ELECTRA by Sophocles
The CAMERI Theatre of Tel Aviv, Israel
Tuesday 28 July│Paphos Ancient Odeon
Thursday 30 July│“Skali” Amphitheatre, Aglantzia
The Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv, after its unforgettable staging of the co-production Antigone in 2008, returns to the Festival to present Electra, a production that received rave reviews and among others the rewards: “The Israeli Theatre Prize 2015”: Best Production of the Year, the “Yosef Milo Prize” for Best Director of the Year 2014, “The Mayor of Tel Aviv Prize for Best Actress of the Year 2014” to Ola Shor Selektar for her role as Electra and Helena Yaralova as Clytaemnestra. The renowned Kfir Azoulai outlines the character of Electra and her extreme emotions: her passion for revenge, the pain caused to her by the murder of her father and the deprivation of her brother Orestes, in a setting that reflects their enclosed, frozen world, victims of their obsession for revenge, a revenge that cannot bring redemption.
▪ The performance will be surtitled in English and Greek
Agamemnon on his return from Troy was murdered by his wife Clytemnestra and his cousin and her lover Aegisthus. His daughter Electra, fearing for the fate of her little brother Orestes, secretly handed him over to a faithful servant, who took him in the land of Krisa at Fokida, to the king Strofius.
After eight years, Orestes, at the instigation of the god Apollo, returns to Mycenae in order to punish his father’s killers. To achieve this, he uses a trick: he sends the tutor to the palace as foreigner, in order to announce the supposed death of Orestes, whose ashes will bring other emissaries of the king Strofius. The news causes the anguish of Electra, who vainly seeks the assistance of her sister Chrysothemis in the murder of Aegisthus. Orestes and Pylades appear on stage, as bearers of the ashes of the supposedly dead man. Electra is initially unaware of the identity of envoys, but then recognizes her brother. They plan together the vindictive act and then Orestes carries out the murder of Clytaemnestra and then Aegisthus.
The tragedy Electra represents the latest and most mature, creative period of Sophocles. In this work, Sophocles focuses on the form of Electra and her extreme emotions: her vibrating passion for revenge, the sorrow for the unjust death of her father and the deprivation of Orestes.
The history of the house of Atreides was used by all the tragedians, but the difference in the work of Sophocles is that matricide happens with the condescension of the gods and is totally vindicated.
The director’s concept in this production of Electra derives from the conviction that revenge cannot bring redemption. Obsessed with revenge for generations, the Atreus family has become victims and murderers chased by demons they themselves created, and prisoners of this obsession for revenge.
The visual language of this production brings out this sense of closure very powerfully, and the internal, circular journey of Electra, which goes back to where it started, is graphically drawn by means of the video projections throughout the production. The production opens with Electra, as a young girl, meeting the body of her father in the same space where years later, as a grown up, she will wait for her brother to come to take revenge of the killing of their father, and it is in that same space where they murder their mother. There Electra sits by the body of her mother as she sat earlier by the body of her father when she was a young girl, wrapped in her father’s black coat. The repetitive return to the same space, the black coat of the father with which she wraps herself without letting it go, the snow on the ground which covers the stage throughout the production to represent the freezing of time, bring out the sense that revenge brings no relief, no redemption.
The theatrical space, designed by Polina Adamov, represents the enclosed frozen world of Electra and Orestes, victims of their obsession with revenge with no sense of relief. The palace is a mere narrow and long corridor, enclosed on the one side with one wall covered by white cold tiles marked by bloody graphiti that reads “Murder for Murder,” and on the other side by a front door that goes up and down like prison bars, like a guillotine. The singing of the chorus of women, who are trying to comfort Electra, is interrupted throughout the production by video projections that bring forth the memory of the murder like a relentless trauma from which Electra cannot recover. Revenge brought no change, except for one most horrific change. The naive children we see in video at the beginning of the production, have turned into ruthless murderers, with the same lust for revenge which drove their mother and her lover to do their act of murder.