Iphigenia at A... | Gardzienice online

Iphigenia at A..., on Euripides, "Iphigenia at Aulis", directed by Włodzimierz Staniewski, music: Zygmunt Konieczny
Starring: Mariusz Gołaj, Krzysztof Globisz (guest actor), Joanna Holcgreber, Karolina Cicha, Marcin Mrowca, Agnieszka Mendel, Anna Dąbrowska, Ben Hitchins, Alexia Kokkali, graduates of "Gardzienice" Academy for Theatre Practices, Greek actors participating in master class, inhibitants of Delphi and Parnassus in Greece and Włodzimierz Staniewski.

Film was shot in historical and mythological locations in Greece: Delphi, peaks of Parnassus, Corycian Cave, islands of the Corinthian Bay.
The screening is preceeded by the director's introduction by Włodzimierz Staniewski (here)

"IPHIGENIA at Aulis" in Polish - Saturday, 25.04 at 20.00 in PL ( 6.00 PM GMT )
"IPHIGENIA at Aulis" with English subtitles - Sunday, 26.04 at 20.00 in PL ( 6.00 PM GMT )

* We have obtained the broadcasting licence for the only 2 evenings from FINA (Poland's National Film Archive & Institute).

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7 to 14 JULY, 2008.

Last week, high on the slopes of Parnassos, a young woman darted out of the mouth of the Corycian Cave clutching a small goat against her bare breasts. The young woman was Iphigeneia, and the small goat was Rosa, recently rescued from a nearby farm.  In an uncanny fusion of myth and reality both had narrowly escaped death: the baby goat Rosa had been on the verge of being slaughtered just as Iphigeneia had been on the point of being sacrificed by her father to appease Artemis.

In Euripides’ drama , at the moment of death on the sacrificial altar, Artemis takes pity on Iphigeneia and a young animal dies in her stead. On a Greek sheep-farm, the  internationally acclaimed director, Wlodzimierz Staniewski, pleads for the condemned animal’s life, and both Rosa and Iphigeneia are spared.

Rosa, now a celebrity, is borne on the shoulders of a well-known Polish actor as ancient Greek sounds, mixed with melodious Polish syllables, bounce off the cracked rocks of Parnassos in front of the Corycian Cave—the locus of a ‘symposium’.  The symposium is only one of several events that were the culmination of many years’ work and the fulfillment of Staniewski’s inspiration to re-inhabit the sacred areas around Delphi and Parnassos and to release the ancient energies.          

The events from 7 to 14 July, were held under the auspices of the European Cultural Centre of Delphi’s “Culture and the Environment” programme directed by Maro Nikolopoulou.

The most substantial contribution was by Staniewski and Gardzienice. This consisted of master classes on the 7th and 8th July, an expedition punctuated by performances at selected ‘stations’ on the 9th July, a  performance of Staniewski’s adaptation of the Iphigeneia at Aulis at the Frynihos Amphitheatre on July 11th and a Round Table discussion chaired by Professor David Wiles on the expedition at the Delphi Cultural Centre, on July 12th.  Furthermore, these events were recorded as part of a film on Iphigeneia at Aulis produced by Polskie Wydawnictwo Audiowizualne. The all-day and evening expedition on July 9th  departed  from Delphi and continuing up the Kaki Skala (the Evil Steps), was  punctuated by scenes from the Iphigeneia, a ‘symposium’ at the Corycian Cave and ended with a performance of scenes from Metamorphoses at Aghia Triada  on the valley below the Corycian Cave, where the local population had gathered together with about 100 conference participants from Delphi.
The scenes from Metamorphoses, based on Apuleius’ Golden Ass, were performed in front of the Aghia Triada church with a guest appearance by the two local donkeys who had accompanied the expedition—Christoforos and his wife Patientia.

The participants of the procession were the musicians and cast of the Iphigeneia in costume, 10 film crew members from Poland, the aforementioned donkeys and their keepers, and 15 black-clad apostles of the Civilization of the Dead (young Greek theatre actors). The processers remained in character all the way through stopping to observe or take part in selected scenes at choice stations. Amongst these were Punishment Rock, a magnificent mountain-edge overlooking the Corinthian Bay[1] and the sea of olives beyond Delphi, the Corycian Cave, a wild-boar farm, a water station and slopes of Parnassos.  A symposium, held outside the Cave was arranged around two lyrical stasima of the Iphigeneia laden with references to love, music and weddings :

Stasimon I: “Happy they to whom the goddess

                        Comes in moderate might,

                        Sharing with self-restraint

In Aphrodite’s gift of marriage

And enjoying calm from frenzied passions…”

Stasimon III :“Oh what a bridal song with Libyan flute,

With lyre dance-loving,

With reeds pipe-pealing,

Rang forth on the air...”

Professor David Wiles (theatrologist with a special interest in ancient Greece), in Socratic garb, gives an oration on the need to revive worship of the Dionysiac forces represented by the Corycian Cave.

On July 11th the full version of the the Staniewski adaptation, Iphigeneia at A… at the Frynihos Amphitheatre was distinguished by the performances of Mariusz Golaj as Agamemnon, Joanna Holcgreber as Clytemnestra, Karolina Cicha as Iphigeneia and Krzystof Globisz’s  inclusion as the messenger in the episodion—the concluding speech.  The well-known Polish actor, cast in the timeless image of a Greek shepherd bearing the young goat Rosa on his shoulders[2], gave his rich voice to the most deeply moving speech of  Iphigeneia’s ‘rescue’.

In addition to these Delphic events, a number of other scenes set up for filming were occasions where the surrounding environment of countryside, animals and vegetation blended the layers of myth into the present. Gardzienice theatre actors performed on mountain peaks, amidst the stalagmites of the Corycian Cave –sanctum sanctorum of Ancient Greece. 

Surrounded by wild boars inside a pen, Agamemnon (Mariusz Golaj) and Menelaus (Marcin Mrowca) argue desperately against each other.  The demon-faced boars stampede violently from each side to the next as the argument ricochets  between the two characters. The death-bearing words materialize and transform into a bestial image.

Inside the Corycian Cave, Joanna Holcgreber as Clytemnestra throws her accusations against her husband Agamemnon from the dark abyss of her soul. The dark abyss of the cave literally fuses and lends its bottomless depth to the dark recesses of her mind.

At Punishment Rock [3], Krysztof Globisz,assisted on a rope by  Staniewski and a climber, exclaims and cries out the Sibylline text:

            ‘Pergamos with walls of stone, Phrygia’s town,

He will encircle in bloody battle,

Cutting the defenders’ throats,

To drag their bodies headless away…’

The Parnassian rocks echo in our bones—is this an apocalyptic prophecy about an imminent future of our world today?

Two hundred Parnassian goats (the embodiment of ancient satyrs) surround Agamemnon (Mariusz Golaj) and his servant (Estella Levka) during their dialogue in the Prologos

On a small desert island, a broken fragment of wild earth in the waters of the Corinthian Gulf off Galaxidi, young actresses swim towards it performing the parodos

            “I have come to the shore

 And the sea sands of Aulis

Over Euripus’ waters

And the sea narrows sailing—

from Chalcis, my city”

Last, but not least, this many-layered event involved the collaboration of the local people of Delphi, Arachova and Galaxidi-- shepherds, guides, suppliers, fishing-boat owners, gypsy musicians–people who contributed not only their know-how and labour, but also their life stories and their hospitality and were thus an essential part of the project.

Staniewski thus conducted the flow of several currents  of energy creating clusters at locations dense with myth, where  the text and music of the Iphigeneia both drew  on the surrounding nature (vegetation, views, animals) while also enriching it with meaning.

This remarkable project opens radically new perspectives for theatre. It affirms that Staniewski’s idea of a theatre of ecology (from oikos meaning ‘house’ in Greek, first formulated  in 1977) can transcend boundaries on a global scale. Staniewskis quest is to recreate theatre as an environment—a sort of eco-system—in which apocryphal moments of mutual cohabitation between plants, animals landscape and humans can find artistic expression.

We can now look forward to the film of the Iphigeneia at A…, with the beautiful images captured by Wojciech Staron, the most talented Polish camera man of the new generation. The film should be edited by the end of the year.


Theatrical essay by Wlodzimierz Staniewski based on Euripides’ Iphigeneia at Aulis.

Polish translation……Jerzy Lanowski,

English translation…Charles Walker

Greek translation……Myris

Camera…………………Wojciech Staron

Director………………Wlodzimierz Staniewski


Mariusz Golaj, Marcin Mrowca, Joanna Holcgreber, Anna Dabrowska, Estella Levko, Karolina Cicha,  Benedict Hitchins, Alexia Kokkalis and graduates of Gardzienice’s Academy for Theatre.

Guest actor: Krzysztof Globisz


(The performance is a co-production of the Centre for Theatre Practices “Gardzienice” with Teatr Stary (The Old National Theatre) in Krakow.

[1] At the point where, according to legend,  Aesop had been thrown off the mountain.

[2] As in the timeless image of the moschophoros in the archaic and classical ages and, currently as the familiar modern greek image of country people carrying their ‘prize’—a goat or sheep won in a race.

[3] Varyingly thought to be part of the Phaedriades, or the cliff from which blasphemers were flung, or the Skirian rock  from which Skiron (killed by Theseus) threw his victims as they bent down to wash his feet.


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