CULTURE

Ignorance and all that it entails

A distinctive figure among the country’s contemporary playwrights, Vassilis Katsikonouris has been fortunate enough to get respectable productions for the three plays he has delivered so far. One of these, the much-discussed «Gala» (Milk), was restaged by Anna Vagena’s company once the production had ended its initial two-season run at the National Theater. Katsikonouris has returned with a new play, «Oi agnooumenoi» (The Missing, An Interesting Life), now on at the Roes Theater with Dimosthenis Papadopoulos, a very fine actor, directing – a field in which he also excels. Hailing from Kilkis, northern Greece, and raised in the capital, Katsikonouris, who teaches English at high-school level, has experienced change in his life as a result of his involvement in theater. A two-natured figure, especially since the success of his plays, play-writing has now cemented its place in Katsikonouris’s life. Katsikonouris’s new play, «The Missing» was completed before «Gala» first hit the stage in February, 2005. And the prolific trend continues. Katsikonouris has just completed writing a new play, titled «Pire ti zoi tis sta heria tis» (She Assumed Responsibility for Her Own Life), which will be staged when conditions are ripe, noted Katsikonouris in an interview with Kathimerini. «I want to have the luxury of staging my plays the way I want to, not just whenever or wherever the chance arises,» said Katsikonouris. In «The Missing,» the plot is based on a young couple, an up-and-coming journalist and his postgraduate studies partner, at the point of accumulating one degree after another with plans for an academic career. The pair enjoy a harmonious and interesting life together until the girl’s sister arrives from the siblings’ native Cyprus to take part in a rally for the island’s missing war refugees. The visiting sister’s presence makes an impact on the couple, and once she is gone, the lives of the young and successful pair change drastically. «As is the case in ‘Gala,’ the theme is not the pain felt by migrants, but love and the desire for love,» said the playwright. «The story here is not about the missing persons… but ignorance and whatever is associated with it, such as the fear of knowing, the fear of learning about ourselves above all. And that’s why we limit ourselves to a mere strip of knowledge about ourselves and our lives. We stop there, like someone who’s afraid to go further because the room is in total darkness. Katsikonouris said his interest in the subject of the missing Greek-Cypriot refugees was given «a significant boost because the unraveling of the matter was not even included as a footnote in the EU membership conditions for Turkey.» «The Missing» serves as a theatrical vehicle that «leads people to certain thoughts concerning who the missing people actually are,» said Katsikonouris. «That is, could we be them, on an existential level, because the matter pertains to what is going on around us today.» The playwright, responding to a question, said the common use in the plot of a person-catalyst held no fears for him. «The issue of memory is so enormous in literature that even if there is such a person who comes along and throws a pebble into the lake, if you handle it properly, something else always emerges. Not in terms of originality, but as something that helps you get to the essence of things,» said Katsikonouris. The playwright said that assigning the journalist’s role to his play’s male character suited his intentions for the play. «When you orchestrate a clash between two powers that respectively stand for a type of pseudo-life and drive for the truth, the role of a successful journalist, today, works well in drama as a representative of the power of lies – those who serve the present and neglect the parameters of real life,» said Katsikonouris. «Having said that, this, of course, is not the right time to offer a definition for a successful journalist.» Katsikonouris acknowledged that, as in his previous plays, «The Missing» contains poetic flights of fancy. «Yes, I think these kind of things occur in this play as well, even though it was not intentional. I think that I’m unable to write a play that’s entirely realistic,» he said, while adding that he was satisfied by the way it is being presented on stage. «On the one hand, the production is based on [the director] Papadopoulos’s modernist genius – he’s extraordinary – and on the other, on the individuality of the actors. I stress the cast’s individuality because these three young actors (Vangelis Rokkos, Eva Kotanidi, Natalia Capodistria) are the play’s figures. I feel certain there will be a good result.» Roes Theater, 16 Iakchou, Gazi, tel 210.347.4312.