Producer/Director Loizides Bows Off-Broadway With ‘Iphigenia’
Producer/Director Loizides Bows Off-Broadway With ‘Iphigenia’
By Bob Nicolaides, e-mail: email@example.com
It has been said-and repeated time and again by many of his fans that he has brought Hellenic Tragedy to the neighborhoods of the world. He, is director Leonidas Loizides , a native of Cyprus, whom I positively expect that he follows in the footsteps of another Greek Cypriot, Mike Cacoyiannis, and who undoubtedly, has spread this element of Greek culture to stages no other director has brought before!
I have followed his performances in Philadelphia and other nearby cities, and now in New York City, and I’vejust become privy of information that in a month or so, through the awardwinning producer/director, tragedian Euripides’ masterpiece, Iphigenia in Tauris, will be on Broadway itself!
If some of you got the impression from the above that Leonidas’ (Photo-director: Leonidas Loizides)work is concentrated around metropolitan areas such as New York, please forgive me for conveying the wrong message to you. Because, works the likes of Trojan Women and Oresteia having been presented by him across the United States, have also been offered in Paris, Toulon and Cannes, among other cities around the world. For sure, Iphigenia has also been shown not long ago in Portland, in the northwestern state of Oregon. As one can assume, these arefar from the only locations where Leonidas has chosen to project and promote the culture which is the world’s heritage.
For the uninitiated, tragedies written 25 millennia ago were performed in semi-circular open air theaters, where the circular stage completed the roundness of the structure, to use the word loosely, for some of them were actually craved out of the rock of a hill.
As recently as the Sixties, such a structure-in a much smaller scale-was built indoors by a man named Gottfried, a partner of Aris San at his Sirocco club at Sheridan Square, andwhere George Arkas directed one single tragedy, a modern adaptation of
Elektra which proved the director’s swan song. The theater unfortunately was demolished soon thereafter and gave way to a Chinese restaurant.
This performance, produced and directed by Loizidis is an adaptation to the English by Louis Markos, PhD, an authority on ancient Greece who teaches British Romantic and Victorian Poetry & Prose, Classics and Film at Houston Baptist University.
This and the pledge in the program by the award-winning producer/director in a program preface is enough to convince the audience of the quality they are to expect from the show.
“I will present Iphigenia en Tavris by Evripidis,” he writes in the playbill as if he were saying in his native tongue, Greek, in the footprints of the primeval forms.I aspire a result that will elevate the thoughts and sentimental richness of Euripidian poetry.”
Loizides does keep his promise. Iphigenia , (If-e-ghen-ea) as the cast call her,adhering to the true pronunciation of her Hellenic name, portrayed by Eftychia Papadopoulou (Photo: Eftychia Papadopoulou, in the role of Iphigenia), is indignant and deeply hurt as she feels betrayed that he opted to sacrifice her just for favorable wind so the Greeks set sail for Troy.
Subsequently, she’s crushed on the news of his death. She’s torn between her thirsting for Greek blood spilled one moment, while the next she longs for her homeland she’s missed so much. Never though does she lose sense of her stature through it all. Ms Papadopoulou’s portrayal of Iphigenia’s circumstances is flawless, even considering that she, the wife of the director is with child, in fact at the progressed stage of the second trimester.
On the other hand, with the gods seemingly having abandoned him, Iphigenia’s brother Orestes, (Francesco Andolfi) feels dejected and reacts violently, all the time quivering from what appears to be paralytic trembling, not to overlook what I perceived as the blank stare of a blind man.
Then again, Orestes is demonized by his past, having killed his mother in revenge for her killing his father, Agamemnon. In contrast, his royal buddy Pilades (Daniel Rodas,) is more sedate, but not for long, for he too feels the need to explode as guards of the local King are trying to subdue him. Some say that the twosome knows no restraint, but my observation is that it is the nature of the tragedy.
The oddity here is that, according to Euripides’ interpretation of the plot as it unfolds, Iphigenia has never been harmed, for Artemis who requested the sacrifice, replaced her on the sacrificial altar with a deer, and dispatched her to Tauris. Orestes advent to Tauris however has different implications, since, still demonized by the guilt of his mother’s murder and with goddess Athena having absolved him, ventures to that strange land with Pilades in search of Artemis’ statue located in her temple, to steal since Apollo has assured him that by doing that he will eliminate the demons who hound him.
So neither Orestes nor Iphigenia anticipated finding each other in Tauris, but as they do, they provoke the wrath of the King, who decides to execute them. Without the aid of the wooden god savior lowered in the center of the stage by a system of winch and pulleys, the real goddess of wisdom, Athena (Alesandra Nahodil) appears herself and makes it possible for the threesome to outwit the Tauris ruler and set sail for Greece. (Photo: Alesandra Nahodil portraying Athena).
Born in Cyprus, the producer/director has been rewarded with a citation from the US Congress for his directorial skills in the theater and cinematic fields. After completing his studies abroad, he returned to Athens where he tried his luck as an actor. He however opted to pursue a directorial career in both the theater and motion pictures, which he did in Greece with great success in a wide range of projects, from tragedy to comedy, eventually expanding his horizons internationally. But his dream lay in educating, he calls it ‘Engrafting’ the world into the culture associated only with Greece, an aspect of which is to present ancient works through the stage across the world. He appears to have been successful so far.