A Music Comedy
“Bacchus” is written in the style of The Old (Aristophanic)
Comedy. The book includes eight pages of costume design, at the
end of the English text (middle of the book)
SUMMARY OF THE PLAY
Princess Semele, a totally dumb bombshell from Thebes, hooks up
with Zeus, gets pregnant and turns the entire Universe upside-down.
Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus, takes the whole thing as an insult
to her own femininity, turns to the bottle (of ambrosia) to ease
her pain and vows revenge. The furious goddess finally “helps”
her mortal rival take an “one-way trip” to Hades and
thus Semele gets out of the picture for good. But there is also
Bacchus -the illegitimate son of Zeus and Semele. Hera, in her attempt
to get rid of the baby as well -and despite her feelings for second-class
deities- swallows her pride and teams up with Eris -her obese daughter
in law. Eris -the Goddess of Discord, who has a pockmarked face
and a Trojan war to her credit - goes out of her way to please Hera
but has to compete with the crafty Hermes who has been sent by Zeus
to straighten things out. The two goddesses count on Pentheus (Bacchus’
cousin and king of Thebes) for a satisfactory conclusion of their
dirty plans. Pentheus -who acts like a TV evangelist with a touch
of an American sheriff from the South- tries to kill the son of
Zeus. The whole story is witnessed by three spinsters - three washed
up actresses- that Zeus has asked to do their bit by serving as
chorus women. The three women do more than their bit and by acting
like “MORTALS EX MACHINA” manage to reunite Zeus and
Hera. Bacchus rewards the chorus women with the “well endowed
three-legged” Ion and his two identical brothers, while Pentheus
learns that there is more to life than false promises, wars, greed
and human pride.
Is the key theme of a music comedy by a young pioneer author
Pantelis Melissinos’ “Bacchus” constitutes a
completely new dramatic approach to the splendid persona of Dionysus,
god of the vigorous manifestation of life. Based on the ancient
variations of the myth about the birth and life of this god, P.
Melissinos creates his own fresh scenario in Modern Greek, which
he also “dresses” with his own original music –a
music comedy that manages to touch the soul of the audience. The
play was staged at the “Theatre of Setta–Nicos Papakonstantinou”
(Euboia) last summer and the summer before and it was a great success.
At the end of each performance the audience left with feelings of
joy and satisfaction and that was the best reward for the author’s
morale–as he says.
Pantelis Melissinos, son of the renowned Greek-oriented littérateur
Stavros Melissinos, gave an interview to “Davlos” about
his play and his intention to introduce his fellow humans to the
true meaning of life that currently has been forgotten and which
is none other than life itself.
REPORTER: Mr. Melissinos, you created “Bacchus”, a
theatrical comedy whose text, music and choreography along with
every other aspect of its production were all part of your own creative
imagination. How closely related is your comedy to the ancient myth
P. MELISSINOS: It is based on the various ancient versions of the
myth, which I studied taking also into consideration some contemporary
studies on Bacchus by English and German scholars, who have tried
to decipher the true meaning of this god.
REPORTER: What have you finally found out about Bacchus?
P. MELISSINOS: Bacchus is life itself. He symbolizes, first of all,
the true essence of life and subsequently its beauty.
REPORTER: What is the message your comedy is trying to convey to
P. MELISSINOS: “Bacchus’” message to modern-day
people who have missed the point of life, due to their relentless
pursuit of material wealth, is life itself that is to say friendship,
love, a smile or a glass of wine and daily life in general. People
close their eyes to these things and keep hunting for material possessions,
as if they were going to live forever.
REPORTER: You have lived for a long time in the West, and I mean
the U.S. What do people there think about life?
P. MELISSINOS: The initial inspiration that lead me to express such
ideas came from there. In the United States I witnessed the agonizing
pain of people who, in their money n’ power oriented pursuits,
stifled their true feelings. And their psychological support came
from either “gurus” or shrinks. Even the psychotherapists
I met had also arrived at an emotional “gridlock”. I
saw the human drama in all its “glory”. These people
give you the impression that they are unaware of their mortality.
But if you look more closely you realize that they are just trying
to exorcize death from their lives.
REPORTER: At the same time though, one could say, that the scientific
achievements add force to the human morale and spirit.
P. MELISSINOS: In the field of science and particularly in the field
of technology, which is certainly more advanced, there is an extreme
number of specialists who miss out on the true essence of science
and never experience its magic as a whole.
BEAUTY AS A PRINCIPLE OF THINKING AND FREEDOM
REPORTER: So the performances of “Bacchus” were very
P. MELISSINOS: They were successful beyond any expectation. The
play managed to win over the audience and brought on bliss and laughter,
which people rarely experience today.
REPORTER: The characters in the play are mythological figures but
you have invented their idiosyncrasies.
P. MELISSINOS: My aspiration was to familiarize the viewer with
the mythological figures, which you have mentioned, so that they
could touch the viewer’s sensitive chords. I also took the
artistic liberty to use Eris who, according to different mythological
versions, was Eros’ sister along with Anteros. Eros creates
bonds where as Eris brakes the bonds. Here we have two fundamental
chemical components that are part of the entire system of the Universe.
You can see all the ancient tragedies from two different angles,
the “mathematical” or “chemical” angle and
the popular angle. The popular angle is what ordinary people understand.
This is the magic -high ideas found in everyday stories.
REPORTER: So your comedy shows in which way the contemporary and
psychologically stressed individual can find some relief and happiness
because there is a better life beyond his miserable daily routine.
P. MELISSINOS: I like to make people laugh and I like to create
beauty around me. Those who can should create beauty around them.
This is what our ancestors did. “Hermes” by Praxiteles,
the Parthenon and the rest of the ancient Greek masterpieces were
meant to promote beauty (harmony). Beauty is a prerequisite in philosophy
and freedom. And the universe is in need of free minds. The world
though never changes prematurely. We cannot change the Natural Cycle
of Determinism but at least we can keep the flame of civilization