NEWS

Eilissos

I walked up the stairs of the old house on Vouliagmenis Avenue, without really knowing what I was going to or why I had chosen to go there on a Saturday evening. I was the novice; my friends were initiates. I bought a ticket for 15 euros and entered the hallway. Beyond what might have been a dining room or a bedroom was the smoking area. Wine in carafes was offered free of charge. In another room was the dressing room and wardrobe. We were already a large group, a bit embarrassed, as if we’d been invited to a party where we didn’t know anybody. «Come in.» Apart from being the artistic director of the space, Vassilis Kritikos is also partly the host. He had obviously realized that I was trying to get my bearings and he showed me the main room. That’s where the performance was to take place. It was a middle-class sitting room, with a dining table, heavy chairs, and one wall bare for screenings.. «It was my grandmother’s house,» whispered the hostess discreetly, working skillfully to make everything go right. We chose our seats, took our wine with us, and sat waiting, as if for the lights to go down. There was a sense of improvisation but also of an eagerness for something new. The audience arrived. I counted 30-35 people, aged from 20s to 50s, holding their breath, knees almost touching. It was slightly narrower than a doctor’s waiting room, except there was a kind of magic in the air. With the spectators in a circle, nobody could block your view. There was no stage, so where would the actors perform? Premiere and stage fright We had come to see a one-hour production of a play with the strange title of «Yi-aftous pou varethikan na anapneoun ap’to stoma» (For Those Who Are Fed up with Breathing through Their Mouth). It was the first night and stage fright was evident on all sides. You wanted everything to go well because you, the spectator, were part of what was happening. There were just two actors, Nikos Kyriakidis, who is also the author, and Eftychia Livaniou. We felt like voyeurs, playing non-speaking parts. Sharp, clever, torrential at times and humorous, luckily, the text carried you along with it in that old room, in a forgotten house on the corner of Aglaonikis Street, one Saturday in winter in the vast sea of Athens. Something is going on at Eilissos, which some of our readers had alerted us to. Like a pocket theater, a drawer full of memories, it opens and closes to house actors, baritones and sopranos; to show old, hard-to-find films, and to tell us that anyone who wants to can add life and color to the standardized entertainment scene. Something tells me I’ll be going back. Eilissos, 3 Aglaonikis Street & 40 Vouliagmenis Avenue.