CULTURE

Back with new plays

While presenting the new season’s upcoming program for the National Theater’s Experimental Stage (Peiramatiki Skini) at a recent news conference, its artistic director, Stathis Livathinos, highlighted the need for continual development that reflected current conditions. «Mercy to any theater that does not belong to its era and fails to look into the cracked mirror,» Livathinos said. The director promised that surprises were in store this season and noted that, for the first time, after-midnight performances would be held at the National Theater’s Experimental Stage. The agenda includes an entirely new play, another that has never been performed in Greece, and one that has not been staged for a long time. The National Theater’s Experimental Stage will open its new season this Friday with one of Bertolt Brecht’s lesser known works, «Baal,» a provocative story of a drunken, ruthless, womanizing poet and singer, which the renowned playwright wrote when he was in college. Directed by Yiannis Paraskevopoulos, the play combines fresher elements of modern theater with cynicism and the harsh effects of living in a difficult era. At the news conference, Paraskevopoulos described the choice of «Baal» as a «risky» decision. He also acknowledged Livathinos’s willingness to provide opportunities for younger artists. The work’s translator, Petros Markaris, described «Baal» as a play dominated by «nature, pleasure and friendship.» The Experimental Stage’s second production for the season, «That Which Never Ends,» an entirely new production scheduled to begin January 10, fuses excerpts of writings by Greek poets of various periods – from 20th-century writers such as Palamas and Cavafy to contemporaries – into one production. The selections were made by Stratis Paschalis, a poet, while the props for the poetic amalgam’s stage adaptation are being prepared by Livathinos with «the sensitivity of modern man.» This production will also include after-midnight performances. The theater’s third production, to begin on February 28, is Nikolay Gogol’s «Overcoat,» which will make its stage debut in Greece. Russian director Nina Tsousova has adapted Gogol’s novel for the stage. Later on in the season – in May – the Experimental Stage will focus its activity on unperformed Greek theater. The National Theater’s plans for next summer, officials said, include two ancient plays, one of which will be Euripides’s «Medea,» which will be directed by Livathinos and will star Tamila Koulieva. The National Theater’s artistic director, veteran actor Nikos Kourkoulos, who attended the news conference, spoke of the Experimental Stage’s potential. «When I assumed the artistic director’s post at the National Theater, the first thing I did was to attempt creating the prerequisites to propel this important project forward,» Kourkoulos said. «Efforts are continuing. We have plenty of dreams, from the refurbishment of the building on Ziller St, where we are based, to the Experimental Stage, a prime player for us. We want it to operate as a dynamic complement, one that balances out the main stage’s more fixed academic course, and which can be seen as a point of hopeful reference for young artists. With Stathis Livathinos, the Experimental Stage has spread its wings, and is flying.»