The relationship between the Culture Ministry’s archaeological authorities and the Hellenic Festival, the organizer of the drama and music productions at the ancient Herod Atticus and Epidaurus theaters, has always been difficult. But the problems just seem to be getting bigger.
The debt owed to the TAP archaeological fund for various productions staged at the Herod Atticus and Epidaurus has reached 1.5 million euros, and complaints have grown regarding the lack of respect shown to the ancient venues by both visitors and production teams.
For years now, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) has been discussing the negative impact of over 350,000 annual show-goers on the Herod Atticus.
Up until a few years ago, the number of shows hosted by the ancient venues was KAS’s main concern.
Now, the inappropriate behavior of attendants has become another major concern.
High-heeled shoes worn by some members of the audience and the unbelievably irreverent behavior of many who leave behind their chewing gum are a couple of KAS’s concerns regarding the public.
As for the production teams putting on shows at the ancient venues, KAS is not happy with their comportment either. Many of the stage sets, KAS contends, are incongruous with the ancient venues’ nature.
Also, despite repeated warnings, the stage sets seem to be getting bigger and the decibel levels louder. Authorities fear these higher volumes could be inflicting damage on the ancient structures.
KAS regulations specify that stage sets should not be heavy and the colors used must not be discordant with the venue. Also, sound levels are not permitted to exceed 100 decibels.
Highlighting the overall neglect of KAS standards and procedures, a National Opera application for permission to use the Herod Atticus made it to the archaeological authority just four days ahead of show time.
Relegating KAS’s approval to a matter of routine, many producers send in their applications very late, which goes to show how little they respect KAS’s concerns for the ancient venues.
And this lax attitude has only aggravated the problem. The stage setting for the National Opera’s production which will begin the proceedings at the Herod Atticus this summer was deemed as being incongruent with the venue. It covers two-thirds of the stage. Worse still, it has already been set up.
The bulk of Hellenic Festival performances at the Herod Atticus run until July 31.
The festival has also booked an additional four nights in September for Anatoly Vasiliev’s “Medea.” The ancient venue is given a respite in August.
As for the Little Epidaurus Theater, which has been used to host concerts since its relatively recent reintroduction, KAS authorities expressed reservations about also making that venue available for theatrical productions.
A small number of conditional approvals for plays at the small theater have been granted.