Greek tragedy takes to the streets of Ghent in contemporary retellings of 32 classics

In a unique initiative by NTGent, performers will take to the city's streets in 32 reimagined Greek tragedies. The All Greeks Festival does not promise literal performances but contemporary adaptations of classics. The eight-week open-air festival kicks off 1 May with a Parade of Fire and Abundance dedicated to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine-making, ecstasy and theatre. The festival announced its programme on Tuesday.

"Art first, work second. In that order of importance," the organisers said at the festival presentation on Tuesday. Based on the ancient Greek format, many performances will begin at sunrise, around 6:00 or 7:00, with a few programmed later in the morning. The events are free to the public, who are free to come and go as they please.

©Sarah Yu Zeebroek
©Sarah Yu Zeebroek

The re-tellings of classic Greek myths will be interwoven with contemporary experiences and input from residents in Ghent in collaboration with artists and institutions such as resident artist Milo Rau, Tiago Rodrigues, Olympique Dramatique and Toneelhuis, among others.

A fresh and timely take on Medea takes an in-depth look at the role of children in theatre in Medea's Children. In one of literature's most brutal stories of a mother who, in complete desperation, kills her children, Rau focuses on a children's point of view in the world. With themes ranging from family history, first love and death, "The children, condemned to silence in classical tragedies, finally get to speak this time."

An interpretation of Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris, which portrays themes of worshipping a "superior" Greece, will instead turn the focus to the future of Ghent's heritage. In Beyond the Worship, the director asks what the city wants to preserve to pass on to future generations and what impact the city's migration history and colonial past have.

Those interested have 32 sunrises to catch the varied interpretations of classics until 23 June.

#FlandersNewsService | Photo ©Valentine CHAPUIS / AFP

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