After 415 performances in 18 countries, the EMMY award winner actor John Simonides comes to Santorini. Take a seat in the court of ancient Athens as Socrates goes on trial for his life, in a play which amazes the audience with its humor and the liveliness of its theatrical approach.
“Funny, witty, exciting” Odyssey Magazine
Followed by an open discussion.
The show is a co-production of ETS with the ‘Elliniko Theatro New York / Greek Theatre of New York’ and visionary culture.
Take a seat in the court of ancient Athens as Socrates goes on trial for his life. Hear the philosopher face his accusers with his trademark wit, cutting logic, and the courage of his ideals. Consider his arguments on virtue, justice, politics, corruption, civic duty, love of life and hope in death, and draw your own judgment. Enjoy the post-performance opportunity to discuss with the actor the ramifications of your verdict.
Think. Question. Change.
SOCRATES NOW, a production of the Greek Theater of New York (EllinikoThεatro) and Visionary Culture is a 90-minute solo piece that captures the essence of Socratic ethics in an accessible and engaging manner. Yannis Simonides channels the eccentric yet magnetic personality of Socrates and offers a profoundly social, political, but above all human work which captivates the audience with the humor, immediacy and simplicity of its theatrical rendition. An integral part of the performance is the open discussion that follows between the acclaimed artist and the public.
First presented by EllinikoTheatro in New York in 2004, it has since been performed to great acclaim at the United Nations, the Athens Agora, the NBC Today Show, and in over 430 venues in 20 countries and 8 languages . Leading world universities have combined the performance with interactive seminars on Socratic ethics and how they apply to our world today, led by award winning actor / scholar Yannis Simonides.
Socrates Now closely follows Plato’s portrait of Socrates’ speech at his trial in which he dramatically poses the question at the heart of Greek philosophy, “How ought one to live?”
The setting is an open-air court before a jury of 501 Athenians. Socrates is 70 years old and has a record of combat service in the recently concluded Peloponnesian War, and decades of renown – or notoriety – as a quirky character and clever arguer who publicly scrutinized traditional notions of “virtue” and “the good life.”
The charges against him are religious nonconformity and corrupting the youth. The prosecution aims to silence him once and for all. In their view, his dissenting activities harm the youth and risk the security of the city. To them, the volatile instability of post-war Athens amounts to a crisis that makes this matter urgent. To Socrates the court case is an opportunity to give a full, public accounting of his life’s work—that is, to deliver an apologia. The word in Greek has no relation at all to expressions of regret.
Athenian trials concluded all business in a single day and the litigants spoke for themselves, not through attorneys. Staying close to the source, Socrates Now starts with Socrates reviewing the charges and the motives of his accusers. He argues that his actions respect the true demands of piety, citizenship and care for the young. In the course of his speech he interprets the puzzling oracle proclaiming that ‘there is no one wiser than Socrates’ and likens the civic value of philosophical work to the way a gadfly irritates a lazy horse.
Midway through the performance Socrates reports the verdict: guilty. We are told the prosecution asks for death and yet also fully expects Socrates to counter with a promise to stop practicing philosophy and pay a fine. But Socrates does not back down. He refuses to accept the verdict defining him as a danger to the city. He will not cease and desist, though he does acquiesce to a modest fine to be paid by friends. He holds fast to the view that “the unexamined life is not worth living” and to the view that his work as a philosopher has great political value.
After the jury votes in favor of death – and does so by a larger margin than their earlier vote to convict – Socrates addresses the jurors who voted to convict him and those who voted to acquit him separately, in turn. He closes by reflecting on the immortality of the soul.
Other texts depict Socrates in prison awaiting execution, refusing opportunities to flee into exile and calmly drinking the hemlock.
Yannis Simonides’ singular performance of Plato’s Apology places you at the scene, giving audiences today a chance to have their own vicarious encounter with the humor, arrogance and brilliance of this thrillingly demanding figure.
–S. Sara Monoson, is professor of political science and classics at Northwestern University, USA
Born in Istanbul and raised in Athens, he is a graduate of Yale University and Yale School of Drama. He has served as professor and chair of Undergraduate Drama at New York University’s School of the Arts (NYU), director of GOTelecom Productions, director of Hellenic Public Radio in New York, and founding director of the Greek Theatre of New York (ellinikotheatro.org ). He has been awarded an Emmy by the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and has been named Ambassador of Hellenism by the city of Athens for his lifelong service to Greek arts and letters worldwide. Current projects are Socrates Now, the Maori-Bacchae in New Zealand, the dramatization of Plato’s Republic, the Makriyannis Memoirs and the international contemporary venture Theater of Peace.
Loukas N. Skipitaris
Veteran Broadway actor alongside Melina Mercouri and Harold Prince, director of numerous productions in the US and internationally, he also directed the American premiere of the Cretan oratorio Erotocritos at Lincoln Center for the Greek Theatre of New York. He was born in Thessaloniki and is the founding director of Theatron Inc, a Greek American theatrical organization.
Theoni Vahliotes Aldredge
With over 150 stage productions, dozens of ballets and numerous films and television movies to her credit, she is considered one of the most creative and successful American costume designers of the 20th century. Born in Thessaloniki, she earned recognition at a young age as the designer for the renowned New York Shakespeare Festival. She is the recipient of an Oscar award, three Tonys and a BAFTA. Theoni passed away in January 2011 in New York City.
Caryn Heilman is a percussionist and vocalist with the World Music of Nana ensemble, which blends multi-cultural musical elements. She has founded her own dance company, LiquidBody, and is co-founder of Topia Arts Center, a green arts and education center in Adams, Massachusetts.
Elliniko Thεatro / Greek Theatre of New York
Since its inception in 1979, it has sought to bring classical, medieval and contemporary Greek literature and drama to theatres, festivals, schools, universities and communities around the world. Minimal sets and casts, and bi-lingual productions—often enhanced by surtitles in several languages—, along with post-performance discussions and seminars, render the work globally accessible and attractive to a wide range of hosts, audiences and sponsors. «The most accomplished theatre of the Greek Diaspora» (Melina Mercouri) aims to continue serving as an innovative carrier of cultural diplomacy, expanding the temporal, spatial and social boundaries of Hellenic Theatre.
More info at www.ellinikotheatro.org
Following 16 years of experience in the cultural production and arts management sector, including a strategic partnership with ‘Paul Szilard Productions Inc., New York’ – international agent for the Martha Graham Dance Company and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater – in early 2015, Vassilis Grigoropoulos founded his own company, visionary culture, to produce, co-produce, represent and manage Greek and international companies and artists in dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts. In April 2015, following a close collaboration with the Greek-international choreographer Andonis Foniadakis, visionary culture brought to the Athens & Thessaloniki Megaron his full-evening piece, WISTERIA MAIDEN, which became a major artistic success. In March 2016, the Greek Ministry of Culture and the Greek National Opera announced Foniadakis as the new Artistic Director of the Opera’s Ballet Company. Currently, visionary culture is collaborating closely with EllinikoTheatro /Greek Theatre of New York and its Emmy award winning director, Yannis Simonides, co-producing the global theatrical success ‘Socrates Now’, as well as ‘Maori-Bacchae’, a new, ambitious international theatre project being developed in New Zealand, Greece and the USA.
More info at www.visionaryculture.org