Revelation through interrogation

The parents of a young man accused of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl find they have much greater demons to deal with than proving their son’s innocence in American playwright Joyce Carol Oates’s «Tone Clusters»: They realize that deep down they don’t really know their son at all, nor even themselves for that matter. The drama opened recently on the small stage of Xenia Kalogeropoulou’s Porta Theater, in a production directed by Nikos Hadzopoulos and starring Yvonni Maltezou and Costas Triandafyllopoulos as the parents. Kalogeropoulou chose the play and the director, who is mostly known as an actor and has recently distinguished himself in the fields of translation and theater direction. (He translated and directed the magnificent production of Shakespeare’s «King John» at the Amore Theater recently.) «Because of the way this play is written, staging it requires the use of electronic effects, meaning a video and a camera to transmit an image live on a monitor. That happens simultaneously with the actors’ interpretation – I saw that as an interesting challenge,» said the director. «Of course, the very topic and the text, the everyday language that is very fragmentary, made it very interesting to work with the actors.» The audience sees the parents of the accused man facing a television interviewer. We do not see the interviewer himself, we can only hear his questions. In contrast, we see the parents’ faces enlarged on a giant screen, while the video often shows scenes from the event, evidence, documents and more. «The questions they are posed make them very uncomfortable,» said Hadzopoulos. «All they are really interested in is proving their son’s innocence, but the process of interrogation reveals their deep ignorance, which is also the play’s main theme. It is about how ignorant we are of the people right next to us, our own people. In effect, it is about the ignorance we have concerning ourselves. These people, having become used to manufactured ways of life, believe that their lives follow the rules and don’t see what is truly happening. That is why they have such a hard time seeing things objectively; they can’t even accept the evidence presented to them. They almost refuse to see it. That is, until they become divided in the end, because they are forced to see their lives under a new light – and in a way that they don’t recognize themselves. Or they don’t recognize what they thought they were.» «This all happens in front of a television camera: the means that transforms every emotionally charged moment into something commercial,» added the director. That, naturally, heaped greater difficulties on both the actors and the director. «The actors are always sitting down, they are almost immobile, while every expression on their faces is enlarged on the screen and there is also the video with the evidence. All of that has to be connected and the action has to be combined with the images, but it also has to bring out the internal action, the procedure that makes these people now see their lives in a new light…» The play was also translated by Hadzopoulos. The sets and costumes are by Margarita Hadziioannou, with music by Costas Andreou, lighting by Lefteris Papadopoulos and video production by Panayiotis Fafoutis. Porta Theater, 59 Mesogeion Avenue, tel 210.771.1333.