A lesson from Enlightenment on modern fundamentalism

It’s good subject matter for any contemporary theater production: America’s evangelists and their rigid morals on one extreme, terrorists and their methods on the other. The material is especially intriguing when these issues are addressed not through direct political expression but through the more subtle, indirect existentialism of humanity. But can something so current come across in a play written back in 1775, in «Miss Sara Sampson» by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, which has never been staged in Greece? Notos Theater (Amore) and director Yiannis Houvardas are willing to take it on. Working with Amalia Moutousi and Nikos Kouris (he collaborated with both actors in Racine’s «Berenice» last spring), he takes «Sara» from its German Enlightenment roots and replants it in the American heartland of the 21st century. Think of Lessing as Sam Shepard, with a little bit of Tennessee Williams thrown in. In the play, a father of extreme religious and moral beliefs keeps his daughter Sara (played by Maria Skoula) pure and chaste. She in turn is seduced by a man of very low morals (Nikos Kouris) – a gambler and womanizer with a child out of wedlock. The couple elopes and ends up at an inn in the middle of nowhere. Soon after, her father arrives (Yiannis Dalianis), along with one of his men (Costas Berikopoulos), notified by a cheap and ruthless woman (Amalia Moutousi), mother of the child. The innocent Sara finds herself caught between two entirely different and equally destructive worlds. «The play takes on existential dimensions, including political ones,» says Houvardas. «Today we all live trapped in the same system we created, an out-of-control system which is crushing us. This comes across heavily in the play, with complete destruction taking place at the very end. It reminds me of the demolition derby car races in America: impeccable automobiles which they throw into a mud arena and then one on top of the other. In the end, the winner is the is one still standing, amid a shapeless pile of metal.» Amore Theater – Main Stage, 10 Prigiponisson Street, Polygono, tel 210.646.8009.

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