CULTURE

The ‘unwritten choreography’ of tourists at archaeological sites

They thought it would be interesting to show, on stage, how tourists «take over» touristic, especially archaeological, sites. From there various questions arose, such as: What do soldiers’ letters from the front and tourists’ postcards have in common? In other words, where do war and tourism meet since both have occupying forces? »Hot Spots, or I was There Too,» is currently on at director Michalis Marmarinos’s Thiseion Theater in Psyrri (7 Tournavitou). Co-produced with the German theater company Rimini Protokoll and with support from the Goethe Institute, the production does not feature a professional cast but rather tourism industry professionals, including guides, barstaff and air stewardesses. But what is so interesting about the way tourists take over an archaeological site? «The performance is not so much based on what tourists actually do, but on how national elements emerge, each site’s national identity,» said Rimini Protokoll’s Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel. «It’s incredible to see how the site is presented to tourists and how they, in turn, follow an unwritten choreography within it.» The German artists point to 1945, when Russian troops entered the Reichstag in Berlin, writing graffiti on the walls; when the German government relocated its headquarters there in 1990, the graffiti was kept as a memento. So where is the theatrical element in all this? «For us, theater is interesting when it is related to life, not when there’s a play narrating stories about life! We find theatrical forms in real life. We spent three weeks in the Dionysus Theater beneath the Acropolis, fascinated by what was going on… It was like a performance, with the guards acting like directors: Each time the ‘actors’ did something wrong, the whistle would restore order.»