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History and Mythology > Gods of scandals August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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The ancient Greeks had a randy mythology filled with gods who were constantly engaged in one scandal or another.

Zeus was always frolicking around on Earth, knocking up young maidens. The other gods were always having some weird tiff between themselves, often resulting in bloody battles among their human pawns.

Centuries later, the pioneers of modern psychiatry determined that these gods represented aspects of the human psyche, and their exploits were merely unconscious conflicting impulses playing themselves out in story form. Here in the 21st century, science has reduced the world to a collection of physical processes, so we can no longer work out our own psychodramas by gossiping about the lives of ethereal beings that none of us have ever actually seen. Or can we?

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History and Mythology > Drama August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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Ancient Greeks used drama to stimulate public discussion about social and political problems that needed to be solved.

In contrast, modern world’s movies, theater and television productions seem to be more entertaining then didactic.

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History and Mythology > Love and Roses August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Culture History Mythology.
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The ancient Greeks had four words for love:

  • philia (brotherly love based on deep friendship),
  • storgi (love based on a familial connection),
  • agape (love steeped in principle) and
  • eros (physical love).

Roses have long been symbols of love and beauty. Egyptians, Greeks and Romans believed roses were sacred to their goddesses of love, Isis, Aphrodite and Venus.

In one story, Aphrodite’s son Eros gave one of the goddess of love’s roses to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to persuade him to keep his mother’s indiscretions a secret.

In Rome, and in the Middle Ages, a rose would be placed on or above the door of a room where confidential matters were discussed. The Latin phrase “sub rosa,” or “under the rose,” came to mean keeping a secret.

Oedipus deserves credit for originality August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Americas.
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Sophocles’ tragedies get a cheeky and interesting makeover by Nova Arts Project.

Not content with tackling all three of Sophocles’ Oedipus tragedies in a single “freely adapted” treatment, they’ve also given one, Oedipus at Colonus, an irreverent new title: The Gods Are Big Poop Heads. It’s the theatrical equivalent of standing in an electrical storm and daring lightning to strike.

Yet the fact that Oedipus Rex and Antigone retain their original titles evinces a certain inconsistency in Nova Arts’ Oedipus. Especially at the start, an antic air suggests the company intends to kid the material. Teasingly slangy, the dialogue abounds in anachronisms. The oracles and messengers are played in broadly comic style, like figures in a Monty Python skit. One bewilders Oedipus with a set of increasingly ridiculous demands culminating in “Now do the hokey-pokey and shake yourself about.”

Read the review at > Sophocles’ Oedipus gets a cheeky, interesting makeover

History repeated for Greece in Budapest August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Aquatics.
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Men’s 4x200m freestyle team, winner of country’s first swimming medal, a bronze at the Europeans in 2002, ends third again.

Greece’s 4×200-meter freestyle men’s team won the bronze medal at the European Swimming Championships in Budapest on Saturday, reviving memories of the national team’s first swimming medal at the Europeans just four years ago in the same event.

The swimming quartet of Andreas Zisimos, Giorgos Demetis, Dimitris Magganas and Nikos Xylouris repeated history in the 4×200-meter freestyle final with a time of 7:16.67 for third place.

Italy won the gold medal and set a new European record, 7:09.60, which undercut the continent’s previous best of 7:10.86. The British team won the silver in 7:11.63. The medal-winning performance from the Greek team brought it back into the spotlight following a series of near misses since that very first swimming medal for Greece, at the Europeans in Berlin in 2002.

Two years later, at the Europeans in Madrid, the Greek team ended fourth. It also qualified for the finals at the Athens Olympics and the previous Worlds. Highlighting Greece’s improvement in international swimming, the national team has won two silver medals and five bronze in Budapest.

Nery-Madey Niangkouara, one of Greece’s medal winners in Budapest with a bronze medal in the women’s 100-meter freestyle last week, failed to repeat the success in the 50-meter freestyle.

Niangkouara ended seventh in her semifinal with a time of 25.61 seconds. But the 23-year-old, who came to Budapest after considering retirement because of a seventh-place performance in the 100-meter freestyle at the previous Worlds in Montreal, seemed unperturbed by her failure to make the 50-meters final in Budapest.

The Greek swimmer said she entered this championship having set the objective of distinction in the 100-meter freestyle.

“I didn’t do too bad. From early morning, I wasn’t feeling very well for the sprint, so I didn’t expect anything crazy to happen,” said Niangkouara following her 50-meters freestyle semifinal on Saturday. Niangkouara completed her commitments in Budapest yesterday – on the closing day of swimming competition – with the 4×100-meter medley team, which narrowly missed making the final. The Greek team swam its semifinal in 4.11.71 to end 10th overall. Yiannis Drymonakos, the winner of one of Greece’s two silver medals at the Budapest competition in the men’s 200-meter butterfly, ended sixth in yesterday’s final of the 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:20.38. Teammate Vassilis Lemetis ended a place behind with 4:20.48.

On Saturday, newcomer Sotiris Pastras, 20, who arrived in Budapest as an unknown, almost emerged from the pool with a medal in the men’s 100-meter butterfly final. Pastras ended fourth to assert that his preceding efforts in the event’s heats and semifinal were no flukes. Defending champion Andriy Serdinov of Ukraine won the gold medal in 51.95 seconds. France’s Amaury Leveaux won silver in 52.76 and Russian Nikolay Skvortsov took bronze with 52.96 seconds, just ahead of Pastras, the Greek finalist, who registered 53.16 seconds.

Political play tours in Greece August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece.
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The Attiki Skini theater company is touring all the major festivals in Greece this summer with Aristophanes’ ancient comedy “The Frogs.” On Friday and Saturday, the production will go on stage at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.

“The Frogs,” seemingly a comedy about the ancient tragic poets, is in reality a political piece. The play was first staged at the ancient Linaia Festival in 405 BC, where it received first prize just a year before the end of the Peloponnesian War.

The comedy focuses on Euripides’ tragedies and compares them to the works of the other two great tragic poets (Aeschylus and Sophocles), but mostly those of Aeschylus.

When “The Frogs” was presented, Aeschylus had already been dead for about half a century. In people’s minds, he had become the poet-symbol of the generation that routed the Persians and created the Athenian empire.

On the other hand, Euripides was the poet of a controversial era. Aristophanes has set the struggle between Aeschylus and Euripides within the framework of a general contradiction between the bravery, virtue and security of traditional customs and the beliefs of the past against the uncertainty of the present.

The production, which uses a translation by Thanassis Bindas, was directed by Thanassis Theologis. It stars Anna Synodinou, Haris Romas, Ilias Logothetis and Gerasimos Skiadaressis and also features actors Vassilis Kolovos, Spyros Sarafianos and Michalis Theodorou.

The sets and costumes are by Maria Kleves-Chryssikou.

After the Epidaurus performances, “The Frogs” will travel to Rafina on Sunday, then to Avlida near Halkida on August 16, to Karditsa on the 17th, to Delphi on the 18th and to Thessaloniki’s Dassos Theater on the 19th, before continuing on to Crete.

Landmark movie theater to reopen soon August 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Greece, Stage & Theater.
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Landmark movie theater to reopen with a new identity
Renovated Pallas in Athens will host music, dance and opera in fall

The Pallas theater boasts a discreet glass entrance on Voukourestiou Street. The Pallas will now mostly host music and dance shows as well as opera productions instead of serving as the stage for classical music concerts, as it did in the past.

The old Pallas movie theater will reopen its doors to the public with the first post-Olympic production of Dimitris Papaioannou, concept creator of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Over the past two years, the Pallas has been completely remodeled. The stakes were high from the beginning, when Piraeus Bank leased the entire Army Pension Fund Building, with very specific things in mind for the historical Voukourestiou Street building, which was falling into disrepair. The architectural firm led by Yiannis Kizis took on the project.

The revamped stage has become deeper, restored to its 1950s size, because additions made over the past decades had reduced the stage area. The roof was also raised, an important development because the theater is now able to host opera productions. The box office will retain its trademark wooden and metal decor and the fake ceiling its art deco style. The seats, reduced from 2,000 to 1,500, will be brand-new and will be in tune with the decorative motif. The foyer, which had been taken over by the Orvo Theater, will be restored and a glass entrance will be made on Voukourestiou Street. The theater will be accessible to people with disabilities, as a special elevator is being constructed in the Spyromiliou arcade.

The Pallas will also be able to host conferences like the former Aliki Theater on Amerikis Street and will house offices for interpreters as well as conference halls. Designers say the building can easily be changed to accommodate both theater productions and conference space. Initially no provision had been made to use the two theaters for conferences, but as work progressed and the cost became higher, Piraeus Bank reconsidered.

The acoustics at the Pallas have also been improved and the theater sound-proofed to keep out noise from traffic or the Aliki Theater, which is located right below the Pallas. The new venue will more often be used for music, dance and opera productions instead of classical music concerts.

Building on a storied past > The Pallas is part of the Army Pension Fund Building, which was constructed where the former royal stables used to be in order to house state services. An architectural tender was launched in 1925, which was won by architects Vassilis Kassandras and Leonidas Bonis, who were also responsible for the Rex Theater on Panepistimiou Street.

Construction on the complex, which consists of nine buildings, started in 1928 and was completed in 1940 in three separate building phases. The Stadiou facade came first, then the Pallas on Voukourestiou and finally the Panepistimiou side. The two architects were inspired by similar halls in Western and Central Europe while, according to Athens University professor and researcher Eleni Emmanouil-Fessa in her book «The Architecture of Modern Greek Theater, 1720-1940,» the Pallas movie hall and theater resembles similar venues in Paris, such as the famous Theatre Pigalle (1929) and the lesser-known movie theater Pathe Marignan (1932), now known as Gaumont Marignan. The Pallas had already fallen into disrepair by the early 1970s, when it stopped screening first-release films. After that, it occasionally hosted classical music concerts (as an unofficial home of the Athens State Orchestra) and film tributes or festivals.