Modern Greek poetry on stage

Director Stathis Livathinos uses the words «Version II» as a subtitle for the National Theater Experimental Stage’s production «What Does Not End,» which opened last week. In reality, the production is new, although it is based on separate, pre-existing texts. The Experimental Stage group also performed a show of the same title last year; the live performance of contemporary Greek poetry, a risky undertaking, had proved very interesting and had much appealed to young people. At first, the impression given was that last year’s performance would be repeated. Livathinos, however, announced that this was a different and new show. «The poems we worked on last year could not all fit in the performance,» said the director. «We were obliged to leave out many beautiful pieces. This year, we took the poems we had omitted, as well as new ones and created an entirely different show, using only a few poems from last year and about 30 new ones. We worked a lot on the show, which was very interesting for us, so we decided not to perform the same thing as last year, successful as it was.» New talents have been added to the group this year, like Fenia Papadodima, Tasos Giannopoulos, Giorgos Frintzilas, Sofia Tsinari and Mary Bouga. Otherwise the core remains the same, including Dimitris Imellos, Yiannis Mavritsakis, Vassilis Andreou, Stathis Grapsas, Giorgos Dambasis, Nikos Kardonis, Panayiotis Bougiouris, Maria Savvidou, Natalia Stylianou, Aris Troupakis and Stratis Panourios. This year, apart from Seferis, Elytis and Kiki Dimoula, compositions by Sinopoulos, Livaditis and others will be used. The content of the show is also different: It no longer centers on Greek 20th century history, as it did last year. «Last year we wanted our show to have a national identity, so that it could have a viewpoint of history. This performance has much more freedom, because it is a puzzle consisting of many personal stories, those of the actors, each of whom chose a poem. There are only indirect references to history, it is hidden under other things. The other difference is that last year’s production was more lyrical and sensitive, whereas this year we produced something harsher and more dangerous, because it contradicts the general opinion about what poetry is. It also includes some theatrical bits that are more extreme.» The atmosphere that prevails in the show evolved out of rehearsals and was not planned. «The texts just took us along, but so did the way we worked on them. We have changed compared to last year, after the harsh experience of our summer production of ‘Medea,’ which received such criticism.» The music and the songs of the performance remain the same; the music is by Nikos Platanos and the lyrics by Stratis Paschalis. The same applies to the sets and costumes, by Sotiris Stelios, to movement, by Mariela Nestora, and to the lights, by Melina Mascha. The show has one final novelty: It is only played Sundays at 1 p.m. and Fridays at midnight.