April has come and here we are on the next stage of our journey. We are travelling to Greece, where Western theatre was born more than two thousand years ago, to present our devised work on the Greek tragedy Prometheus Bound at the International Youth Festival of Ancient Drama in Ancient Messene.
A week before, we were devising our performance in a lower ground floor studio in grey and cold London. But now we were in Greece. Clear, deep blue skies welcomed us, and the wild mountain of Taygetus and the town of Kalamata greeted us through the plane window. As we stepped off the plane, the sun was rising over the mountains and shining on our travel-worn faces, while the blossoming spring surrounded us and provoked our senses.
We arrived to be welcomed by cheerful Greek people (perhaps descendants of Xenios Zeus!), who immediately reminded us of the essence of Greek hospitality. They taxied us in their cars from the airport to our hotel in Messini. The first treat given to us was a bag full of Greek products: honey, olive oil and traditional pastries. After strolling around the quiet narrow streets of new Messini, we went into a small Greek tavern for our lunch. Traditional Greek food and salads were served along with local wine and tasty starters. We were so grateful for such a treat. Words can't do it justice.
Day 2We woke up early in the morning since we have planned to visit the ruins of ancient Messene and watch a show in the theatre, which would host us the following day. After having a full Greek breakfast with eggs, yoghurt and honey, fruit juices and traditional Greek coffee, we were ready and energised for the day to come. Our travel through the Greek countryside and over a mountain towards the ruins was a momentous experience: small villages and tiny traditional houses made of stone popped out of the green and rocky scenery making us feel part of a fairytale, while astonishing nature was blossoming around us. The ancient city of Messene, which has been revealed over 25 years of archaeological endeavour, is spread out on a big valley and the ruins of ancient temples, healing precincts, meat markets, baths and stadium reveal their marble bodies through mother earth. We watched Euripides's Alcestis performed by a local youth company and then got the opportunity to rehearse in the ancient theatre for the very first time. Grey clouds surrounded the theatre, reminding us of the thunders and storms sent by Zeus in the Prometheus Bound tragedy. Yet we enjoyed our rehearsal, revealing ourselves and our voices, which echoed for the very first time in a Greek ancient theatre, perfectly built to support sound and the voices of the actors.
Back to the hotel, we had our Greek dinner and a radio run of the show. An early night was needed, since our first performance was due at 9.30am the following morning.
Read Part 2 of the Messene 2017 blog here.