Alexander the Great:
Between Dreams and Imagination
Elizabeth H. Filippouli
"Alexander the Great: Between Dreams and Imagination" is a multimedia show combining a dramatised reading with the projection of visual imagery and music, as equal elements in the overall effect. To an innocent eye and ear, the visual imagery and music might well have seemed conceived and created for this show, but the subtler truth is that they were reborn in it.
Over 500 theatre lovers attended the world premiere of Alexander the Great: Between Dreams and Imagination at the British Library on Febryary 2, 3 & 4 2023.
The three sold-out performances mark the beginning of the play’s international tour.
Based on a modern epic poem by Greek playwright Stamatis Filippoulis, Alexander the Great: Between Dreams and Imagination is inspired by stories around legendary Macedonian king Alexander the Great and his hunger for knowledge and search for the true meaning of ‘greatness’.
The play is an invitation to re-imagine the personality of the statesman through the eyes of his tutor, the philosopher Aristotle, and reflect on his mortality and fragility. In this contemporary adaptation, the old is intertwined with modern references, making Alexander’s life relevant to today’s context. Art by Paul Benney contributed to a mesmerising, apocryphal effect and music by Greek composer Stamatis Spanoudakis lifted words and visual poetry.
The seven-strong cast, which included award-winning Peter Marinker as Aristotle and Moon Dogs’ Jack Parry-Jones as Alexander, performed the staged readings at the magnificent Entrance Hall of the British Library – the largest public building constructed in 20th century Britain by architects Sir Colin St John Wilson and MJ Long.
Elizabeth Filippouli, who did the adaptation, concept development and produced the play, said: “It is unlike any other play about Alexander the Great. It is philosophy meeting history, myth and imagination, but we also tell harsh truths about our societies today. It was an absolute pleasure to see a full house in the British Library over three performances.”
Jack Parry-Jones, who played Alexander, said: “The young Alexander comes to appreciate a greatness found in people and connection and hopes that he will be viewed for his kindness.”
Paul Benney’s allusive, metaphorical paintings, executed often many years ago but now given another kind of visual life by some deftly understated animation, were perfect in the way they coaxed the audience’s more unconscious responses towards the rich seams of meaning that lie beyond words, with a surprising, stimulating kind of immediate aptness that was never merely illustrative. Stamatis Spanoudakis’s musical ‘telling’ of the story of Alexander had been composed in 1995. Here, judiciously chosen extracts seemed to speak in eloquent outbursts, not so much to shape the audience’s mood as to celebrate the witnessed action – at times as if in a kind of ‘friendly competition’ with the text, like good friends wrestling for the joy of it. Thanks to Di Sherlock’s directing, the seven actors had been forged into a true ensemble, a whole that was more than the sum of its parts,