A Norwegian director in Athens

The number of bank holidays in Greece is not the only thing that has impressed Norwegian theater director Eirik Stubo. During his short stay in Athens for the preparation and rehearsals for the Greek National Theater’s novel production of Henrik Ibsen’s «The Lady from the Sea,» Stubo has also been surprised by the miserable conditions of the surroundings of company’s Ziller Building. Nevertheless, he is making considerable efforts to comprehend the diversity he has come across in a city that he is visiting for the first time. The play opens at the Central Stage tomorrow, based on a translation by Margarita Melberg, with sets and costumes by Kari Gravklev, lighting by Lefteris Pavlopoulos and Nurmala Easty as assistant director. The cast includes Vassilis Andreou, Aris Lembesopoulos, Loukia Michalopoulou, Maria Nafpliotou, Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos, Alkistis Poulopoulos and Nikos Hatzopoulos. Stubo recently spoke to Kathimerini. What can Ibsen say to 21st-century audiences? He is the most-presented playwright, apart from Shakespeare. He is classic, because he is always contemporary, no matter what period we live in. His plays work on many levels. Depending on the country, they «speak» to their audiences about relevant issues. If «An Enemy of the People» goes on stage in India, for instance, it takes on a political dimension, in Germany, on the other hand, it’s mainly on a psychological level. What’s you personal take on «The Lady from the Sea»? It’s a very contemporary play, with a contemporary story, for Norway at least, given that 50 percent of Norwegian men already have two kids and a second, younger spouse. Ibsen is very concerned with marriage and the idea of a man and a woman living together and he wants to explore this because the entire procedure seems to him particularly difficult, almost impossible. In this case, the play begins with a couple who have a lot of distance between them; during the course of the play, however, they get to know each other. It’s a rather optimistic play. Do you feel that the institution of family is in crisis? Everything is up in the air when it comes to marriage and family nowadays. Homosexuals were not allowed to adopt children a few years ago. Now homosexual couples, men and women, choose to live together as a married couples and adopt children and there are more and more families who do not follow the traditional biological process. I believe all this will give birth to new plays, a new way of theater writing. The lead characters will no longer be Orestes killing his mother, Clytemnestra. Is it different working with Greek actors? There are no major differences between Greek and Scandinavian actors. Generally speaking, theater people speak the same language all over. There are some differences, not between the actors, but between the peoples – things that are a little bit cliche: For example, Scandinavians are more reserved, while Greeks are more extroverted. I can see these differences just walking the streets. On the way from the theater to my hotel in Omonia Square, people try to sell me drugs. So I can’t just stroll while I’m speaking on my mobile phone, I have to be careful. That is a strange feeling and could affect the theater perhaps. Do you mean in terms of the theater’s location or the company’s repertoire? It could affect the theater because, for people to get here, they need to have a certain will power. From what I see, however, performances are fully booked, so it has not been affected so far. I do think, however, that society always influences theater. Theater is life and it reflects life.

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