CULTURE

‘Greek by conduct,’ if not descent, Lorca celebrated again with new production

Greece may be one of the few countries which has staged the works of Federico Garcia Lorca more than 150 times. The Spanish poet is part of Greece’s local poetry, theater and music scene because Greek artists such as Nikos Gatsos, Odysseas Elytis and Manos Hadjidakis loved Lorca’s work. The latest Lorca work on stage is «The Love of Don Perlimplin,» a Municipal Regional Theater of Agrinion production that is currently on tour. The play is directed by Theodoris Gonis and stars Aris Lembessopoulos and the young Lena Papaligoura. The play was first staged in Greece in 1959 by the legendary director Karolos Koun, with Hadjidakis providing the score. Love for Lorca «My love for Lorca starts off with the songs that have been written for his work, especially by Hadjidakis, and I don’t think that this only applies to me,» said Gonis, who is also a well-known lyrics writer. «Nikos Gatsos’s involvement in Lorca’s texts was also crucial in spreading Lorca’s work locally. All of these factors made me want to stage this play, which is very poetic and clear but has many alternations of contradicting elements. It is lyrical yet grotesque, comic and tragic, innocent and demonic.» The plot – centered around an old man falling in love with a very young girl – is a common theme in folk tales and classic theater. Gonis says Lorca took the familiar drama and turned into something poetic. «He used the story to talk about the mysteries of love and death, which was, after all, the main motif in all of his work,» Gonis said. «The prevailing death element is something that exists in both the Spanish and Greek traditions,» he added. «I always have the suspicion deep inside that Lorca was Greek and I don’t know how much Gatsos is responsible for that, or if it is due to Lorca’s own behavior… He was daring, contradictory and feminine, meaning that he constantly ‘gave birth’ to things. He was childish, serious but also playful, light but actually a man of essence. I think Gatsos loved Lorca’s work for all these reasons. You are Greek by conduct, not descent.» Gonis describes the play as soft on the outside but very hard on the inside because Perlimplin discovers misery at the same time he finds love. «The two go together, but that is not negative; it is creative,» Gonis said. «Perlimplin, whose situation resembles a man holding a hand grenade with its pin pulled out, manages to make young Belisa love him, by dying. He was a very introverted man, living with his books, but he gradually became daring and imaginative, a real poet. The incredible power of love did that to him.» Gonis added that he used a minimalist approach to his mise-en-scene. The production uses the translation of Nikos Gatsos and features sets and costumes designed by Alexia Theodoraki. The lights are by Dimos Abdeliodis and Katerina Papageorgiou is movement coach, while other contributors include Agathi Dimitrouka, Kaiti Rovirou, Danae Tzima, Dorina Theoharidou and Artemis Flessa. Athens shows Halfway through its summer tour, the performance is currently in Athens and will be staged in Ilioupolis tomorrow, at Galatsi’s Veikou Park Theater on Sunday and at Petroupolis on September 5. The tour is expected to continue afterwards.