‘We need excellent productions’

A busy two years are coming up for Maya Lyberopoulou, who is returning to the place where she began – the Theatro Technis, offering her services as both director and actor. Yet another of the theater’s early stars, Vassilis Papavassiliou, will also be returning. It’s an opening, a change for the Theatro Technis which Giorgos Lazanis wanted personally, says director Karolos Koun’s legendary actress. I feel everything there is familiar but everything is also new. And we must now face the future as a new attempt at the past. This is a phrase from Antonis Zervas which I came across in your newspaper. It expresses exactly the meaning of the collaboration with the Theatro Technis: The future as a new attempt at the past. It is neither a condemnation, nor a rejection, nor a questioning of things. We are in ‘the process of finding the medium,’ as Giorgos Heimonas put it very nicely. And the medium is something very specific and fertile. Do you see? If they excite me, if I love Heimonas’s texts wholeheartedly, it’s because the person is reflected in them; especially the person who attempts to create. The winter repertoire Her love for Heimonas, who died prematurely, and his writings inspired her to adapt his work O Echthros tou Pieti (The Poet’s Enemy) for the theater. She staged it last spring at the Municipal and Regional Theater of Patras and it is currently being performed there again. Last Friday it opened for a few performances at the Theatro Technis, at the stage on Phynichos Street. Lyberopoulou will then direct and play in Thomas Bernhard’s Destination – to premiere on November 22 – this time for the Theatro Technis’s Ypogeio stage. Her plans this year even include a production based on Faust with texts by Pushkin, Goethe, Marlowe, Pessoa and Louvet, while at the beginning of next year’s theater season she will play – always in collaboration with Theatro Technis and the Municipal and Regional Theater of Patras – in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, along with Reni Pittaki and Minas Hadzisavvas as directed by Papavassiliou. I feel a sense of satisfaction, says Lyberopoulou, because at times like these, especially after the events in the USA and despite the risk of whether people will be interested or not, I am involved with works like these of Heimonas and Bernhard which speak of man’s undaunted nature… Is she worried whether people will be interested or not? Yes, because superficiality predominates today, something for which the audience also bears a responsibility. Heimonas, of course, was a great success this spring in Patras and I won’t hide the fact that this was very moving for me. Young people were interested in him – I remember a 16-year-old girl who asked me if this writer wrote lyrics to rock music because ‘his words and his syntax are like good rock!’ Is this a modern production? Not at all, Lyberopoulou retorts. I hope that both Heimonas and Bernhard will be contemporary, not ‘modern’ productions. I always remember my teacher Tsarouchis when he would say, ‘Today everyone is becoming modern just like they are all becoming academics.’ Modern and ‘novel,’ without any cause or reason. These will be contemporary productions. I couldn’t find a more contemporary language than that of Heimonas, nor a more contemporary figure than Bernhard. It would be barbarous and blasphemous if the production was not simple. The only decoration will be its language. Heimonas’s language was what inspired her to stage this work. She had adapted it and received the author’s approval before his sudden death. Heimonas’s language is oral, she explains. Not a day-to-day language, it doesn’t have the immediacy of the quotidian, but his characters are real and the play tells a story. It is the story of the poet Constantinos Laios and is very reminiscent of the traditional Tragoudi tou Nekrou Adelfou (Song of the Dead Brother): The poet goes abroad to Brittany to fetch his twin sister when his unknown enemy kills him. At which point the journey toward Ionia, to his roots, begins. I also find this journey very contemporary, says Ms. Lyberopoulou. Because we are all afraid of a future which is uncertain, but, as we said: We must face the future as a new attempt at the past. The cast of The Poet’s Enemy, besides Lyberopoulou, includes: Demosthenes Papadopoulos, Natalia Capodistria, Viki Volioti, Leonidas Kakouris, Gina Kalantzi and Dimitris Kefserides. The sets and costumes were designed by Damianos Zarifis; the music is by Thanos Mikroutsikos, the choreography by Constantinos Rigas and the lighting by Sakis Bribilis. ‘It doesn’t have answers’ It’s a production which poses questions; it doesn’t have answers, Lyberopoulou says. Theater, like good cinema, cannot simply reflect society like a photograph. It reflects it by interpreting it. It is something that disturbs. This is not at all what happens with these ‘quick’ plays which are all the rage now and which just show – thus glorifying – all our woes on stage. When I watch these plays I sometimes feel as though they are an invasion of a new ‘boulevard’ theater. Which does nothing other than flatter the people who live today’s materialism. Because it makes them think that this is natural. Just like the old boulevard theater spoke to the middle classes about adultery. So I won’t be misunderstood – I know I bear the stigma of the ‘trendy,’ the burden of which I fully shoulder – I don’t mean that such things shouldn’t exist, but the other types should not disappear. We have a need for not just good productions but for excellent ones, those which create and inspire the intellect. Because we have almost become sick of our bodies from too much physicality. Destination by the highly sagacious and provocative Bernhard poses the same questions as Heimonas. It is being staged using Petros Markaris’s translation with costumes by Damianos Zarifis, music by Iakovos Drosou and lighting by Sakis Birbilis. The play’s three characters, an art-loving lady (played by Lyberopoulou), her art-loving daughter (played by Antigone Pantazi) and a playwright (Alexis Saripanides), when talking of what is art, theater, success, are in essence speaking about mankind and the world, about our lives today. In Heimonas, the hero is a poet, in Bernhard, a playwright, observes Lyberopoulou. In essence, and despite the enormous difference in mood of the two texts, they pose the same questions. And they allude to something quite internal which doesn’t need to be rationalized by the audience. We’ve overdone reason since the fall of the dictatorship, searching for ‘the meaning of the play.’ We’ve forgotten somewhat that a play captivates you without you knowing why – you just feel things. It’s not reason, the relationship with art isn’t rationalism. It only requires willing, open people.

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