Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Why to the Modern Man

by Eftychia Loizides, Director-Actress

A question asked by a spectator at the end of the performance of “Iphigenia in Tauris” comes to mind. The question was about the extent of Greece’s responsibility for the fact that people’s pensions cannot be paid. I don’t remember what my exact answer was, but I remember the feeling that this question gave me. Actually, Greece is the black sheep. I can however give a lucid answer. Since 2002 (it’s ten years now), we joined a united Europe for a better future. This future did not only get better but we must reanalyze the word “Europe” (“Ευρώπη”, from the verb ρ=see). We slave 80 hours a day, some die of starvation, women cannot have children, and those who can, prefer to eradicate them ... Why? Because they are not able to raise them and, most of all, they are afraid for their own life. Are Greeks responsible for this? Of course not. A number of important factors, like financial interests, the game of power, have turned everyday life into a hostile environment. This phenomenon exists not only in Greece but in the whole world. The lofty vision of united Europe ... the Future, has been destroyed... Man on a national, social, personal level has been destroyed. How did we get into this Trojan war? Because this is what it’s all about.

Democracy and democratic values are the essence of Europe. Despite all that, democracy has become rigid and distorted. In this case, all we end up with is a figure, an illusion of democracy, while its real meaning is imprisoned. In a previous chapter we mentioned the problem that the heroes came across regarding Helen: if they really can see her or not. This situation can relate to Europe’s conditions nowadays:

1) The question of total trust (if not captivity) in things visible, material, ephemeral that our senses can see, embrace and savor.
2) The question of focusing on the present, here and now.
3) The mentality that considers opposition and competitive morality as the only means for success, thus leading to intense stress, depression and endless disputes and confrontations. These problems are affecting all members of European societies.

Note: I am not against the competitive spirit. I support fair play and competition. But not the kind that bows down before blind avarice and insatiable thirst for power and leads to the destruction of human life, driving people to a wild-goose chase for illusions of wealth and success (the ghost of Helen).
We must pursuit the rebuilding of a worthwhile life, with the right priorities and true values. We have reached a point of savage exploitation of the weak by the powerful. I fear that this frustration will evolve into an explosive rebellion due to injustice and inequality. We are responsible because we have loved hedonism. A tendency that plagued all of societies until the recent past (I use the past tense because we do not have the luxury to savor anymore). We have reached the point where a big percentage of young people are sinking into depressive situations. They don’t care about life that no longer has significant things to offer (see the increase of drug use, emigration, lack of interest for politics and society). However, we still live in an era governed by shallow and superficial forms of human relations. Relationship problems are so intense that people, especially the young, are reclusive and find refuge in total and silent isolation. How is that possible? Young people are the future. 

Although they were given great opportunities for education, free development and progress, the result is rather dramatic, as we see. One out of a thousand will succeed in making his dreams come true, while the other 999 will find that what they have dreamt of is gone and forgotten and not realized (the last phrase of Euripides in our play).

Also, another important question is that of similarity. The degradation of language is an important example of this problem. Since we perform in front of an American audience we must point out that contemporary Americans believe that they live in a developing and pluralistic country which evolves into a continuously larger differentiation. But, objectively, the meaning is the exact opposite, because pluralism lies behind the identical and shared expressions leading to the point of globalization.

In this play, written by Euripides approximately 2500 years ago, we follow our itinerary, where we come from. In times of chaos and confusion, we acquire a genuine relationship with the truth. And the most important: we are obliged to change our priorities, unless we want to continue living as members of humanity enslaved by machines, numbers and matter. Euripides, showing respect for man, human freedom and human rights, became a pioneer in the fight for a genuine and accomplished democracy. I believe in a future with positive development. The new generation is the future (now still a present). I am a part of this generation. Only that this privileged new generation should not forget Saint Paul’s “Epistle to Corinth”.

Finally, by presenting a play of this kind, I wish to remind America of the seed sown by Athens in 412 BC so that in 2012 AD American democracy comes to fruition.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

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For All Booking, Sponsorship, Program Ad Placement or Marketing Information for Helen of Troy please contact the Marketing Director with all queries: 

Nora Aislinn
euripidis.helen.of.troy@gmail.com
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Euripides Changes the Myth of Helen

EP: Euripides changes the myth of Helen and tells us something different from what we know. Why does he do that though, and how can this work nowadays? 

By hearing the name of Helen, the woman that left her husband, Menelaus, for the eyes of her younger beloved Paris comes in our mind. The one who sent a thousand Argitis boats for a war of revenge. He was the consul of all the sufferings that the Greeks and the Trojans had to pass through. Because of Helen, the Troy was ravaged. Euripides though tells us a different story.

Let's take the story he says from the very beginning. The three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite chose a mortal human, Paris, to judge their beauty. He gave the "award of beauty" to Aphrodite after she promised to him as a reward the most beautiful lady of all, Helen. We all know more or less how it all began. Fine up to here. Euripides now, says something completely new from what we know as the continuation of the story. He says that Hera wanted to revenge Paris, as she couldn't face the feeling of losing, since Paris didn't choose her.

Are you wondering in what way? She made an effigy of Helen of the same appearance as the real one, using mist and air. That's the ghost Paris took to Troy, thinking it was the real woman. Hera ordered Hermes to take the actual Helen to Egypt, with the promise that her husband, Menelaus, would return to take her back.

Now, he says, that several years have passed from when she was taken to Egypt, and she is still waiting with impatience for Menelaus to come, but he hasn't. But why with impatience? Because when she arrived to Egypt, the King Proteus was in charge. ( I specifically use -eus, instead of -eas seen in some translations of 'Helen of Euripides', because for me the etymology of the names used in the Homer's period and in the myths of some tragic poets is really important. I insist that in order to compose or build something, you first need to deconstruct it. Break it into pieces and create it all over again. Anyway, Proteus was the kind king who treated her with courtesy. When he was alive he did a fair allocation of work, and there was justice. He divided jobs to people according to their characteristics. Proteus died though, and he was replaced by his son Theoklimenos who was exactly the opposite of his father.

Here's what happens: He desires Helen, so he kills every single Greek that comes to take his 'beloved' Helen. In this work it's said that Helen "has rotted for about twenty years in this brutal land where everyone is a slave except for the one that wears the crown of the tyrant," meaning Theoklimenos. Therefore, it's obvious that this man becomes a tyrant and he dominates the crowds himself without a sign of justice.

Why does he hate Greeks that much to kill them? Because in that season for Greeks, everything was related to cooperation. For an effort to be accomplished, cooperation is required. The word itself does not relate to privacy but to 2 or more people, not a single one, and the Greeks hated those civilians, those who could quit from politics. For example when you did not vote it was bad for both the citizens and yourself. Civilian= the one who is enclosed into himself.

When now is parallel to today. We should not stick to the fact that the Greek was him and the Egyptian the other, but go to a new international and universal level instead that can take up to the whole world, regardless someone's race, color or nation. We see that the Greek enemy of the King is the one who will try to change the establishment - the system which the tyrant introduced. In which way? By taking back Helen, the King's fierce desire. In this way, when Menelaus take his legal wife back, he informs people about that misfortune of the king. This is because the King was trying to marry her in an illegal way, hiding the truth from public.

The truth is that Helen was innocent, and the two nations fought for a ghost, something fake, intangible and completely vain. It's understood that if Menelaus won and took Helen, the people would realize under which lie they used to live for so long. When we realize that we have been living with a lie, we can easily go insane and revolt for that crime. It is considered a crime, creating a ghost, an idea (specifically of the goddess Hera) and pushing thousands of millions of people fighting each other for that idea. Without revealing the truth, you left him fighting for ten whole years for that ghost and then several more (actually seven as teukros says in his work), being tortured and storm tossed, in order to return to his motherland. Just like nowadays.

They created to us an idea by encouraging in us vanity . In other words, they cultivated us with fake dreams making us hope for things like money, houses and cars. We fight for an aspiration, for a better tomorrow. We suddenly reach a moment where not only they take what we managed to obtain so hard, with so much work, but also take us to a stage where we become sick from this situation, and even worse die for it.

So, Menelaus was the one that would try to rebel as soon as he learn the truth. Rebel in greek means "επαναστατώ" in other words stand still once again. Attention. Helen informs him that it's impossible to fight with the authority, as it is obvious that we would have a dramatic result. Fighting alone against a whole system is totally insane and definitely requires a second thought, in which we should look for calmness. We say that we are about to try and built a plan which will help us not only to fulfill our aim but to manage to get out old and harmless as well. We therefore need teammates.

In this case, this teammate is Theoklimenos' sister, Theonoe, who would never accept that someone would ever kill her brother. They should then convince her, using arguments, that it's a matter of life and death in order to help them not to "extinguish" her brother but to save their lives by returning to their home country. Further more, they would save their country from this delinquency. How can the country and the people be "rescued" from this tyrant though? Surely, not from its extermination but rather from its correction. Democracy should come back with its substantial meaning. So, Theonoe will have to choose between her brother's debt and Menelaus and Helen's fair demand.

Ultimately, in terms of moral values she decides to defend the law. Our era is characterised by a crisis of values. People, mostly act based on their personal interest and profit. For this reason, Theonoe's choices deeply affect us while emphasise the concept of ideal behavior. Of what i believe , idols are those who struggled, those who fought for the positive evolution of humanity. Several people consciously denied goods and fought for world to be a better place. I believe we must view Theonoe not as a fancy person but rather as an essential one, at least that is what I did.

Deliberately, I leave people's imagination to be considered by examining not only history but also those around them who fought against goods but conquered the essentials; as they fought for people's union and not their split with their Jesus . Love unites all contradictions but it seems that in nowadays, the meaning of Jesus and the meaning of justice has been lost. That is why we see Maria Magdalen crying over His death but being with his resurrection. Given the speech of Saint Paul, the meaning of Jesus is resurrected as well. This is the meaning, that we ourselves have buried for years but will resurrect us in the end. Well in essence, the survival equals with coexistence. Euripides, uses a woman to give the definition of life; that is the coexistence within others.

Some of the Reasons We Chose This Play by Euripides


by Eftychia Loizides, Director- Actress

Menelaus appears on the stage, presenting the identity of his character. Who he is, where he comes from, what he did and what state-condition he is in. He has left his sailors in a cave with  Helen, whom he recovered from Troy. Actually, he has recovered a mannequin of the real Helen, that he thinks to be real. He has reached the palace to ask for food and clothing, the things he lost during the tempest he faced while trying to return to his homeland with his crew. This poorly dressed king asks for help and conjures "Xenios Zeus". The answer he received left him discouraged. The doorkeeper comes out of the palace and sends him away insulting him. However, he doesn't give up easily and tries to change her mind. The doorkeeper feels sorry for him and expresses her fear  by saying that "any Greek that sets foot here finds death! Theoclymenos hates all Greeks!" "Why?". cries Menelaus. "For the sake of Helen." We see Menelaus staggering and trying to understand who she is referring to. The answer he receives is "The daughter of Zeus that lived in Sparta." How is this possible? How can the world be turned upside down? Among the Gods, he says, there is only one name, that of Zeus.

Since we mentioned names, let us examine the etymology of the name "Ελένη" ("Helen") . It comes from the root " Ελ" of the verb "αρέω-" which means  to snatch, to conquer, to deceive, to capture, to destroy, denoting  a negative meaning. According to  another theory, the name comes from the word " σελήνη" ("moon"), thus making Helen a woman of light. Hesychius confirms the positive meaning of the name and mentions that it comes from the noun "ελάνη" which means torch. The ambiguity of this name is obvious.

So what is the truth? The meaning of Helen is positive or negative?

Anaxagoras, Euripides' teacher, teaches us that everything is perceptible through its opposite: "the principle of polarity." Everything is double, has two poles. Everything has its own pair of contrast. Everything is made of a (+) and a (-). Collision is a part of the unity and not a part of rupture as many people think. The same and the opposite are equal in their nature. They differ only in their rhythm.  All the true elements are found in the extremes. All the paradox elements can converse. Everything has two poles, two opinions, two opposites that are actually two faces of the same coin.

Helen, having heard by Theonoe the good news that her husband is alive, comes out of the palace and ... there! ... she sees him in front of her! But she cannot really see him, due to the fact that this man does not look like her husband Menelaus, the king of Sparta, being dressed in rags. She assumes he is a spy sent by Theoclymenos to capture her  and deliver her to his master. Menelaus, from his part, recognizes her face and staggers seeing the resemblance between this woman and his companion. He asks her who she is and Helen gives him all the convincing answers that prove her identity. However, this is not enough to convince him.

This character has reached the second stage of knowledge, which is faith. He is a man who does not surrender to his imagination. He thinks for a while, "Is this really the way things are? Or are they different?" He lets Helen give him the information. He begins to exert a moderate critical control: "Is this woman telling me the truth? Is she a phantom? What is happening?" He is not dogmatic as we saw before with Teucer. He tries to explain the events logically. However, although the truth was presented in front of him, he did not have the strength to face it and prefers walking away. How many times did man look at the truth in the face and could not stand it? Menelaus prefers the delusion. He prefers the woman in the cave, who is no other than the woman of shadows. He went through all of his misfortunes , he was able to leave the eidola and the shadows in the cave and reached  a place where he saw the real light: the Helen-Truth. And still he throws away this truth, because he is not satisfied with this turnout of events. He cannot accept the fact that he spent all these years fighting "... for an empty shirt, a Helen." He prefers, as it suits him, living in the dark. That's why people avoid lifting  the  cross of ignorance towards knowledge, considering it a weight of life. Trying to avoid the uphill road of transition to knowledge, they choose  security. their possessions. The do not have the courage to look at themselves in the mirror and they prefer standing in front of things and judging them from above, without implicating themselves in the situation. So, finally, Menelaus leaves Helen saying: "For seventeen years I've put up with sorrow and pain! And this pain is more real than you!"

He is about to leave when arrives the messenger-a faithful slave of Menelaus, who claims that the pain he had to suffer was in vain. His wife (the phantom that he left at the cave) disappeared. He saw her ascent to the sky. Before leaving she said some horrible things... "Poor Greeks and Trojans, you were killed for my sake! I'm a creature made of mist and air!" "Oh! Glorious day!", cries Menelaus. "This means that you told me the truth."

Next is the scene of recognition, where we see the meeting of Lights. Menelaus looks at the Truth. Then we can hear the messenger talking, imparting wisdom that we never expected coming from a man deprived of his freedom. He was marginalized, suppressed, exploited. However, he managed to do something that his master was not able to achieve. To preserve his qualities, reaching the point of having exquisite intellectual abilities. His devotion to his master is not a sign of servility but a choice of a free mind, a sign of nobility and character.

The most important is this: Helen of Troy left him, but his slave remains faithful to him. Menelaus fought for his "stolen Helen" but did not fight for his slave's freedom, that he himself stole from him!

In addition, in the play, the slave condemns divination. The oracles played a political role similar to the one played nowadays by television. Tele-vision is the price one pays to see the world. The globalization of vision is promoted, as it is known by colossal business firms that control governments, politics and strategies. The result? A lack of democracy. It leads to a very dangerous separation. It divides people into pessimistic and optimistic. The first category contains people who speak in a lamenting tongue about the evolution of mankind. They present man as being worse than an animal, a mixture of mud, brutality, despair and pain that has no meaning in life. They prophecy a catastrophic future.

The other category has a diametrically different view of things. Optimistic people extol the achievements of mankind and believe in a bright future. But they cultivate utopia. The answer to this separation is given by the messenger. He informs the spectators-readers that God's Word is the only solution for reaching the Truth. The slave, actually, frees the human mind from slavery, as far as people like Menelaus are concerned, who ignore God as God+Man.

We live in times of fear and oppressive space-time. Due to this fact, a great number of people turn to exotic religions and to  the quest for spiritual experiences. The only thing they accomplish is becoming victims of astrology and fortune tellers (the mass media lead us in this direction every day). However, in conclusion, we must understand that the "homo adorans", the functional  adoring man that Euripides really appreciated, is a reality that cannot be neither approached-nor, most importantly, described- by computers and polls that lately are out of control!

All this is taught by a "slave"!

Question: If You Were Asked to End the Play with a Line What Would it Be?


"What you've seen, you think it's true?"

Helen answers in her dialogue with Teucer. While trying to explain why I chose this title as the most important of all, I am given the opportunity to provide a comprehensible answer to the question examined by so many scholars: why did  Euripides use the character of Teucer in this play? Teucer arrives as a victor at his homeland of Salamis island (Greece) and is banished from his country by his father Telamon, due to the fact that he did not support his brother's Ajax's claim for Achilles' armor, he did not prevent him from committing  suicide and, even worse, he did not avenge his disgraceful death.
                  
According to the ancient Greeks, a killer was a defilement, meaning he polluted his family and his compatriots. His exile would help purifying the city. This penalty also helped rehabilitating the criminal, since, being in exile, he was deprived of his fortune and was not allowed to participate in any political activities.
                  
Teucer, although he did not  actually kill his brother, was considered by his father as an accomplish in the crime because he stood silent and did not try to prevent his brother from dying, nor didi he fight afterwards for his brother's honor. Teucer's actions gave Euripides the opportunity to sketch a character that would shed light on the weaknesses of some people.
                  
Teucer, although he is one of the victors of the Trojan War, does not feel happy and proud of this result. He was forced to fight for the sake of an unobtainable woman. He was exiled. He wanders for seven years searching for a new homeland. All these events denote the tragic traits of this character, the greatest factor being the fact that, upon reaching Egypt, Teucer cannot discern the real Helen.
                  
He believes that this woman only looks like her and is not the same person. So, this character has reached the stage of conjecture. This stage, according to the Pythagoreans and later Plato in the myth of the cave, is the first stage of Knowledge and represents the man who cannot tell the difference between shadows and reality. He thinks that Helen of Troy is the real one and not the woman he sees in front of him.
                  
He answers to Helen when she asks him if he saw the woman who caused all these horrible events:

Teucer: - With my own eyes I saw magnificent Menelaus drag her by her hair all              around the city.
                  And Helen asks him again: - Did you really see this?
Teu.:- Just like I see you now.
Hel.:- And what you've seen, you think it's true?
Teu.:- I saw her and so did my mind.
                  
So, he expresses the universality of his character, who actually lives trapped in the deception caused by his own illusions. This man trusts only his senses, the word "only" containing dogmatism and the word "sense" containing the present. So this man, who surrendered to his senses, lives only in the present and does not let himself take off his blinders and look clearly at the truth: the future. Because the senses do not link us to the future but to the present. I believe this is the stage we have reached nowadays.
                  
The political powers try to convince us that the path which leads to the deliverance of nations and people and, in consequence, to the rise of the economy is the path of stability, resulting in frugality and income cuts. However, the political powers will continue to follow the course they followed the previous years, which is the same course that led us to this point. Because they did not have the foresight to deal with their domestic affairs. They did not foresee finding ways of salvation for their people, giving them the opportunity to develop mentally, not by reducing their income but by creating opportunities for staff orientation. This means that we've been taught nothing from the pain of lifelong learning. We will continue borrowing money and when comes the time for paying back the loans, we will find  ourselves in front of "Calvary", because we did not foresee increasing our income. In result, what we need is not stability but a mental change so that we are able to take off our blinders and look clearly at the truth.
                  
On a smaller scale, we would say that this is also true regarding the common man. He should stop chasing "Helens" who are essentially vain and ephemeral and start fighting for Ideas (the noun comes from ἰδεν=seeing) which he will be able not only to look at but also to really see. We propose that people should know their past and learn from their mistakes, thus securing a future full of positive and not dramatic prospects.
                  
Returning to our play, we are left with an unanswered question. Why did Euripides, among so many Homeric heroes, choose a victor of this war and especially Teucer? Teucer explains to Helen the purpose of his journey: "I came at this palace in order to meet with  the prophetess Theonoe. In an oracle, I was commanded by Apollo to go to Cyprus, live there and found a city that I shall name Salamis." Salamis was the capital of Cyprus for a thousand years  due to its geographical position. Evagoras, the son of Nicocles, descending from Teucer, was almost murdered, still being a teenager, by the tyrant of Salamis Abdemon, who feared that Evagoras would overturn him. His worst fear came true. In 411 BC,  Evagoras  killed the tyrant and became the  ruler of Salamis. When he came in power, he tried to promote the spiritual and material welfare of his people, while staying on good terms with the neighboring states. Darius II did not react against Abdemon's murder, due to the fact  that Evagoras continued paying taxes!

Eftychia Loizides, actress-director.