CULTURE

Collage, or theatrical process?

He was the first to introduce to us to a theatrical text that resulted from the work done by actors during rehearsals. With that production, titled «Romantismos,» in which he had his actors discuss their experiences, Michalis Marmarinos bade farewell to the Studio Ilissia before moving permanently to the Thiseion Theater. And this year, with «National Anthem» (Ethnikos ymnos), a play that emerged from an exhaustive process of rehearsals, he won over even the most cynical of theatergoers. This was a production which, for the three months it was performed in Corfu, Athens and Thessaloniki, filled the theaters and was appreciated for its bold and inventive approach that opened up the path for many others to do something similar. Now that «National Anthem» is traveling abroad, a new production by the Diplous Eros theater company has emerged to replace it. «Romeo and Juliet» premiered last Saturday at the Thiseion Theater on the stroke of midnight. Based on the same line of thinking, the new production was essentially a continuation of the previous one. The play’s first night however, was complemented by a reading of extracts from Shakespeare’s plays, a performance that «arose from the need of the actors to come into contact with the public as part of the production process, but also so that they can see how the public positions itself in relation to the theme of the play.» The audience was invited to watch moments from the play, as well as answer the questions that were posed by the actors Rena Andreadaki, Giorgos Valais, Vassilis Karaboulas, Electra Nikolouzi, Dimitra Papachristou, Angeliki Papoulia and Christos Passalis. The subject under discussion was love. The play was never allowed to get out of control. It was based on the well-known Shakespearean tale, but also on the newer one that emerged from the process of preparation. «There is an influence from ‘National Anthem,’ more as a mode of working,» admitted the director. This mechanism does indeed strike a chord with the audience, if we are to judge from the interest generated this year, and which has met similar productions. These productions might end up being over the top on occasion, but they still provide a fresh approach for Greek audiences. It would be accurate to say, then, that there was a new trend at the non-conventional theaters this year. Marmarinos has a title for this, «directing as dramaturgy.» Of interest to him are the situations which produce a text of significance; «the production of dramaturgy,» as he has termed it. No one knows to start with, of course, what will arise. «Naturally, there is a risk, as with every production.» What is sought is «the production of a demanding text. I wouldn’t want the process to produce texts that are just bridges and explanations.» When attempting to explain the success of «National Anthem,» he emphasized that «its structure had strict dramaturgical criteria, with elements of immediacy, of poetry. It wasn’t simply a collage of clippings.» He accepted the notion that this production set the trend for the rest of the year. «But every theatrical year has its trend. I did, of course, see some other productions with a similar direction.» Yet even the imitators are of interest to him. «Not just for the process, but for another reason. Because as a mechanism it has the ability to incorporate contemporary history. The history that influences us and which in some way could be useful for the theater.» And if the audience sees this collectivity as a kind of anarchic emotionalism, then that is all the more reason for this kind of theater to be well organized from start to finish. «It has a musical precision,» noted the director. «What is of interest for me with this way of doing things is that it opens a window onto the here and now, so that it can influence the theater, and so that the theater can be wounded by history, that is to say.» At Technohoros Just recently, Technohoros, with Petros Sevastikoglou at the helm, offered its own version with the production «Not Just for Play» (Ochi mono gia paichnidi). This collective work by the Theama company «arose not during the rehearsals, but before them, at a kind of workshop,» as the director said at the time. The initial goal was to stitch together scenes from Shakespeare. They were led, however, to creating a text of their own. The four actors and the director took ideas from other writers as well (e.g. Cornway, Pinter, Beckett) and based all this on the erotic discourse of Shakespeare. «We would meet daily for two months and write for seven or eight hours.» Something similar happened with «Please Kill Me» by the Prospecta company at Club 22, directed by Giorgos Kakanakis. The text was based on the experiences of young people today, and was developed and took its final form during the rehearsals. The Amore Theater also presented its own positions. Here Yiannis Houvardas set up a production using a fine novella as the raw material, for a performance based on the personal experiences of the actors. There were, of course, many other stages and many directors. Is it collage, or is it theatrical process? And what is it that makes theater companies turn toward such a type of direction? «The search for new plays,» was Petros Sevastikoglou’s response. He had already tried something similar three years ago at the Experimental Stage of the National Theater, with «Island of the Immigrants» (Nisi ton metanaston). «It is not just the process that is interesting, but also the fact that through it we can get our personal experiences across.» And this might well be the main attraction for their primarily young audience.