National Theater to perform Aristophanes at lesser-known ancient theaters over the summer

A new program to introduce the public to lesser-known ancient theaters in Greece through Aristophanes’ comedy was initiated by the Diazoma association and the National Theater, in collaboration with the Culture Ministry, which is funding it with a 100,000-euro grant.

The general schedule of the program running from July to September was presented at a press conference at the National Archaeological Museum on Wednesday. Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, National Theater Art Director Yiannis Moschos, and Diazoma President Stavros Benos also addressed the presentation.

Earlier, on Tuesday, the Central Archaeological Council (KAS) had provided unanimous approval of the venues requested – 17 in total – for performances of Aristophanes’ “Plutus”, on condition that there be no fees or tickets for the performances, other than admission to archaeological sites where the venues are located.

At the press conference, exact dates of performances were not availabe, but the sites were named. There are 15 ancient theaters, one Ecclesiasterion (Odeion) in Messene, and one ancient site (Eleusis). The theaters in particular are as follows, with their general location in parentheses:

The Ancient Theaters of Kabeirion (Thebes), Dimitrias (Volos), Maroneia (Evros), Mieza (Naoussa) Gitana (Filiates), Cassope (Preveza), Amvracia (Arta), Pleurona (Missolonghi), Aigeira, Gythio, Arcadian Orchomenos, Eretria (Evia), Orchomenos (Boeotia), Zea (Piraeus), and Thoricus (Lavrion).

Public theater

“Our inventory of monuments is neither static nor simply a part of a tourism product,” Mendoni said. “A cultural inventory is something very important because of the values it carries, and that is why it should be incorporated into citizens’ daily lives.” The minister added that “since 2019, our basic policy is to open archaeological sites and monuments to modern artistic actions. This is because cultural heritage is a timeless source of energy for modern creativity, while managers of cultural heritage can also better understand and interpret the cultural inventory – a monument – through the eyes of a modern creator.”

National Theater’s Moschos said the institution will “find itself for the first time in its history in new lands, while local communities will come into contact with the activity of the National Theater.” The members of the troupe that will perform Aristophanes’ company “belong to the younger generation of the National Theater, in order to provide an opportunity to new artists to try their hand at ancient drama, but also because it is important to see Aristophanes through the eyes of a younger generation.”

Founder of Diazoma and former culture minister Stavros Benos called the program “a triumph of synergies” and said that in its 15-year existence, Diazoma selected 50 ancient theaters to highlight and to study them “in order to unlock European (funding) programs” for their preservation. The maturity of each project “occurred in record time” and the funding was abundant, he added.

The free passes for the performances – except when a site requires paid entrance – will be handed out two hours before each performance. Details will be published online at the National Theater’s site,