Featuring large in the programme for this year’s season of classical plays at the stunning Greek theatre in Syracuse is an unlikely name: Rem Koolhaas. The Dutch archistar and founder of OMA hasn’t taken to acting or even directing, but was called in to design the scene for the three plays of the 2012 cycle: Aeschylus’ Prometheus, Euripides’ The Bacchae and Aristophanes’ The Birds.
This is the 48th season of performances masterminded by that bastion of classical culture, INDA, the National Institute of Ancient Drama, in the awesome atmosphere of the amphitheatre, the finest outside Greece, dating back to the 5th century BCE and almost entirely dug out of the rock. It now lies within the Neapolis Archeological Park just to the west of Syracuse, which, incidentally, is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site.
Koolhaas and his team (Barbara Materia, Francesco Moncada, Ippolito Pestellini and Miguel Taborda) have designed a setting in three connected parts, innovative but integrated with the ancient structure and, predictably, spectacular. It consists of a large terraced machine in the centre of the scene, a balcony behind it which arcs to connect with the top tier of the diazoma, and a floating stage in the orchestra.
Performances begin on May 11 and continue until the end of June: for more information and the calendar see the INDA website.