New play for children at Porta Theater

He young hero of this play is not once seen on stage. The children in the audience, however, know just what he is thinking, what he is afraid of and what worries him on one February night as he tosses and turns in bed, because there are three actresses on stage acting out his every thought. The play is «One Night in February,» by Sweden’s Staffan Gothe, and it is being staged in Greek at the Porta Theater, heralding the new season for Xenia Kalogeropoulou’s theater. Aimed at children aged 5 to 8 but offering a pleasurable time for adults too, the charming one-hour play will be staged Saturdays and Sundays for the public and weekdays for school groups until late October at the smaller of the two theaters in the venue. «It is a play that has been staged extensively in Sweden, mostly at schools, and in many other countries as well,» said the young director of the play, Vassilis Mavrogeorgiou – another find of Kalogeropoulou’s which proves how well tuned she is into new and fresh things for her theater. Mavrogeorgiou, a playwright, actor and director, is not new to the Porta, since last year he played in two of the theater’s productions. As an independent artist he has already wowed the capital’s young (20-30s) theater crowd with «Cockroach,» a play he wrote, directed and acted in at the popular Theatro tou Notou, which will feature the production on its bill again this year (from October 1 to January). What does the artist want to do more? «I have no idea,» he admits. «It’s a blessing. I feel very fortunate and happy to be able to work in the theater on so many levels, but I’ve never felt that I had to make a choice. One thing led to another and it has never been clear where one ends and the other begins – I really enjoy this sequence.» In this directorial work at the Porta, Mavrogeorgiou relates the story of a young boy who accidentally broke his father’s favorite thermos while on a school trip and is tormented about how to break the news of his mischief. «Through the action of the girls who represent the boy’s thoughts,» explained Mavrogeorgiou, «we see what happened during the trip as well as several different versions of reality, which the boy wishes had occurred instead. We also see how the boy thinks his father will react to the news that his favorite thermos has been broken. The boy has all these thoughts in his head and he is sure that his father will punish him. As he processes it, though, he begins to think that maybe his father won’t punish him. And this thought – that things may work out differently – represents a step forward for the boy, a step toward maturity.» The concept of depicting the boy’s thoughts with the three fairies is an interesting directorial approach. «I like relating the story using the most strictly essential props; I don’t like too many frills,» explained Mavrogeorgiou. «What I wanted was to get that feeling we had when our grandparents used to tell us stories. When their simple narrative skill would take us to the best movie theater in the world, the one inside our own minds. This is the aim of our method; to excite the audience’s imagination by putting across the images as clearly as possible.» Working with an audience of children is especially difficult, admitted the director. «I was expecting the children to have some difficulty understanding the idea,» he confessed. «But I was stunned. The kids get it, even better than adults. The play really relates. The comments they make or the advice they give the young hero of the play show just how well they have grasped the whole thing.» The translation of the play has been done by Kalogeropoulou herself, the sets and costumes are designed by Margarita Hadziioannou, the music is by Costas Gakis, choreography is by Christos Papadopoulos and the lighting is by Lefteris Pavlopoulos. The three thought fairies are played by budding talent Anna Kalaitzidou, Katerina Mavrogeorgi and Maria Filini. Porta Theater, 59 Mesogeion Avenue. Box office tel 210.771.1333.