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Aeschylus Persians by Dimitris Karatzas

The Persians Tragedy (472 B.C), is one of the most significant Aeschylus Anti – War work and one of the oldest tragedies that have survived throughout the years and are performed even today.

The Persians Tragedy, is all about the Persians catastrophic defeat in Salamis, from the Greeks, and the tragic consequences that they had to face, after they have lost their families and many of their friends, throughout the fight in the water and land.

The reason why this tragedy is so “huge”, is because it does not embrace the Great Win of the Greeks, neither embraces their army and ability to fight, even though Aeschylus himself was a Greek citizen of Athens.

The Athens that the Persians (Xerxes I), were so passionate to conquer!

The Athens, that was the cause for their tragic disaster!

The Athens, that taught us the audacity of arrogance and pride!

Aeschylus decided to see thinks from the point of view of Persians and focus on their losses and how they reacted to that. The tragedy is all about Persians, showing their unbridled anger towards their king Xerxes, who was so arrogant, that he believed, he and his army could “wipe out” the Greek soldiery. In the performance therefore, we do not see the Greeks at all. We only see the Persians and how they mourn for all of their losses.

We see Darius (the father of Xerxes) and former King of Persia, expressing his anger and disappointment for his son Xerxes and his arrogance that resulted in the disaster of the whole Persian Empire.

We see Atossa (the mother of Xerxes and wife of Darius), mourning for their tragic defeat, praying to the Gods, while expressing their anger towards Deus (God), who predicted their loss and did not provide them any relevant signs to prevent them from fighting.

Furthermore, we see Atossa desperately falling down and asking the Gods why they did not provide the Persians any sign to prevent their catastrophe, while she feels shame towards her son and his arrogance.

There is a scene, where Darius and Atossa discuss about the tragedy of their Empire and the immaturity of their son that took all the Persian army in his arms, while they sit in a bench that looks on the infinity, symbolizing the chaos that they are into.

This is when the humble and defeated Darius says the phrase:

- “When arrogance flourishes, it ripens, the ear of destruction...”

I noted it down in my notebook, while I was at the theater….It really fascinated me!

Furthermore, we see the Persian crowd, those who survived, surrounding Atossa, asking her for a reason: why they lost all of their friends and families, while she feels nothing else than shame and anger for her son’s doings…

Moreover, we also see the messenger, arriving from the field of the fight, to Persia, so as to inform Persians about their losses and about the result of the war. A huge, angry wave of Persian citizen surrounds the messenger, “shooting” him with questions about their friends and families who went to fight. We also see Atossa, shouting beyond the crowd’s collective voice, who is in need of answers of whether her son is still alive or not.

Last but not least, we recognise the shattered from the crowd Xerxes, coming into the scene where Atossa and the Persians are, to accept his defeat and apologize to his fellow citizens. Xerxes, in Dimitris Karatzas Directing Instructions, comes from the seats, where the audience is placed, and enters the scene, which gives the audience the idea that they are living the experience of Persian War.

When Xerxes enters the stage, the crowd, full of disgust, shame and hate for their King, begins surrounding Xerxes, “caging” him into a circle, with Xerxes’ voice getting more and more lost in the crowd. After a while, with a directing tip of Dimitris Karatzas, the crowd tramples the young King and kills him, while they lead their circle out of the scene.

Then, the lights go off, the crowd becomes actors and the audience starts bowing at the decent performance and the inspiring anti – war message that they gave us.

What impressed me enough was the multi color palette of actor clothes - especially those worn by the Persian crowd. I believe that the Costume Design Department has achieved to provide a modernized version of the historic tragedy of Aeschylus, without losing its uniqueness and authenticity.

The King family ( Xerxes & Atossa & Darius), worn light blue and black suits, while the crowd worn multi – color everyday clothes, sweatpants and t- shirts, that symbolized the multi – faceted identities of the Persian crowd.

The performance of D. Karatzas took place in “Παλαιό Ελαιουργείο Ελευσίνας”, “Θέατρο Αρχαίας Επιδαύρου” (Ancient Theater of Epidaurus) and “Ωδείο Ηρώδου Αττικού” (Herodes Atticus).

A Great Performance!

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