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Gilgamesh: 4,000 year-old epic kicks off Barcelona festival

Oriol Broggi brings ancient story alive on stage for the Grec Festival 2018


03 July 2018 01:27 PM


ACN | Barcelona

‘The Epic of Gilgamesh’, has come to the stage in Barcelona. And what better way to pay homage to this ancient piece of human history, than performing it at an outdoor amphitheatre. This is how the Grec 2018 Festival kicked off at the Teatre Grec on Montjuïc, with ‘The poem of Gilgamesh, king of Uruk’ directed by Oriol Broggi.

Theatregoers enjoyed the warm midsummer night outside, and a story transporting them through time way back to the cradle of civilization to around 2,700 BC. This is a Sumerian epic, discovered on clay tablets in the 19th century. But despite its age, some of the themes are familiar to this day. The story of Gilgamesh, after all, contains some of the most popular stories in the western world, such as the great flood.

“Life is finite”

It is also a story of friendship, and the descent into hell, that has passed through many generations and spawned many versions. The protagonist, king Gilgamesh, “realizes life is short and finite, and wants to be immortal and transcend the limit imposed by nature,” explained this version’s director Oriol Broggi.

An ancient tale

Gilgamesh represents the beginning of civilized man, according to Broggi. “He begins to dominate nature well but with a savage side,” the director said. Indeed, the ancient tablets upon which the original text was found are often seen as showing concern about man’s desire for power as he struggles against limitations imposed by gods. As the epic unfolds, there comes a time when the king wants immortality.

Francesc Casadesús, director of the Grec Festival, told the Catalan News Agency that this year’s edition “has begun in the best way possible.” Running until Wednesday, the play lasts 115 minutes with actors speaking Catalan.


  • Theatregoers enjoying 'The poem of Gilgamesh, kingo of Uruk' (by ACN)

  • Theatregoers enjoying 'The poem of Gilgamesh, kingo of Uruk' (by ACN)