Ten Commandments explored

Promising yet another interesting season, the National Theater’s Experimental Stage will present 10 works by as many directors on the Ten Commandments, beginning next month through May of next year. The theater group, which has been based at the Apo Michanis Theater over the past year while renovation work continues at its home base, will also present an additional four projects besides the biblical-related plays. The Experimental Stage, using two stages at its temporary home, the Upper Stage and Lower Stage, kicks off its new season on October 13. The Upper Stage will host «The Ten Commandments.» The Lower Stage begins its season with repeats of two plays performed last season, Bruce Myers’s «A Dybbuk for Two Actors,» directed by Sotiris Hadzakis with Despina Kourti and Dimitris Papanikolaou as cast members, and Moliere’s «Tartuffe,» in its original Greek translation dating back to 1815. Both Lower Stage plays will be performed alternately until Christmas. Next on at the Lower Stage, beginning January 6 of the new year, will be «Thanatos Thanaton,» a composition of writings drawn from works by Vassilis Ziogas. Directing will be Nikos Mastorakis, while the production’s cast includes Maria Kehagioglou, Yiannos Perlegas, Despina Papazoglou, Nikos Alexiou, Dimitris Koutouvideas, Christos Nastos, Dimitris Liolios, Tina Thliveri and Nicoletta Vlavianou. Dostoyevsky’s «The Idiot,» directed by Stathis Livathinos, the head figure at the National Theater’s Experimental Stage, begins on February 10. It will share the stage with «Thanatos Thanaton» as part of an alternating program. The Experimental Theater’s core group of actors, as well as new arrivals, are in the cast of Livathinos’s forthcoming project. The team comprises Dimitris Imellos, Nikos Kardonis, Stathis Grapsas, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Vassilis Andreou, Stratos Siopylis, Petros Georkatzis, Dimitris Mylonas, Stelios Iakovidis, Dimitris Mothoneos, Despina Kourti, Maria Savvidou, Eleni Rousinou, Sofia Tsinari, Maria Kitsou, Kanellina Menouti and Alexandra Aidini. «This play by Dostoevsky had been on my mind for a while,» said Livathinos, while noting the work’s «multidimensional interest generated in the play by such a difficult and multifaceted writer, who, as he, himself, noted, thought theatrically but wrote novels.» Livathinos does not intend to stage «The Idiot» based on the theatrical adaptations of the novel, as has been the case both in Greece and abroad. «I’m not interested in that. We begin from the novel itself and aim to communicate through this. That’s where our version of it comes from – in other words, a first theatrical reading, because, most likely, there will be a second part,» said Livathinos. «We began rehearsals early in August. The National Theater’s director, Nikos Kourkoulos, gave us the opportunity to prepare all the way through to the production’s premiere, which is an essential thing for me at this stage in my life, as well as for that of the Experimental Stage’s entire team. It’s no longer a young team but one of tried and tested actors…» The version of «The Idiot» to be staged is that translated by Aris Alexandrou. At the Upper Stage, the «Ten Commandments» series will begin on October 13 and run through June. Each performance, based on one of the Commandments, will run an hour. The 10 directors involved in the series are all renowned and seasoned. On board are Mayia Lyberopoulou, Constantinos Arvanitakis, Victor Ardittis, Vassilis Nikolaidis, as well as the actress Mania Papadimitriou and the composer Theodoris Abatzis, both of whom have also been active as directors in more recent years. The list also includes newcomers Vicky Georgiadou, Stratis Panourios, Lea Maleni and Katerina Evangelatou, who makes her debut with her contribution to the «Ten Commandments» series. «This cooperation is a joy and I think it will enrich us all,» said Livathinos. «The idea was to put together various generations of directors and offer them the opportunity to explore and experiment with one single theme – one of each of the Ten Commandments. We didn’t provide them with any text, nor did we set limits. They’re entirely free to dare, select or even create their own texts, even bring in a writer to write during rehearsals. All is permitted. They only thing they can’t do is bring in an existing play to baptize… That’s not part of the plan. The objective is for them to create their own script during rehearsals, even if it ends up being all silent and turns into a production without a script. It could be dance theater, or in Finnish, for that matter. That’s the only condition I set,» explained Livathinos. «They can work freely with their actors and try anything they like, the way they’d like to. They’ve been given plenty of time to prepare.» Interestingly, all 10 directors are working with the same team of 10 young actors, all of whom were specifically chosen for the «The Ten Commandments.» They are: Natalia Stylianou, Sophiana Theofanous, Lambrini Angelidou, Lena Papaligoura, Maria Parasyri, Sotiris Tsakomidis, Lefteris Tambakakis, Paris Lykos, Ilias Kounelas and Panayiotis Larkou. «It was a special type of selection process, one that was unprecedented at our theater. We made selections through collective auditions – the 10 directors and myself – because these 10 actors will be shared by all… We’re talking about actors-commandoes. They’ll be both performing and rehearsing throughout the season. Two days after each premiere, they’ll be beginning rehearsals for the next installment of «The Ten Commandments» series. «It’s going to be an incredible winter, a major experience, but a tiring one, too. Which is why we tested them hard before selecting.»