Behind-your-back play by Scottish playwright

Scottish playwright David Greig spent a busy few days in Athens this month, on a visit sponsored by the British Council. In addition to running a workshop – «Rough Writing for Rough Theater» – for postgraduate theater studies students from Athens University, he attended a staged reading of excerpts from his and other European plays at the Goethe Institute and held a question-and-answer session after a performance of his play «Mainstream» by Theatro tou Notou at the Amore Theater. Greig talked to Kathimerini English Edition about his work and some trends in the theater. Asked whether «rough» theater is related to «devised» theater or «in-yer-face» theater, Greig explains: «It’s rough in the sense of a rough draft. My plays are not so much in-yer-face theater as behind-your-back theater. I’m not interested in people looking each other in the eye, but in why they don’t look each other in the eye,» he says. «For me, ‘rough theater’ is a whole attitude to the work which affects everyone involved in the making of it. It doesn’t necessarily mean devised work – although ‘Mainstream’ was produced in a collaborative way and the actors had a lot of input. I think the point is that actors should always have a lot of input. They are artists like everyone else and, in fact, they are the people in front of the audience. For them to communicate, they must be part of the process of making the play and the show.» The author specifies that the two roles in «Mainstream» be played by four characters. It has the effect of making the action seem more provisional and the characterization less fixed, especially when almost the same lines are repeated by different characters. This kind of experimentation has met with success in European productions of his plays. Greig’s work has been performed in a number of countries, and the reception has varied, he says. «It all depends on the play and on the country in which it’s performed. Some of my plays don’t seem to travel very well. Others have been performed in many countries. ‘Mainstream’ seems to have become popular with directors and audiences abroad and I think this is a reflection of a taste in Europe for a more formally experimental theater. In Britain people tend to prefer a ‘straight’ play.» But Greig believes some trends in British theater are being replicated abroad: «In Britain, generally, we are at the end, perhaps, of a great wave of new play writing. This has been a huge influence on audiences and theater-makers who have been awakened to new voices, new stories and new issues. I think this wave has affected European theater and more and more places are now seeking out new young voices to tell stories about Athens, Berlin or Paris. There is always a place for classics but for a long time in Europe I think people had forgotten quite how powerful and urgent a voice from the present could be.» Still busy back at home, Greig has just finished a film script and is about to start a new play. In London, his translation of Camus’s «Caligula» is soon to open at the Donmar. «Mainstream» is on at the Amore Theater, 10 Prigiponison, Polygono, tel 210.6468.009, until February 9.

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