National Theatre of Greece – Athens & Epidaurus Festival 2021, summer tour.
Of Aristophanes’ eleven extant comedies, The Knights is perhaps his most overtly political in terms of contemporary historical references and the general content of the comic myth, which focuses on the Athenian political scene. In it, the playwright puts populism and demagogy in the stocks, training his sights on his era’s most notorious exponent of those dark arts, Cleon. The politician, who rose to prominence after the death of Pericles and the decisive victory of the Athenians over the Spartans at the Battle of Pylos in 425 BCE, is presented as the new favourite servant of Demos – a personification of the Athenian system of government – under the name Paphlagonian.
Nobles or followers? Invaders or tourists? Victims or aggressors? The Knights are an enigma, but it is a play that is now more topical than ever, in this post-truth era of fake news and virtual reality.
It is a comedy that reaches beyond Aristophanes’ own time into a future only now taking shape. The backdrop to it is made up of a host of rabble-rousing politicians, a disoriented democracy, indifference to the well-being of the body politic, slander, poverty, a war that looks as if it will never end, and the fear of a new outbreak of an epidemic that has already left thousands dead.
With their warlike appearance, the Knights conspire with Aristophanes to topple those in power in a frightened and blighted city. In the battle between the two toxic politicians, the playwright presents humanity as a necessary element of power which is trampled beneath the extreme methods employed by his protagonists.
Translated by: Sotiris Kakisis
Directed and choreographed by: Konstantinos Rigos
Music: Ted Regklis
Set design: Konstantinos Rigos, Mary Tsagari
Costume design: Natasa Dimitriou
Lighting design: Christos Tziogas
Choreography collaborator: Markella Manoliadi
Assistant to the director: Angelos Panagopoulos
Musical coaching: Melina Paionidou
Second assistant to the director: Christina Stefanidi
Assistant to the set designer: Alegia Papageorgiou
Assistants to the costume designer: Alisa Boulat, Katerina Kostaki
Dramaturg: Eva Saraga
Konstantinos Avarikiotis (A Sausage Seller), Stelios Iakovidis (Demos), Kostas Koklas (Cleon), Panos Mouzourakis (Dimosthenes), Konstantinos Plemmenos (Nicias), Konstantinos Bibis(ukulele), Giannis Charisis, Stefania Goulioti, CParis Alexandropoulos, Vassilis Boutsikos (guitar), Thanos Grivas (guitar), Konstantinos Kaikis, Giannis Karampampas (guitar), Alkiviadis Maggonas (clarinet), Giorgos Paterakis (guitar), Konstantinos Plemmenos, Periklis Siountas (bayan), Giorgos Skarlatos (euphonium), Antonis Stamopoulos (guitar), Alexandros Vardaxoglou, Panos Zygouros (melodica)
Musician on stage: Laertis Malkotsis (saxophone)