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               May 2016,

Ajax by Sophocles,  


Paris to Athens

Free translation, adaptation and staging:

Ismini Vlavianou

Masks, stage objects:

Anne Meriaux

Artistic speaker:

Samir Siad 

Choreographies from an original idea by Corinne Barbara (choreographer)

Surtitles in Greek:

Antigone Vlavianou (academic)


Show performed at the Dimotikon Theatron in Piraeus (Greece) on May 4, 2016, as part of an inter-establishment project with the Jeanne d'Arc high school in Piraeus, with

15 young French people and 17 young Greeks .

Show performed in Bobigny, MC93, for the 7th Festival des Ecoles, May 22 and 28, 2016 by the

28 students from Première and Terminale from the Lycée's Theater Workshop.




Room program for AJAX by Sophocles

Ajax, the first of the Greeks in Troy, being denied the arms of the legendary Achilles, leaves to kill in retaliation the leaders of the Greek army. But Athena changes her anger into mania, and the hero humbles her iron in the blood of innocent cattle. Recovering his spirits, Ajax does not cease that he has put an end to his life. 

Like Oedipus and Antigone, Ajax is a solitary hero. Far from any family fatality, his act is part of an individual will; it must be done to be free. 

On stage, Ajax wears a falcon mask, a rare bird that has remained misunderstood by the choir, the average person.  



Ismini Vlavianou

Invitation Ajax pour Bobigny.png
 Ajax by Sophocles, from Paris to Athens
The National Theater of Piraeus.
and  attach  a spectacle
Le Théâtre National du Pirée.jpg
The hall of the National Theater of Piraeus
La salle du Théâtre National du Piré


          Ajax by Sophocles, from Paris to Athens




Hello, my name is Marie-Julie and I am in first class at Louise Michel high school in Bobigny. I am also part of the High School Theater Option which allowed me to come here to Athens.

This experience is... inexplicable! In one week, we experienced things that no one else has experienced in 1000 years. We performed Ajax (adapted by Mrs. Ismini Vlavianou) in the second largest theater in Athens! What more ?

We played with Greek students from two high schools in Piraeus (Jeanne d'Arc high school and Saint Paul high school) who made us feel extremely welcome. We shared unforgettable moments together!

Talking to them (in French), our conversations turned to politics; indeed, France and Greece are countries in crisis within the EU. On the day of the performance, we were all stressed, which even created tension between us, but everything went back to normal when we all did well!

I played the role of Teucros, Ajax's brother. My role, I shared it with Meddy, I played the last three pages. A heroic role, but not very simple…

This experience won't happen again, so I'm very happy to have had it.      Marie-Julie, 1st STMG 2



Greece and France are both countries belonging to Europe, these two countries have an identical political system and an identical currency, moreover these two countries remain in a deep economic crisis.

The theater being of Greek origin is today widespread all over the world. We, students of Lycée Louise Michel, are part of the Theater Option with a French teacher and a history and geography teacher. This year, our show was multifaceted with dancing, singing and a choir led by the corypheus who also represents the spectator on stage. The trip to Greece was very necessary, because it allowed us to visit the traces of the theater, to open our minds even more, and also to share with the Greeks our experience of the theater. Playing in a different country, with people from another country, was an exceptional experience. Sharing the same anguish, the same stress, the same apprehension during rehearsals and the show brought us closer together. Moreover, the meeting with the Greeks was very simple and we quickly exchanged. The Greeks are very sociable, open and warm, which allowed us, the French, to be at ease with them. We and the Greeks were very close, which allowed us to put on a magnificent show.

The roles were diverse: Ajax, Teucros, Menelaus, Tecmesse, Agamemnon, the Corypheus, Athena, the choir and Ulysses who was my role. I also played as Ajax five. Ajax five is the only Ajax who, at the start of the play, is already wearing the mask of the falcon; Ajax five is the one who dances imitating the flight of a falcon. This depiction of Ajax shows the image associated with Ajax, as the latter is compared to a lonely, suicidal hawk. Odysseus is the one who discovers the infamous crime of Ajax and who informs the Greeks of it; he discovers this by the word of Athena. At the end of the play, Ulysses comes to calm things down and opposes King Agamemnon. He also declares to Teucros his compassion for Ajax's death. The difficulty of playing Ulysses was to address the goddess Athena without looking at her.

               Djara, 1st L

In this new year 2016, our troupe from the Louise Michel de Bobigny high school is staging an adaptation of Sophocles' play, Ajax from Paris to Athens. Throughout this year, our teachers, Mrs. Vlavianou and Mrs. Mériaux, as well as our artistic speaker Samir Siad, accompanied us in our play. We play in partnership with the MC93, and every Wednesday we rehearse at the conservatory of Bobigny, Jean Wiener. At the beginning of the year, our teachers told us that 15 students from the Theater Option will go to Greece to perform the play with Greek students. It was therefore a huge project, but to carry it out it needed the help of the Sciences Po foundation to finance this project. Subsequently, we, French students, had to carry out a debate with the Greek students to find out what their relationship with France is? what do they think of France? So it was an interesting project, Greece being part of the European Union, and we had many questions to ask them…

Our trip to Greece from May 2 to 6, 2016 was a fabulous experience. Going back to the sources of theatre, to the history of Greece, to its heritage, allowed me to get to know Greek mythology better. We visited historical monuments, such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. This stay allowed us to visit the country a little, and especially to perform our play with the participation of Greek students. The fact of having played with the young Greeks allowed us to mix our cultures, our origins, our know-how. The Greeks have done a marvelous job in the choir. They were very willing, enthusiastic and warm. They made us want to play better. They knew their role by heart and their songs recalled their origins. The Greek students spoke French very well and we could therefore easily exchange our feelings… Especially when a Greek said to me: “I'm stressed for this evening, I'm afraid of not succeeding”. She even cried, and that touched me, because they were doing all that work for us in the choir. It must be said that standing for more than an hour in the choir is very difficult. This proved to us that the Greeks did not take this show lightly, that they really wanted to make it a success. And I thank them for everything they have done for us.

My role is that of Ajax; I share it with 4 of my classmates: Maadiou, Amina, Samy and Djara. The moment when I have to go on stage is when I discovered my crime against animals: "Woe to me". Shame and worry win over Ajax. How will he get out of this situation? He feels dishonored and ashamed, even to the point of killing himself.

For Ajax, our teacher made us masks. She was inspired by the ancient theater where the actors played with masks that covered the whole face. But our masks were open from the mouth so we could talk and breathe. I found this idea brilliant, especially since the mask is very beautiful. This mask helped me a lot to get into my character. When I come on stage, I feel like a rare bird. I play with the coryphée (Aude), Tecmesse (Tida) and the choir. Their presence is important because we have exchanges of glances, interactions... 

Performing in Greece gave me a fabulous theatrical experience. I therefore thank Sciences Po, my classmates, my teachers, and the Greek students for their help.

                  Myriam, T ES 1



Our theater teacher, Mrs. Vlavianou, translated and adapted Sophocles' tragedy Ajax and we built an inter-school project: 15 students from our option performed Ajax in Athens with 16 Greek students who made up the ancient choir.

In Greece, we found the Greek students the day after our arrival and we rehearsed all day on May 3. On May 4, at 9 a.m., work began with the technicians of the Dimotiko Theatro theater in Piraeus. After a whole day of rehearsals, we staged our play the same evening, at 8:30 p.m., in front of 650 Greek spectators. The whole performance was over-drawn in modern Greek, we had to get our lines out clearly for the Greek spectators to follow. What emotion ! What an incredible experience! 

The Greeks told us that they had given the best of themselves because we were at their side.

These 4 days in Athens were filled with stress and fulfillment, because of the play we put on in Piraeus, the meeting with the 16 Greek students, the ties we forged, but also the monuments we 'we visited, like the Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon. 

From this experience, I have grown, surprised to see to what extent the French and the Greeks have a strong, even complementary link: with the same currency, the migrant crisis, the economic crisis... and of course the intense link with the Union European.

I also really liked the way the Greeks welcomed us. We forged ties gradually, little by little, and what helped us the most to forge these ties was the fact of having played Ajax together, and in particular the roles of coryphée and chorus, which are complementary. Afterwards, we all exchanged our contacts.

"And how can I explain the inexplicable to you?" This quote from Tecmesse – my role on stage – shows how unique and incredible the experience we have had, and that you have to have lived it, felt it to understand it. When we left the theatre, we were greeted like real French actors, which surprised me because I wasn't expecting it at all, but I was delighted because I felt like someone exceptional.

To conclude, I would like to thank my two professors, Mrs Vlavianou and Mrs Mériaux, for this fabulous experience, as well as Mrs Bertot who gave us her agreement and who believed in our project, and Sciences Po who helped us to finance this project ; help without which we would not have been able to go to Greece.

                Tida, T STMG



Experience (visit, stay)

My feeling of having embodied the role of Tecmesse is of having been a real actress on stage: I had the impression of being an actress for 10 minutes. This experience was incredible and the training we did in Greece helped me a lot to progress more in my role. I felt more comfortable in Greece during these 4 days. We did a lot of spinning and we all progressed in our roles because I think we were very stressed, as well as the teachers.

We have done tours in Greece. We visited the Acropolis on the first day, the Parthenon, and the Temple of Cape Sounion on May 5th. The visit to the Acropolis was superb, it was wonderful; I had the impression of being in the 5th century BC going up to the Acropolis: the monument is very old, the Greeks kept it as it was with its ruins. The visit to the museum allowed me to reinforce my general knowledge thanks to the explanations of my teacher. This museum contains many objects and sculptures from antiquity. At the museum, one has the impression of climbing the Acropolis, visible through the windows, by the stairs made available. At the entrance to the museum, they also kept ruins of houses. This experience was very nostalgic and later I will tell my children about it.

The meeting with the Greeks went well. They spoke French, and that helped us understand each other better. This meeting was very moving, we exchanged contact details so that we could keep in touch afterwards.             Sarah, T ES 1



On May 2, 2016, as soon as I arrived at the airport in Greece, an experience opened up for me that I had not yet seen, Athens! We were a troupe of 15 students accompanied by our two theater teachers, one of whom is from Greece, Mrs. Vlavianou.

That very day we had the chance that some young people did not have: to visit the Acropolis and its museum.

We wandered around Athens and then had lunch for the first time in a Greek restaurant (I loved the stuffed tomatoes).

On May 3, 2016, early in the morning, we all had breakfast together, but what I understood was that it was to cement the bonds of the group. Then we presented ourselves at the Jeanne d'Arc high school. During our preparations for rehearsals, the Greeks arrived, and what I have to say about their performance is that it was exceptional. We had a bit of difficulty creating links with them, but it happened naturally over time and very quickly. That same evening we visited the port of Piraeus, and in the distance we saw the mountain of Salamis.

On May 4, 2016, the day of the event, we spent a full day rehearsing with the Greek high school students, our bonds were even stronger. We were all under pressure, on edge…. just after the last spinning, but what I understood is that Mrs Vlavianou and Mrs Mériaux made sure that we didn't rehearse anymore and as time went by we discussed between French and Greeks to know a little more about each other. During the performance, 650 spectators watched us perform the play adapted by Ismini Vlavianou, Ajax by Sophocles from Paris to Athens, with costumes and masks designed by Anne Mériaux. Each French and Greek student gave the best of himself.

And I intend to inform you that we had the strength to represent our school as well as our country, France. It is the same for the Greeks.

The next day, after the theatrical performance, we visited Cape Sounion with Greek students. The landscape was magnificent. I felt like I was living in Greek myths. The evening, which for us Frenchmen was a joy to go out with the Greeks, turned during our Farewells into an unimaginable sadness.

Friday, May 6, we returned to France hoping one day to return to Greece.

Visiting all these historical monuments, the beautiful Greek landscape, it made me feel something in me that gave me strength to succeed in my life.

The tensions within the group, of which I myself was the author, were only a test and in the end we succeeded in forging friendly ties. This trip brought me many things and each of us will never forget these extraordinary moments.

I would like to thank Mrs. Bertot for the support she gives us, Mrs. Vlavianou and Mrs. Mériaux, as well as the Saint-Paul and Jeanne d'Arc schools.

And finally, you, my French and Greek friends from the Theater Option, I love you! you will forever be in my heart.

                Maadiou, T STMG 1



Wednesday, May 4, I played Teucros, Ajax's brother, in the play Ajax by Sophocles adapted by Madame Vlavianou, at the Dimotiko theater with Greeks. What was hard to achieve was to unite our work with that of the Greeks in a very short time, but we did it. We have indeed been working on this piece for months, but separately, and when we worked together I felt more united with them, as if we had known each other for months while we is known just two days ago. I think it's through communication, getting to know each other, our different cultures, and there were no language barriers. 

This experience opened my eyes to several things: first that this project required a gigantic amount of work, whether on the part of the students or the teachers; and that we can do an international project.

The fact that we talked to each other often, even though we knew that we didn't understand everything we heard and what we said, allowed us to unite more and more, to help each other each other, to meet people with different cultures and to create new relationships.

                Meddy, T STMG

                Thursday, May 5, 2016



Athens, the motherland of modern democracy, has influenced the cultures of surrounding countries for centuries, especially in art. The theater was brought to us by Aeschylus in the 5th century BC. Today, we French people have traveled from Paris to Athens to perform an ancient theater play there. Sophocles' Ajax tells the story of a Greek hero who, humiliated by his peers, commits suicide leaving his wife and child behind. We didn't go to Greece just to perform our play, we went there to share a unique experience with 16 young Greeks.

When we arrived in Greece, we were counting on learning a lot about this country, its extraordinary history with the gods of mythology, the history of the creation of the city of Athens as well as the cultural sharing with young people of our age. . 

Our arrival in Athens was eventful. We hadn't even got off the bus that had dropped us off at the hotel in Piraeus before we had to go back to visit the Athenian monuments. On the road leading from Piraeus to Athens, we did not imagine seeing a European Union country so different from France. Some of us have even compared it to “bled”. We knew that Greece is in a deep economic crisis and we could see it with the infrastructure and some dilapidated houses covered in graffiti. Arrived in Athens, we went to see the Acropolis museum. The nice thing about waiting to get into the museum was the remnants of the ancient city of Athens beneath our feet that we could see as we queued up, and where we could throw coins in what must have been an ancient fountain. The tour of the museum was very interesting, it gave us the impression of going up to the Parthenon while admiring the caryatids or the sculptures of gods, goddesses or sovereigns of Antiquity. We even saw bas-reliefs from the Temple of Athena that we had seen in photographs in our high school history textbooks. For me, who is very attracted to Greek mythology, this time travel was particularly moving. I have always wanted to visit Greece; the fact that my suburban high school was able to allow me to realize one of my travel dreams makes me extremely grateful to all the people who participated in the realization of this colossal project. After visiting the museum, we obviously went to visit the temple of the goddess Athena who gave her name to the city, after an argument with the god Poseidon to know who will be glorified by the inhabitants of the city. Athena, having brought out of the ground an olive tree which pleased the Athenians, won the right to "own" the city. This temple is impressive, it is made of very slippery marble. I then wondered how the Greeks were able to achieve this by coming out of prehistory. I really admire their talent.

I am also the young students with whom we played our play and with whom we gradually created a cohesion through the game. There were contacts, laughter, as well as tears at the end of the show. The Greeks welcomed us into their homes with great joy and openness. They saw us above all as young people of their age before seeing the French in us. Communication was very easy: they spoke French and taught us words and expressions in Greek. I, who played the corypheus, so the head of the choir made up of Greek students, I think I have a very strong bond with them. The Greeks gave me a lot of support in my role as corypheus. At one point during rehearsals,  a student, surprisingly nice and smiling, reminded me of a movement of the choir that I had forgotten. The Greeks impressed me a lot: they integrated our piece as if they had already played it with us. I loved this feeling of sharing with them, in the game, in the words, and even in the slices of pizza before the show!

Thank you ! Ekaristo polli!

                Aude, T ES 2



France and Greece are two countries that are part of the European Union. They are democratic countries, they have the same currency, the euro, and they have both gone through an economic crisis. Greece is the land of art and theatre. A fact that does not go unnoticed because in Athens we have seen many ancient monuments. It was like a return to the sources of antiquity. Without its monuments, Greece would no longer be Greece. And despite its economic situation, Greece remains a model for other countries and one of the most touristic countries in Europe. Greek culture is different, but as in every country, it takes time to adapt to integrate. A future in Greece or in Europe does not seem impossible to me because, during this trip, I noticed that it was more or less the same functioning, everything looks the same.

The playing experience with the Greeks, the other European, allowed me to open up even more. I played the role of the corypheus and I had to lead 16 Greek students located behind me. I communicated easily with them because we spoke in French, in English and we learned to speak in Greek. Everyone's enthusiasm and good humor kept me from giving up. All the young people helped each other and discussed together. There was a general integration and work on oneself, especially on my part. We comforted each other when a student was in pain, whether it was French or Greek, like when a Greek student cried from stress, we were all there for her. We exchanged our social networks from day one.

Our show was splendid, grandiose, fantastic. I was surprised to see such success from us with just one run. I even cried at the end of the play as I was overwhelmed with emotions.

I was worried about making this trip because I asked myself a lot of questions: how are the Greeks? will they welcome us? are they racist? kind ? Well, I was surprised how warm, sociable and very open-minded they were. Words fail me to describe this wonderful experience and if it were to be repeated, I would take part in it without hesitation. 

I would like to thank Mrs. Vlavianou who had the idea of doing this project as well as Mrs. Mériaux. I would also like to thank Madame Bertot, the Principal of the school, who agreed to take this trip with us, and also Sciences Po who helped us finance the trip.

                  Assetou, 1st L

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