Theatre

Reflecting Greek ethos

GOT A BITE! A scene from “Encore”

GOT A BITE! A scene from “Encore”   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Highlighting the human condition in different ways, “Encore” and “Women of Passion, Women of Greece”, staged at the ongoing Theatre Olympics, left a lasting impression

Two productions seen at the ongoing 8th Theatre Olympics presented by different groups from Greece were characterised by different artistic vision, sensibility and perspective, dissecting multiple layers of human condition. Both the productions were deeply rooted in great cultural history of their country. Watching these productions was a breathtakingly aesthetic experience.

Directed by Theodoros Terzopoulos, the founder-chairman of Theatre Olympics, “Encore - 30 years of Attis Theatre” was a stage adaptation of Thomas Tsalapatis's poem which was presented by Attis Theatre, Greece in English at Shri Ram Centre to a capacity hall. It is a highly tense work of art that provides deep insight into the soul of two young people — a man and a woman — possessed by destructive desire. The production leaves a disturbing, arresting and frightening impact on the audience.

Armed with big-sized knife with shining edge, the woman from one side of the stage and from opposite side a man moves towards each other, their faces are tense and their slow rhythmic moves, motivated by inner feverish desire evoke the feelings, of suspense and anxiety. Their dialogues are sparse delivered with intensity revealing complex relation between words and physical movements. Evoking emotionally charged atmosphere, they meet, creating an aura of passionate sensuousness and in the process they shout, shriek, and one character says, “Swallow me, and swallow me inside your system.” Another says with intense pain, “Get out of my body. I am drowning in the blood. The world is full of blood.” With great desperation, another character comments, “The world is tearing my flesh.” Though frightened, the rivals are trying to merge into one another to be transformed into one entity. At one place they exclaim, “We have become children again.” Whenever they are in frenzy, they say, "Encore! Encore! Encore!"

This is an excellent piece of theatrical art that projects visual poetry on stage, expanding the expressing power of theatre. Though we are irresistibly drawn to the erotic violence, desire and passion presented with intricacy and complexity, one grapples to understand its meaning in concrete terms which tends to be abstract at places. It appears that the production incorporates ancient Greek mythology that forms its core content. Inspired by the Dionysian tradition which stands for “existential instability”, the director has explored human passion and desire in a dialectical way to create a sense of the existential crisis of modern man. Music, set and lighting all richly contributed to fascinate and mystify the audience. Sophia Hill and Antonis Myriagkos give excellent performances that left deep emotional impact on the audience.

“Women Of Passion, Women Of Greece”

In comparison with “Encore”, “Women of Passion, Women of Greece” reveals its narrative about three great female characters through a female solo performer clearly and vividly. She narrates the life story of three great women of Greece, who occupy significant place in the history of Greek culture and politics in an unpretentious style which touches the hearts of the audience.

“Women Of Passion, Women Of Greece”

“Women Of Passion, Women Of Greece”   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Directed by Tatiana Ligari and written by Eugenia Arsenis, we watch three great heroines — Medea, Maria Callas and Melina Mercouri — on a train journey, offering glimpses of ancient Greece to modern one. Though these women lived in different times, they have one thing in common — the passion for love, for their art and struggle to create a world free from oppression in which women could live with freedom and dignity and in which true love is never betrayed.

Theatre lovers know about Euripides’s Medea who killed her own children out of deep love-turned-hatred against her husband who betrayed her. She loved her husband passionately and acted against her own people for the sake of her husband. In turn, what she got was betrayal and hatred which culminated in the murder of her own children by self. This immortal tragic character has become symbol of woman’s rage when she is surrounded from all sides by her enemies.

Then the solo actress Evelina Arapidi acts out the character of Maria Callas, a great opera singer of 20th Century who was endowed with great passion for love, for her craft and Greece. The solo performer projects her troubled life, her struggle, wartime poverty, her fatal love and unhappy marriage. We hear about her gradual vocal decline. She expresses her anguish against her husband and her audience who once praised her to the skies and gradually started ignoring her when her capacity to sing was badly affected.

Finally, she portrays Melina Mercouri, a Greek actress, singer and politician of last century. The greatest thing about this vibrant female artist was that she passionately loved her country as much as she loved her art. Realising her responsibility as an artist, she played leading role in the peoples’ struggle against the Colonel's Junta and after the fall of the dictatorship, she joined politics to give democratic direction to her country’s polity — such are the women of Greece who love with great passion things that are great in Greek civilisation who have vision, commitment and creative talent.

Director Tatiana largely depended on video projection to provide the socio-cultural backdrop. We watch on the screen mass movement against the dictatorship. However, at times the projection on the screen overshadows the solo performer occupying her place on the centre stage. Musician Fotis Mylonas occupies his place on left downstage giving lively support to the performer who occasionally interacts with him.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 11:36:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/reflecting-greek-ethos/article22984892.ece

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