CULTURE

National Theater stages play inspired by Austrian kidnapping

Written by a Greek playwright, a play based on the recent Natascha Kampusch case that shook Europe, opened recently in Athens. Respected actor Yiannis Mavritsakis wrote the play, which is inspired by the abduction of the young girl by a man when she was 10 and her imprisonment in a basement cellar for eight years. Mavritsakis may have decided he was through with acting, but he is still involved with theater; last year he successfully presented his first play, «To tiflo simeio» (The Blind Spot), at the Poreia Theater. Translated, the play recently received a distinction in France and was also presented at a reading in Paris, at the opening of the Paris Autumn Festival at the Odeon, alongside other unstaged European works directed by the Odeon’s director Olivier Py. Mavritsakis’s second play, «Wolfgang,» is being staged at the National Theater’s New Theater, directed by Katerina Evangelatou. «The play starts off from this event, but it is not just a narration,» said Mavritsakis. «For me, it was a picture of the world. It was a vehicle that allowed me to talk about other things, mostly about the fear of our way of life today, the fear of others, our inability to handle other people’s freedom, the fear of betrayal, abandonment and loneliness. Ultimately, it is the fear of love.» All of the characters are scared. «It is not just the victims, but also those who impose violence, such as Wolfgang (played by Vassilis Andreou), Natascha’s (Loukia Michalopoulou) kidnapper, or the Ghost of his Father (Manos Vakoussis), who terrorizes the son. Wolfgang is also scared of his inability to handle his relationship with women (his wife is played by Serafita Grigoriadou), because he cannot accept that other people are also free, independent beings.» According to the playwright, this is the reason why Wolfgang kidnapped and imprisoned a little girl. «He believes that if he brings her up himself, she will be his forever. It is the extreme version of what we imagine love to be: that we own our partner forever. We are unable to understand that they have their own desires, their fantasies and their needs, which is something that torments us.» «At first I had my doubts as to whether I should write about something so recent. But I wanted to do it so much that I overcame my hesitation. What motivated me was that, although this is an extreme and hideous event, it reveals some level of conscience. It could be way that he killed himself, by falling on the train tracks the evening that she escaped, not because he was afraid of jail but because he felt that once she had left his life was over or the way he was taunted or the fact that only his mother attended his funeral. It was an image that stayed with me.» Mavritsakis is happy with Evangelatou’s direction and the entire staging. «The sets (by Constantinos Zamanis) represent an internal place, inside the brain. But it is not like a prison cell, I didn’t want that either. I set the play in Wolfgang’s garden, not a real garden but something introverted, with dust underneath because he keeps digging and digging…»