In November 1944, an idiosyncratic Greek intellectual, Yiorgos V. Makris, published a manifesto calling for the blowing-up of the Parthenon as an act of resistance against the “suffocating” and sterile worship of antiquity. Taking its cue from Makris’ provocative manifesto (itself preceded by Marinetti’s 1909 Manifesto of Futurism, which advocated, inter alia, the demolition of museums and libraries), this lecture will focus on relatively recent iconoclastic productions of Greek drama in Greece as acts of aggression against images of classical antiquity as a sacrosanct relic. Among the productions surveyed, pride of place will be given to the causes célèbres of Matthias Langhoff’s Bacchae (1997) and Anatoly Vassiliev’s Medea (2008), both of which provoked violent reactions from the Greek public as a result of their perceived desecration of some of the towering monuments of Greek culture. The lecture will also discuss two more recent productions of Greek tragedy, namely Katerina Evangelatos’ Rhesus (2015) and Alcestis (2017). Without adopting Langhoff’s or Vassiliev’s violently deconstructive approaches, Evangelatos put forward ironical (even campy) readings, which can undermine received wisdom about the classical heritage, without necessarily becoming scandalous.
Vayos Liapis (Open University of Cyprus) is Professor of Theatre Studies at the Open University of Cyprus. He has taught at the Universities of Cyprus, Montreal, and Patras, and as Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. In 2014, he was Elizabeth and J. Richardson Dilworth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He has published on classical and post-classical Greek tragedy, Greek wisdom literature, textual criticism, Greek religion, and the reception of Greek tragedy. His latest book is A Commentary on the Rhesus Attributed to Euripides (Oxford, 2012). He is currently co-editing Greek Tragedy after the Fifth Century and Adapting Greek Tragedy, both for Cambridge University Press, and working on a new commentary on Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes for Oxford University Press.