A tribute to poet Arthur Rimbaud

Arthur Rimbaud, the great poet who by the age of 20 had said what he had to say and burnt out too young, is currently making his presence felt at the unfinished building of the Greek National Theater. «Rainbow,» a performance directed by the National Theater’s Efi Theodorou, is currently on stage in an effort to recreate the spirit of the accursed poet. The show takes place in the former dance hall of the old building on Aghiou Constantinou St, which is still unfinished. «There is no stage, just a free space which will be adapted with the help of set designer Eva Manidaki, chairs for the audience and only a few props,» said the director recently. In a strange coincidence, Greek theater has chosen to honor Rimbaud’s poetry to some extent this year. This is the third Rimbaud-related performance to be staged so far. «Our show is different regarding its form and perspective,» said Theodorou. «There are equal references to both his work and his life. We didn’t so much stress ‘A Season in Hell,’ as the others did, but chose to highlight ‘Illuminations’ instead, in a new translation done by poet Stratis Paschalis especially for this performance. We also have a lot of music and songs, composed by Nikos Platanos, which are performed live by a four-member music ensemble and the 10 actors.» Theodorou explained that she chose Rimbaud because he is a symbol. «He is a very contemporary hero, a punk poet. He already fascinated me when I was young, back when I was studying in Paris and we presented a large part of his poetry set to music by Nikos (Platanias, her husband) at various events. Rimbaud was a sensational character. He was complex, daring and subversive. He discredited himself at every opportunity. His texts about the new poetry he was promoting and his letters demonstrate precisely this. Even his own poems, in which a final verse usually tears down everything built up by the preceding verses. It is only natural that all this is extremely interesting as material for the theater.» The performance consists of poems by Rimbaud, as well as extracts from letters and other sources, but also an excellent biography by Graham Robb, available in Greek by Mikri Arktos. «All of this along with melodized poems, make up a mixed open kind of performance which I have been working on for many months together with the daring and imaginative actors. It is a sort of free association process, we could say.» «There isn’t just one Rimbaud in the production, at some point they are all Rimbaud,» noted Theodorou. «We want to talk about the absolute freedom that this poet felt, about the never-ending challenge to go further than what he was and to constantly discredit himself. He was a man with wings on his feet, as Verlaine aptly said.» Greek National Theater Experimental Stage, 22 Aghiou Constantinou, tel 210.522.3242. For tickets: Rex Theater, 48 Panepistimiou, 210.330.5074, and Athens Contemporary Theater, 41 Evmolpidon, Gazi, tel 210.345.5020. To June 1.