A tapestry of folk songs

For her latest work, director and musician Mirka Yemetzaki was inspired by folk culture – funeral songs, lullabies and fairy tales – which she then wove into a story by Alexandros Papadiamantis. Rinio Kyriazi, her student since 1997, gives a brilliant performance in «The Departing Daughter,» playing at the Neos Cosmos Theater until May 30. Musician Thomas Lolis enters the stage with his whiny yet proud clarinet and as the lights flicker and eventually go out, Kyriazi sings a lullaby. Always keeping to Papadiamantis’s story, she sings fairy tales, lullabies, dirges and wedding songs. «Dirges and lullabies all stem from the same thing, and what connects them is emotion. Dirges are both sweet and sad,» said Yemetzaki. The humble fairy tales, which are the result of anonymous collective creation, speak of birth, love, death and the cycle of life. «The performance’s two fairy tales are about a mother who loses her child. She does not have a husband; she is alone and there is nothing she can do. We recognized the similarities with Papadiamantis’s story,» added Kyriazi. In the past, Kyriazi has narrated stories by Emmanouil Roidis and Dimitrios Vikelas, while Yemetzaki has worked on texts by Giorgos Vizyinos and Papadiamantis’s «Murderess.» «I’ll do Papadiamantis again. He makes us feel the language. Young people are unlucky, they all write and read without using the accent marks [used in old Greek]. Papadiamantis is musical, like Aeschylus. When reading their texts, one feels the difference between the consonants and the vowels.» «Let’s just say that an actor’s identification with a role is his own. You need to let the text enter you, understand it and then see how you can lend your body to the text,» added Yemetzaki. They were successful with Papadiamantis’s text and Kyriazi realized it: «Once the text is inside me, alternating the roles happens naturally. I don’t stop to think before changing roles.» The exploration of voice and body is another key element in the performance. «Babies communicate with their screams. The ancient Greeks were the first to conceive the importance of that,» said Yemetzaki. Neos Cosmos Theater, 7 Antisthenous & Tharipou, Neos Cosmos, tel 210.921.2900.