Nicholas Mavrocordato The leisure hours of Philotheos (play in progress)

The plot unfolds in early-18th century Constantinople during the Tulip Period, a time of great Ottoman cultural boom under Sultan Ahmed III. The story takes place within a 24-hour period in the summer of 1715. The narrator, Philotheos, is strolling with friends in the Hippodrome Square (At-Meydani) in the city, where they meet some strangers in Persian clothes who speak Italian. One of them invites them to continue their conversation in his garden. There follows a description of the enchanting garden, until Turkish gendarmes invade it and arrest Cornelius. Next, Philotheos and Iakovos go to meet a literary, cosmopolitan group of friends at Galata or Pera. Their conversation covers current affairs and literary and philosophical matters, while a boatman narrates his life story. The next day Philotheos and Iakovos visit their friend Cornelius in prison. There they meet a Turk who tells the adventures of imprisoned men. The last meeting-conversation takes place in the garden of Jacob, a crypto-Christian.

So we walked down a lane and crossed a small gate into the villa whose garden extended before the house, tended by nature and art. Situated on an elevation, the garden afforded exquisite views, was exposed to cool breezes, shone under the sun’s rays, was shaded by tall, lush trees, laurels, cypresses, was adorned with grape-heavy vines, had a host of tame trees—pomegranate, apple, peach, pear and all manner of trees—most of which, on that summer day, were full of excellent fruits, and aided by art they competed with nature. Indeed, they were ahead their natural time in providing their produce. It was these fruits that the garden’s owner offered to pleasure-seekers, pandering to their refined palate and securing their favour.

Critical edition: Jacques Bouchard
Modern-Greek translation: Dionysios Chatzopoulos
Directors: Spyros Vrachoritis- Sissy Papathanassiou
Visual and musical setting: Turquerie
Costume designer: Zoi Molyvda Fameli – VESTIARIO
Sound recording: Laboratory of Music Acoustics and Technology, Department of Music Studies, University of Athens
Actors: Kostas Vasardanis, Christiana Karamanidou, Chryssa Kapsouli, Andreas Mantas, Roza Prodromou, Evangelos Christou

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