Elli Papakonstantinou makes the myth of Dionysos her own, giving us a queer version of the play where the question of gender is synonymous with freedom. Euripides’ tragedy The Bacchae is more relevant than ever in this hybrid piece combining theatre, dance, new media, original music and live visual effects. An exciting new immersive experience by one of the leading artists on the international scene.
The piece begins in a politically correct world with suffocating gender labels under the banner of freedom of expression. A meteor called Dionysus is expected to collide and destroy the earth, but when Dionysus arrives, he instead calls for the fulfillment of everyone’s deepest desires…
For the creators of The Bacchae, the idea of queer is more than a set of personal preferences. It is an opportunity to look at the world in a new way. Papakonstantinou delves into the famous Greek tragedy about Dionysus (God of wine and pleasure) and uses it to cross all kinds of borders. Text-based theatre segues into musical theatre, opera and dance as a result of her working with (opera) singers, including composer and performer Ariah Lester, while an interactive sound design brings on stage a seismograph that registers the earth’s and dancers’ vibrations and transforms the stage into a musical instrument: it is the pulse of the cosmos.
As a director, I follow the flows of text, live music, video art and dance insearch of a new performative language. This piece lies at the intersection of these flows: queer is a new aesthetic; here I embrace pop, kitsch and high art celebrating diversity: I wish that my audience moves from the mind to the senses and is moved by the perplexity and ambiguity of desire and sexuality. As sexuality and desire cannot be programmed or corrected, in my piece class struggle, politics and aesthetic folly merge into a vortex: Dionysiac life itself.
Concept / Art Direction: Elli Papakonstantinou
Text: Elli Papakonstantinou, Chloe Tzia Kolyri, Kakia Goudeli
Choreography: SINE QUA NON ART – Christophe Béranger & Jonathan Pranlas Descours
Original Songs & Music Composition: Ariah Lester
Electroacoustic Compositions / Interactive Sound Design Istallation: Lambros Pigounis
Set Design: Maria Panourgia
Video Art / Live Video Design: Pantelis Makkas
Costume Design: Ioanna Tsami
Light Design: Marietta Pavlaki
Stage Vibration Sensor & Seismograph design: Giannis Kranidiotis
Assistant to the Director A: Spiros Sourvinos
Reaserch Consultant: Louisa Arkoumanea
Collaboration on Dramaturgy: Ariah Lester, Haris Kalaitzidis
Photography: Alex Kat
Trailer: Sideris Nanoudis
Technical Coordination: Lambros Pigounis
Tour & Development Managment: Laurent Langlois
ODC Office Direction: Gina Zorba
Assistant to the Director B: Christianna Toka, Katerina Savvoglou
Assistant to the Director C: Katerina Hristaki
Assistant to the Set Designer: Sofia Theodoraki
Assistant to the Video Artist: Anthi Paraskeva-Veloudogianni
Performers: Ariah Lester, Georgios Iatrou, Hara Kotsali, Lito Messini, Vasilis Boutsikos, Aris Papadopoulos
PREMIERE 2023 at La Filature, Scene Nationale Mulhouse, Festival Vagamondes (FR) 17 + 18.03. 2023
Holland Festival (NL) 10-11.06.23
Festival de Marseille (FR) 21-22.06.23
Athens Epidaurus Festival (GR) 4-6.07.23
Romaeuropa Festival (IT) 30.09 + 01.10. 2023
Espace des Arts, Scene Nationale Chalon-Sur-Saone (FR) 12-13.10.2023
Teatro Nazionale di Genova (IT) 10-11.11.2023
Produced by ODC Ensemble
Co- produced by La Filature, Scene Nationale de Mulhouse (FR), Holland Festival (NL), Festival de Marseille (FR), Athens Epidaurus Festival (GR), Romaeuropa Festival (IT), La Strada Festival (AT), Teatro Nazionale di Genova (IT)
Residency Espace des Arts, Scene Nationale Chalon-Sur-Saone (FR)
With the Support of
the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports
A performative and explosive, mixture of genres
Elli Papakonstantinou has created a contemporary adaptation, which is a theatrical vortex, a performative and explosive, mixture of genres such as theater, opera, and Queer culture (…) With her impactful staging this piece offers a powerful and exciting experience.
Federic Bonfils | FOUD’ART (FR)
The show pulses and goes in all directions with such a festive spirit
For Papakonstantinou, Euripides' play provides the frame for a proposal to a joyful apocalypse. The show pulses and goes in all directions with such a festive spirit (…) a bewilderment at the breach of theatrical follie, a baroque Orlando furioso (...) Passion explodes through the skin, the bodies, the pores, the emotions in disruption with the dominant culture, definitely the patriarchal culture.
Luc Maechel | RACINE NOMADES (FR)
The undeniable talent of the artists
The music, rock/contemporary, functions like a haunting rumor that splits from operatic flights to pop songs appropriating the too much aspect of the gender. (…) A certainty: the undeniable talent of the artists on stage, singers, performers that carry with their luminous and fully embodied presence, this theatrical piece.
Frégaville-Gratian d’Amore | L’ŒIL D’OLIVIER (FR)
A Nietzschean glimpse into the abyss
Set pieces swirl in all directions, clothing is largely removed, and in a succession of dance, music and visual effects we end up in an ecstatic, orgy-like flow (…) The performance lifts off the ground and turns into an ecstatic burst of energy that no longer speaks through the mind but acts directly on the senses. It is rousing, sexual but above all suggestive, also because the participants in this orgy rarely have contact with each other, but everyone copulates with an imaginary partner.
All genres have now been broken through: dance, theatre, literature, performance, film, pop, classical opera. But the languages also merge with each other. We hear Spanish, English, Greek, Italian, French… And it is no longer clear who is male, female or everything in between.
Christian Weijts | DE GROENE AMSTERDAMMER
A commanding performance
A commanding performance by Georgios Iatrou as a singing Tiresias in drag…
Laura Cappelle | THE NEW YORK TIMES (US)
A queer phantasmagoria of lost desire
A wondrous, polyphonic synthesis of cultures and eras, a ‘queer ethnic futurism’ (…) Enduring energy, complementary powers, masks, tongues, psychedelic projections, glittering fetishes, dissolving forms, life vibrating beyond divisions, flowing in and out of all unexpected encounters and developments, shocking the mind as well as the body, the mind within from the body, breaking the boundaries of standardized identities.
Louisa Arkoumanea | LIFO (GR)
A theater of change, of discovery, of insolence
Elli Papakonstantinou offers with this piece a theater of change, of discovery, of insolence. Its staging follows a relevant dramaturgical reading and serves a powerful philosophical statement in a radically theatrical manner. With desire as its cornerstone, this production of The Bacchae invites us to reflect on the limits of a society which boasts of having “no moral or technological restrictions”. She brilliantly raises ethical questions by playing with all the aesthetic tools that theater offers…
Camille Doucet | ZONE CRITIQUE (FR)
Beyond the boundaries of traditional
A stage that beats like a heart on fire…everything happens, without superstructures, without filters, in the full expression of desires. Physical and mental. (…) The show goes beyond the boundaries of traditional representation, bringing together theater and dance, opera singing and cinematographic perspective, all wrapped up in a very personal sound design. There is a fresh air of experimentation. Audience totally absorbed.
Claudio Riccardi | BANQUO MAGAZINE (IT)