DIDASKALIA

European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama
Part 1 : Background and Activities

by Platon Mavromoustakos,
European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama,
University of Athens, Greece

The European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama is a network of European institutions of higher education, brought together to develop an international multimedia archive of cultural material related to Ancient Greek Drama.Through the research and documentation of the subject, the researchers of the Network are aiming to revitalize the curricula of these disciplines through the development of joint programs and the introduction of specialized courses that will combine the most significant and imaginative elements of each perspective.

The Network aims to establish an expansion and a re-orientation of the academic community as well as to improve the traditional methods of teaching ancient drama, by creating new activities of an interdisciplinary and comparative nature. The main goal is to promote and carry out scholarly work, by initiating and coordinating comparative analyses, concerning the role and function of ancient drama and theatre in Europe. By analyzing the artistic forms and moral views expressed in editions as well as in public performances of ancient drama and its adaptations, recreations and new versions, the scholars and students in the Network will be able to trace, not only the importance of common heritage in the shaping of a European identity, but also the differences between local (national or other geographic cultural areas) cultural identities.

From its original inception to the present day, the Network has developed a series of activities, which have aimed to establish a flow of communication among different academic disciplines and interrelated subjects and to design a common plateau in order not only to allow the equal involvement of all members but also to ensure the scientific quality of the ongoing research to the best possible degree. This endeavour has produced a significant number of positive results and has laid the foundation for extensive further development.The completion of a mutually devised work-plan and the clarification of the goals of the Network, in addition to the creation of a cordial environment and the decision to expand our activities in order to make them accessible to a wider-public, constitute some examples of the above.

Activities of the Network

Conferences

The first international conference on European Performances of Ancient Greek Drama took place in Corfu in April 1997, during the course of the first annual meeting of the members of the Network. The conference took place thanks to the kind support of the University of Athens, the Ionian University, the Municipality of Corfu, the Permanence Helleniste Ionienne, and the Kostopoulos Foundation.

In November 2001, a one-day conference 'Performances of Ancient Greek Drama: Greek and German Approaches,' took place in Berlin with the financial support of the National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI). The conference was organised by the Greek and German partners of the Network and the speakers included: Professor Spyros A. Evangelatos, Professor Dr Erika Fischer-Lichte, Professor Dr Theo Girshausen, Dr Ulf Heüner, Mrs Mary Iliadi, Professor Platon Mavromoustakos, Professor Walter Puchner, and Professor Dr Bernd Seidensticker.

Annual meetings of the members of the Network

Seven annual meetings of the members of the Network have taken place to date, in Corfu (1997), Athens (1998-1999), Venice (2000), Oxford (2001), Athens (2002) and Prague (2003). The purpose of these meetings has been to establish the main goals of the Network and to organise future projects. In the course of these meetings members evaluate the past activities of the Network and plan the activities for the next year. Discussions focus on subjects related to the performances of Ancient Greek Drama, such as methodological problems concerning the research and the documentation of the information gathered. Furthermore, through these annual meetings, the members have established the form of the database, which has just come out of its pilot phase to acquire its final form.

Annual meetings of the Coordinating Committee of the Network

The coordinating committee of the Network was established in 1999 and consists of representatives from the National and Capodistrian University of Athens (Professor Platon Mavromoustakos), the University of Oxford (Professor Oliver Taplin), the University of Utrecht (Professor Dr. Henri Schoenmakers), the University of Coimbra (Professor Maria de Fátima Silva) and the University of Prague (Professor Eva Stéhliková). To date, seven meetings of the members of the Network have taken place at Coimbra, Prague and Athens in order to identify and address certain details pertaining to the academic and organisational curriculum of the Network. The coordinating committee has also held management meetings in Prague (2000) Coimbra (2001), Athens (2002), Coimbra (2003 & 2004).

Network Database - Internet

As a first necessary step for supporting comparative analyses in the future, the members of the Network have been building the Network Database in cooperation with InfoControl BIS Consultants Ltd. Each database archive contains relevant information about a specific performance, such as its contributors, its reviews, all accompanying multimedia material as well as a complete list of bibliography. Each member of the Network is responsible for collecting all information in relation to performances that have taken place in their respective countries while the Greek team has the responsibility of compiling this information into a common archive in the form of an electronic database. Every year, material on six or seven plays is submitted for the database; to date, more than 1,700 performances of Ancient Greek drama have been recorded.

Summer Courses

Since July 2002, as a part of the educational character of the Network, a series of summer courses have been organised in Epidavros with great success. The courses last for 15 days and are related to the performances which take place at Epidavros during that time. Through these courses, students—both Greek and foreign—have a chance to attend lectures presented by scholars of various European Universities, to attend rehearsals and performances of Ancient Greek Drama at the Ancient Theatre of Epidavros and to come in contact with people related to the actual performances, such as directors, actors etc. In addition, these courses offer a unique opportunity for the constructive exchange of academic perspectives by establishing a direct dialogue with the creators of the performances and by successfully combining theoretical approach with actual theatrical practice.

The Summer courses usually retain some basic principles and elements from the previous year, while other elements are introduced in relation to the plays that are performed at Epidavros during that season. In 2002, the courses coincided with the Theban Cycle, with four Greek and foreign performances: Bachae, Oedipus King, Seven Against Thebes, Antigone produced by the Dusseldorf Staatheater and directed by Theodore Terzopoulos, Tadashi Suzuki, Valery Fokin, Anna Badora. Thus, the courses of the first year would focus on specific themes of the Theban Cycle, with particual emphasis on the afore-mentioned performances. In 2003, the courses were based on two Greek performances: Euripides' Electra Directed by Themis Moumoulides and Aristophanes' Thesmoforiazousae directed by Costas Tsianos; in 2004, they coincided with the performances Fifty years of Aristophanes by the Karolos Koun Art Theatre and Bachae directed by Luca Ronconi.

Publications

The proceedings of the conference of Corfu (1997) were published under the title Productions of Ancient Greek Drama in Europe during Modern Times (Editor: Platon Mavromoustakos, texts in Greek, English and French with summaries in English, Kastaniotis Editions), with the financial support of the Greek Ministry of Education, the University of Athens, and Kastaniotis Editions. The publication of this volume is considered to be the first step towards the production of new educational material on Ancient Greek Drama, as well as a means of exchanging information between the participating countries. It is also considered as a first attempt to publicise the activity of the Network.

Parodos

Since September 2001, five volumes of Parodos, the eight-page Network Newsletter which is published every six months, have been in circulation. This newsletter presents the activity of the Network and its partners, as well as articles related to European performances of Ancient Greek drama. Furthermore, it includes articles on the research of the Network partners and presentations of historical performances. Parodos is distributed over a wide network of Universities and research institutes throughout the world.

Film Festival

In 2003, in collaboration with the National Greek Film Centre the Network organised the festival Cinemythology with films related to Ancient Greek Drama, its performances and adaptations. A catalogue with articles on the films included in the festival has been published in Greek, English, German and Spanish.

Oresteia Exhibition

For 2006, the Network is organising an exhibition on the Oresteia in co-operation with the Benaki Museum, Athens. The material presented will include costumes, masks, documents etc from European productions of the trilogy by Aeschylos. The exhibition catalogue will also include a full list of performances related to the Atreides.

Platon Mavromoustakos
European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama, University of Athens, Greece

Platon Mavromoustakos is Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Athens. Further information regarding the activities of the European Network of Research and Documentation of Performances of Ancient Greek Drama can be found on in the Network Website