The multiple “bodies” of the second edition of Dimitria’s showcase 2019
The Greek showcase, introduced last year for the first time, moves on, against all odds, to its second edition with passion and determination. We strongly believe that running this platform is not a matter of choice but of necessity. It had to be done. The total absence of repertory philosophy from Greek theatre practice has, in more ways than one, kept it at the margins of European theatre, in the sense that it has not helped its international visibility and exposure. Unlike many other theatres in Europe and around the world, its productions are not stored. Once they run their programmed course they disappear from view, never to be recovered again. Suffice to say that Athens alone averages close to 1300 productions a year. Probably more annual productions than any other theatre city in Europe∙ and yet, very few, if any, from the international theatre community know what is going on there.
With the creation of this platform, Dimitria Festival offers the opportunity to local artists to present their work to invited artistic directors of festivals, curators and critics. For five days the guests of this second edition as well as the general public have the chance to watch nine very fresh, inviting and challenging productions raging from cyper punk musical theatre to docu drama and physical theatre, signed by eight talented (as well as very different) directors (five women and three men), each with a keen interest on the postmodern body and its various manifestations. In all nine productions the bodies acquire visibility by taking center stage, thus making the very stage itself a topos of revelation, a kind of heterotopia as a counter site to society.
This dual sense of the theatre being at once “an other” space and the space of “others” is strongly felt in the performance The Fan-man or How to Dress an Elephant, by the ensemble En Dynamei whose core theme focuses on the disabled body. How do we look at it? By embracing the deviant, does the performance succeed in rendering it more familiar and intimate?
These are questions also tackled in Herculine Barbin, the first text in history written by a hermaphrodite. Herculine, an emblematic figure of the intersex movement today, during his/her short life desperately struggled to understand and handle the “otherness” of his/her sexual desire. Unable to survive the pressure exercised by society s/he committed suicide at the age of thirty.
The image of the subdued body on the one hand and the domineering body on the other runs through the revisited Greek myth of Phaethon (by Ars Moriendi) in the play of Greece’s leading playwright Dimitris Dimitriadis. A tyrannical pater familias harasses the members of his family in every possible way. Constantly alluding to the Holy Scripture, he sanctifies his sick being and practice, presenting himself as the mandatory of a divine task he is asked to carry through.
The body’s interaction with technology is the focus of Persona, (by the ensemble Plefsis), a multimedia performance inspired by the work of American poet John Ashbery. While exploring the interrelationships of various art forms it also raises questions like: What is behind a portrait? How do I look at the other? What is my deepest need for exposure?
Strange Tales is another multimedia storytelling on stage based on Edgar Alan Poe’s short stories, poems and letters. Devices that produce sound, light and video, give the atmosphere of an audiovisual laboratory and create an organic environment for the spectators, a kind of “third space”. .
The award-winning Revolt Athens by the avant-garde group ODC also explores and exploits the potential of technology and live performance. Combining actors, video footage and music, the performance is a multi-faceted window into the living and breathing reality of a place/cityscape (Athens).
The Cave, the second show by the ensemble ODC, is a cyper punk music theatre performance inspired by Plato’s famous “Cave” allegory, where shadow puppetry, new media, visuals and music are all performed in real time by a cast of five. The cave reveals how the two-dimensional vision of a three-dimensional life translates in today’s realities in misconceptions that we may have regarding what’s going on, as for example in the domains of politics, of society and of course ethics.
Amarynthos is a docu drama whose case is based on a true incident that happened few years ago in the Greek provincial town of Amarynthos. A 15-year-old Bulgarian immigrant appeared at the local police station to report that she had been gang-raped by four of her classmates in the toilets of their high school, while three schoolgirls were allegedly recording the incident on their mobile phones. Built on extensive archive research and ethnographic fieldwork, Amarynthos sheds light to the mechanisms of truth fabrication and justice, while examining the ways in which public opinion, the media and the local community responded to the case, taking into account the sex, ethnic background, and social class of the victim.
In the dance piece Half the Truth (by Rootlessroot company) the two performers show their belief that the human body has the power to express emotion. The body is not afraid to feel, to perform and to risk. The substance of this performance is the Body we do not know.
All these spectacles carry, each in its own way, an emancipatory promise, in the sense that they provoke destabilizing moments of self-perception and perception of the other.