The Onassis Foundation, in an effort to meet the needs of the present and take on the challenges of the future, has developed a series of social, educational, cultural and developmental initiatives, making a bold statement when it comes to important events and serious issues of our times. Among them:
• Ancient texts at the Liechtenstein Art Museum
The Onassis Foundation held a series of dramatic readings inspired by Homer’s epics and entitled Of Heroes and Tears, at the Vaduz Art Museum in Liechtenstein on January 17, 19, and 25, 2007.
The first performance held on January 17, 2007, and entitled The Death of Patroclos was dedicated to Achilles’ avengement of Patroclos’ death. The second performance, which was held on January 19, 2007, and was entitled Trials and Tribulations, dealt with the love and myth of Odysseus as he confronts the Sirens, while the third, January 25, 2007, entitled The Return of Odysseus focussed on loyalty and returning to one’s homeland.
Artistic supervision and direction were undertaken by German director, Georg Rootering.
The performances were carried out in German, but interspersed with some small readings in Greek. Each performance was opened by Dr. Bernhard Zimmermann who explained the link between the ancient Greek texts and their modern readings.
• Homeric Epics in Germany
The Onassis Foundation approached successfully the German-speaking audience with an interesting presentation of excerpts from the Iliad. The dramatic readings took place in the building where the archaeological collections are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum in Munich in December 2007. The three dramatic performances, which were accompanied by music and were entitled Of Heroes and Tears- Achilles’ Revenge, were directed by Georg Rootering. Frank Radaz, who wrote the texts, was the dramaturgical advisor while Edward Winkelhofer was responsible for the installations. The actors Claudia Burkhardt and Gotz Argus presented the selected excerpts. The performances were repeated in February 2008 in the Bergamo Museum in Berlin.
Dr Anthony Papadimitriou, President of the Onassis Foundation, commented that the policy of the Foundation, which supports the idea that Greek culture belongs to all humanity, allowed for these events to fill in a serious gap that existed in the German-speaking countries.
• Homeric Epics in the USA
The dramatic readings of the Odyssey, which the Onassis Foundation has established, were continued in various cities of the United States.
In October 2007 the Affiliate Onassis Foundation-USA attracted a big audience at the Parthenon cultural centre in Nashville where a dramatic reading of excerpts from the Odyssey took place. The performance was repeated in the Art Institute of Chicago. The event was organized in collaboration with the Hellenic Museum and the Hellenic Cultural Centre in Chicago while a similar event was organized in May 2007 in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. Professor Gregory Nagy, Director of Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies, delivered the opening speech.
• Wrath, Noise, Silence: Dramatized readings in Berlin
An amazing performance was given in the Bergamo Museum in Berlin in February 2008. Part of Rhapsody A of the Iliad was dramatized by director Georg Rootering. The performance took place on the steps of the Altar of Zeus in Bergamo (a location known as Bergamo Altar).
This particular performance presents a unique feature. It ends with an elongated silence. The wrath of Achilles, the passions, the wars, the battles and the noise all end in silence. This is however a pregnant silence which gives birth firstly to poetic logos and then to a multitude of questions concerning the essence of life.
The same performance was given in Hamburg in the Hamburger Kunsthalle Museum in May 2009 and in Vienna in the Museum of Art History in October 2009.
The performances were attended by approximately 2,000 viewers.