, Video Installation: Loukas Ziaras & Christos Kalaitzoglou, Music Supervisor: Mikes Glykas, Sound: Kariotis Audio, Performance Recording: Nikos Leros (Directing), Stelios Dagkas & Kostas Toudas (Cinematography), Irene Hatzi (Video Editing), Still Photography: Theo Veronikis, Publicist: Aris Asproulis, Production Management: George Tziampiris.
CAST: Eylem Abalioglu, Stelios Anastasiadis, Mario Banushi, Alkistis Christopoulou, Eleanna Finokalioti, James Geach, Michelle Gong, Panagiotis Gourgoulios, Maria Goutra, Natalie Kane, Konstantinos Dimitrakakis, Panagos Ioakeim, Sifis Miliarakis, Jason Nikiteas, Ayesha Nishtar, Nikos-Ephraim Samouridis, Alexis Sarigian, Ilektra Sarri, Anthi Savvaki, Nikos Sigalas, John Simos, Ufuk Soyöz, Stylianos Vassilas, Gabrielle Videla, Katerina Zafeiropoulou.
During the performance absolute silence reigned, interrupted only by the sobbing of the audience. The applause at the end was prolonged and thunderous. The creative and cast accepted the congratulations of audience members, who called for the repeat of the performance, at the earliest, this time in Athens.
Osmosis is a video installation which brings to life Pericles’ emotional final speech delivered in 430 BCE to the Athenians, presented by Thucydides (Thuc. 2.60-64). Osmosis functions as the prelude to performances of the play “War, Teacher of Violence”. It is meant to highlight certain elements of this monumental oration, such as the virtues of Pericles’ character but also his bitterness towards the ingratitude demonstrated by his fellow citizens.
Osmosis was created by the Dramaticus Institute for Classical Drama as part of an educational project. Its objective is to bring to life the great public speeches of antiquity and demonstrate their relevance and importance. Osmosis combines the disciplines of History, Philology, Archaeology, Drama and Technology to produce a compelling outcome, which is current, potent and attractive.
For enquiries concerning performances of the play “War, Teacher of Violence” and the educational program “Thucydides Dramaticus: The Theater of War”, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at +30-210-34.28.596.