Franz Kafka, a la Marmarinos

For years now, the work conducted at the arty Thiseion Theater in Athens, a progressive venue whose methodical and organized work has benefited from Culture Ministry subsidies, has attracted a loyal following for its innovative and interesting productions – an opinion accepted even by those who don’t entirely agree with the ways of Michail Marmarinos, the theater’s director. Marmarinos’s work is personal, always political and, at times, odd for theatergoers with more conventional tastes. The play «Who is Mr Kellerman and Why is He Saying those Terrible Things about Me?» which opened recently, is based on Franz Kafka’s «The Castle.» Here in the director’s own words are what he has to say on: The production: «With some writers, it just happens that their material represents us precisely. That’s the case with ‘The Castle.’ The individual hired at the castle… goes through waves of bureaucracy to approach what is wanted. In his efforts to get into the castle, he meets with many people, which is what we focus on. There’s Olga, Frida, the hotelier and two assistants. They all unravel their own personal stories. You often think that they’re talking about you,» noted Marmarinos. «The play keeps a distance from what we call a Kafkaesque atmosphere, meaning dark and murky. It has neither of the two. It contains something horrible. What we call a ‘Kafkaesque atmosphere’ has been reduced to an ethnographic description. «A Kafkaesque atmosphere exists and we experience it on a daily basis, but not in such a visible way. It’s the atmosphere of television, reality shows, commercials – mechanisms and atmospheres that manage, for some reason, to be appealing and pull us in to them in a way that we think we can’t live without.» Its odd nature: «I can tell you that the performance is so odd that I can’t determine what kind of theater it is. It contains elements that make me wonder, ‘Now what’s that?’» Marmarinos points out: «I don’t look for a new style in my productions. The point is not to come up with something smart that leads to things, but what emerges out of need when you delve into a text. This produces certain forms which anybody can describe as they please.» He is involved in: «The International Theater Institute [an organization of theater professionals under the umbrella of Unesco]. The platform begins in full force this year, connecting Greek theater with theater abroad – a meeting of Greece’s drama production with people from abroad who come to our country. Last year’s trial run went well. Four of the eight plays presented were performed abroad.» The time issue: «I don’t have time. Biology, which I studied, hasn’t left me, nor have I abandoned the field. I take part in some research programs, there are the collaborations abroad, my family, lecturing at Thessaloniki University. These trips are always made by train. The trip itself comes as valuable free time. The trip along those railway tracks is captivating. I’m going to direct Aristophanes in Tbilisi, and the play «I Am Dying Like a Country» will be presented at festivals in Austria, Germany, France, and Belgium. Thiseion Theater, 7 Tournavitou St, Psyrri, tel 210.325.5444.