Euripides’ the Bacchae is considered one of the greatest tragedies of all time. The idea of doing a Maori version of this classical work began at the Unitec University in Auckland, New Zealand, after a visit from Yannis Simonides to the Unitec marae (Maori meeting house) in April 2014 during the Auckland leg of the “Socrates Now” Antipodean Tour.
The Haka welcome (Maori ceremonial dance) evoked in Simonides the power of ancient Greek tragedy, whose vitality, lyricism and ritual he believes have been lost in Greece today. He and the Unitec Performance head John Davies immediately agreed to create a Maori language and worldview version of the play, hence the Maori Bacchae was born.
The play has been translated into Maori, the script and worldview are being explored, and early workshops have begun. Preliminary stage and costume designs have been drawn, constructed and tested; music is being composed. New Zealand and international funding is expected to be secured by June 2017, with full rehearsals to begin then and with premieres expected in Auckland and Wellington in late fall of the same year. Touring of Oceania, Greece, Europe and beyond to commence in early 2018.
MB Team includes:
Producer /co-director Yannis Simonides
Co-director John Davies
Producer /Documentarian Vicky Yiannoutsos
Translator /Composer Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal
Associate Director/ Choreographer Ngarino Watt
Stage Designer Tolis Papazoglou
Costume Designer Gavin McLean
Executive Producer Charlie McDermott
The Maori Bacchae possesses a significant research dimension, in that through the development of the work new knowledge will hopefully be created in areas designed to ensure that the project will generate value beyond the life of the theatre piece, such as:
The nature of intercultural encounter itself, the Maori Bacchae as a case study.
The MB as a model for teaching and learning in a tertiary education setting. In doing so, the team will seek to uplift Maori values and principles in those settings and demonstrate the value of intercultural potentialities for the modern student.
A multi-dimensional exchange between the Ancient Greek and the indigenous Maori cultures: the reawakening of foundations and of the divinity of both. Also, a revisiting of events shared by both Greece and New Zealand in the Battle of Crete in 1941 and its aftermath.
The development of a highly innovative Maori artistic product, in partnership with an ancient Greek masterwork, eventually and successfully taken to international audiences and venues.
The crafting of an articulate socio-cultural commentary on the menace of political, financial, and religious totalitarianism as experienced in our world today.
EllinikoTheatro – Greek Theatre of New York & Athens
Unitec University and Institute of Technology, Auckland NZ
Te Papa Tongarewa – the National Museum of New Zealand
Hawaiki Tu – Company of Maori performing artists
Foundation North – Community Trust for Auckland and Northland
Creative New Zealand – the national arts development agency
Orotokare – Arts, Story & Motion Trust, NZ
Vix Pix Production, LTd – film production company, Auckland, NZ
Augusto Design – design and transmedia agency, Auckland
Visionary Culture – production and management company, Athens, GR