Blitz?s latest performance starts with nothing more than an actor holding a piece of paper with a name written on it, at a makeshift theater in an underground car park. ?My name is Mahatma Gandhi. I died in 1948. I miss…? the actor begins. Gradually, the rest of the cast appears on the stage, each holding up the name of a person or something else that has gone forever.
Titled ?Galaxy,? the show addresses monumental concepts such as life, death, joy and loss in the simplest way, and encompasses the milestones of world history in a four-hour performance, which is currently on stage at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation.
The theater group, which was founded seven years ago by Giorgos Valais, Angeliki Papoulia and Christos Passalis, boasts a number of successful and innovative productions and earned a nomination this year in the New Theatrical Realities category of the European Theater Prize.
Though ?Galaxy? addresses profound questions, the concept is extremely simple: Eight actors embody people who have died, objects that have been lost, ideologies that have fizzled out or phrases that have faded from the lexicon.
There is no particular attention to costumes or the other kinds of details that can send production costs rocketing, and this was the objective to begin with as ?Galaxy? was created for the Low Budget Festival last December, also held at the MCF Cultural Center. The performance, however, is never the same as new faces are introduced each time.
Death is a recurring theme in Blitz?s works, as seen in productions ranging from ?Faust? to ?Cinemascope,? which is set in the last nine days before the end of the world.
?Death has been completely exiled from the modern way of life,? Valais told Kathimerini. ?Even regulations in apartment buildings forbid you from keeping the body of a dead person in your house for the traditional period of mourning.? Yet, the group argues, being aware of our mortality is what gives life meaning, just as the ephemeral nature of objects makes us appreciate them more. In ?Galaxy,? Valais elaborated, death is not presented as macabre but as joyful, and the performance uses joy and humor to punctuate this message. The actors occasionally go too far when it comes to shielding the audience from the central theme.
?I think that there are moments that could have been a bit heavier,? admitted Papoulia. ?Sometimes you need to make something appear more tragic so that it becomes funnier.? Humor, however, is not the only way death is dealt with in ?Galaxy,? which features silence in equal measure.
The overriding sentiment that emerges from the production is that the dead have left behind their hatred and passion, that they are reconciled to their common fate. The characters represented come from across the board: anarchists and fascists, saints and sinners, philanthropists and terrorists.
The dead in ?Galaxy? are also objects and ideas that may strike a chord with members of the audience and represent the sense of loss that comes with the ?death? of a beloved object, a favorite phrase or an important ideology. ?It is as though all these people who came before us, all these things that were said, have resulted in what we know as reality today,? said Passalis.
The four-hour duration of the performance should not put anyone off, because members of the audience are free to come and go as they please.
?Galaxy? also features actors Aris Armaganidis, Thaleia Ioannidou, Eleni Karagiorgi, Elina Loukou, Michalis Mathioudakis and Nikos Flessas.
It is on stage Friday through Sunday at 8.30 p.m. until May 29, and tickets cost 15 euros.
Michael Cacoyannis Foundation, 206 Pireos, Tavros, tel 210.341.8550