Category Archives: Theatre Architecture

Merida and Flamenco

imageimageI have still to determine whether it is more expedient to get to Merida from Lisbon or Madrid but the Lisbon experience certainly is a good one, so maybe I’ve answered my own question.

By road the trip took some 4 hours, arriving in Merida in the close down period in the heat of the day. It is a terrific city stemming from its Roman origins in 2AD when Augustus gifted it to his army and proceeded to build a wonderful monument to himself. The colosseum and other ruins, including of course, the Roman Amiptheatre are extraordinary and well worth a once in a life time pilgrimage to see a show here. image

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The Merida Parador, with its own collection of Roman artefacts recovered from the site and now decorating the garden, is a part of the unique accommodation chain throughout Spain that has converted historic buildings into the most wonderful guest experiences. History, art, architecture and high local cuisine all come together with impeccable hospitality.

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With only one night in Merida and making sure I was on the only train to Almagro early next day, my main focus was the performance.

Part of the Classical Theatre Festival of Merida, this show had only two performances, and when playing to a 5000 people full house, you probably don’t need more than that.

image This Flamenco artist, Sara Baras is internationally renown for her choreography and originality. When visiting the theatre in the afternoon, I was there for some of the band sound check and quite an impressive band it was, 6 pieces including three flamenco acoustic guitars, cello, two percussionists and synth.

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Medusa is a gory tale of the beautiful gorgon with snakes for hair and the ability to turn people to stone if they gaze upon her.
Perseus pursues her and to avoid her gaze, he is given a mirror shield by Athena, winged sandals by Hermes, a sword from Hephaestus and Hades helmet of invisability. He uses the mirrored shield to reflect Medusa’s image and then cut off her head. Ultimately the head and the shield depicting her head are gifted to Athena. It is believed to be an evil- deflecting device.
Apparently at that time, Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon and when Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus, a winged horse, and Chrysaor, a golden sword-wielding giant, sprang from her body.
That there is so much written about Medusa from mythology, psychology, the feminist movement, etc just illustrates the mystique and intrigue about this character and of course her image shows up again and again, particularly in connection with Ancient Rome.

And so to the performance. At 10 pm I joined the eagerness of the 5000 queuing to get into the ampitheatre for the 11.45 show on this deliciously balmy full moon night. Having an allocated seat helped enormously and suddenly there she was in a swathe of swirling white, with her husband, Jose Serrano playing Perseus.

I’m not quite convinced about the story telling technique, with a non dancer narrator wandering through the set at pertinent times, but the flamenco element was all consuming with the highly vocal, highly appreciative audience breaking the moments with their applause and bravos.
The encore was as stylish as the rest of the performance with each of the main dancers doing a routine.
I love flamenco. I love the expertise developed over years and years of training and I love the arrogance of the dancers which seems to say, ‘take that!’ And the audience howls their appreciation and along with them was hugely appreciative Aussie.
At 1am I made my way back through the equally excited sporting fans of Merida because Germany was playing Argentina. That excitement continued in the streets until sunrise at 6am. What a lively night, Ole!

 

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Theatre and Space

Theatre and space traverse the distance of the everyday.

Thinking on the nature of the theatre space and its’ impact on performance and the audience, in the first instance I always look for the beauty. Beauty feeds the soul. It is colour and form and tone and gesture. It is inherent in the grand gesture of nature as in grand opera that stirs the emotions with its opening phrases or in the vast landscapes of a Tolstoy novel. In their profound wisdom, the ancient Greeks combined nature and landscape within the theatre space and with the added exertion of making the pilgrimage to the sacred site, theatre lovers would enter the liminal. Whatever happened after that, by way of performance, was duty-bound to traverse the distance of the everyday. To transport the audience to places, emotions, rarely encountered.
Historically theatre architecture preceded that of cathedrals and yet the evocation of awe is the same. Two great monuments to art that have been featured on television recently, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia and the Sydney Opera House, both provide me with that sense of the liminal, of entering alternative space, a place where I may be transmuted from the cares of the everyday, a place where I engage with other or the sublime. After all isn’t that the reason we go to a Cathedral or to a theatre? But let’s stick with theatre just now because I’ve had some really interesting theatre space experiences recently.
Over drinks my dear theatre friend, David Adamson, commented on my European theatre travels and suggested that it was the drama of the theatre spaces that contributed to the richness of the experience. And indeed on reflection that is so. The Epidavros Ampitheatre, the open-air Corral in Almagro, the medieval Teatro Francesco Torti in Bevagna, a village near Spoleto, and even the factory site spaces in Athens mightily contributed to the tenor of the theatre works.
In my thesis From Ancient Greece to Glenrowan etc, I included the element of place but my attention to the space was more directed to our cleverness in converting a community hall into a theatre space. However, the conversion was intentional in creating a sense of the liminal and with great dollops of creativity and volunteer man power, the transformation was affected. Great design work by Peter Mumford.
And this brings me to two of my recent theatre space experiences. Room of Regret based on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (devised and directed by Emma Valente) was an offering of The Melbourne Festival. Staged at Theatreworks in St.Kilda, the space was converted into a labyrinth of small rooms into which the audience members, veiled in curtain fabric, were ushered and instructed to sit upon the waiting stools. Actors appeared somewhat randomly in the small rooms and did beautiful work. They were truly beautiful in their posture, gesture, vocal delivery and ecstatic eroticism, but for me, the space defeated the majesty of the production. Hidden away in a corner, veiled, and deposited on a stool except when I was invited to dance in an orgiastic sequence, there was no sense of space. No opportunity to connect with or truly experience the wonder of the grandeur of gesture or tone and while I can appreciate the notion of closed Victorian spaces and what goes on behind veil curtains, my sense of wonder was replaced by a sense of frustration, irritation and audience abuse. In my reflection, I wonder if the piece would have been more suited to in-the-round or traverse staging where the audience could also have the ‘in your face’ experience the direction mandated. Sadly, for me, this production was unable to traverse the distance of the everyday.
A more successful use of space was the National Theatre’s Macbeth. Once again I made the pilgrimage to the Nova, Carlton to see the HD relay of Kenneth Brannagh’s production.
Expecting a traditional production, imagine my surprise when I discovered it to be in a disused church in Manchester. The nave was transformed into a traverse setting with the sanctuary, a highly appropriate playing area. The balconies, and even the windows, are used to great effect from whence the Witches, Banquo’s ghost and Lady Macbeth deliver their immortal passages.
But back to the traverse, which resembles a muddy racetrack, imagine the audience involvement being adjacent to the numerous real sword wielding battles, the first of which takes place in rain! Yes the turf did become a quagmire and yes the actors strutted through the muck, died in the muck and lied in the muck. This was theatre space from heaven…pardon the intended pun. And although I was only a cinema viewer, I was there in the muck and in the awe of the liminal. If only I’d been there in person. A wonderful experience indeed, where theatre and space did traverse the distance of the everyday.

Autopsy of a Dream

<blockquote><p><a href=”https://twitter.com/abciview”>@abciview</a&gt; this is a marvellous programme thank god the footage was found and that the sydney opera house exists.</p>&mdash; brenda addie (@theatretravel) <a href=”https://twitter.com/theatretravel/statuses/392286528740679680″>October 21, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Almagro Day 5

SEE THE WORLD AND SEE WORLD THEATRE

Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre, Almagroff, Historia del Loco Cardenio by Shakespeare y Fletcher, Quevado at The Corral de Comedias, Golden Age of Spanish Theatre

This was the last day of the workshop and I’ve attached some photos of the class, some of the group at lunch, and our feet under the table. It was a marvellous experience for me and to meet and go to theatre with Vincente Fuentes was a very special privilege. I would love to bring him to Australia to do a workshop on verse and his method of teaching voice…who knows?

Before I went to the theatre, I went to a beautiful exhibition devoted to the development of theatre scenery and Lantern shows. The history and artistry involved in creating the images for projection was fascinating and the exhibits made me aware of the craftsmanship involved in creating these exceedingly detailed, highly coloured miniatures which ranged from children’s stories and nature to mythological and religious subject matter. In addition to see models of sets for theatre and opera productions in Madrid from the 18c really excited me. Once again, it puts the craft of theatre into context and the respect that Spain accords to its theatre tradition. Sadly there were no photos allowed, but I gather that this was a travelling exhibition from Madrid and there was also a documentary about famous actors and their equally famous costumes which certainly came well into the 20c. Truly, as the Almagro Festival had so much to see apart from the theatre productions, it was very hard to find sufficient time to do it all and I’m really sorry I didn’t get to see any of the children’s theatre, Barroco Infantil. I did however meet the Festival Director, Natalia Menendez, and was able to express to her how her title for the festival, The Colour of the Classics, and her warm introduction to the programme had enticed me to make the journey from Melbourne. I believe the classics are the soul of theatre and my coming to terms with classics from another culture has been a very rewarding experience.

Historia del loco Cardenio at Teatro La Veleta was another valuable experience in introducing me to the existence of a play by Shakespeare and Fletcher about the Story of the Cardenio in Don Quixote. Vincente told me the text is wonderful and so I will make a point of discovering this for myself when I get home. My google research indicates that this is one of those plays around which scholars are divided about the authorship.

At 10.30 pm the Plaza Mayor was buzzing. As people were queuing to get into the Corral de Comedias, a fire twirler was attracting much attention while at the other end of the square an artisan market was selling everything from pickled delicacies, finely crafted ceramics, glove puppets, jewellry, children’s clothing and a spruiker was announcing the beginning of his puppet show.

As the crowd swelled we surged into the Corral with the canvas puled back to reveal the full moon and to allow some breeze into the stifling night. The crowd was so excited and so was I. And I too, had become accustomed to taking a fan with me to see a show!
Quevedo was not a show I especially wanted to see, but I did want to see the Corral in action. Of course it was completely full. The play took a cultural tourism look at Quevado’s work and I got a sense that it was dealing with notions of justice and reason. He too, had been a most prolific writer and raised issues about theology and justice. A rather tricky thing to do during the period of the Inquisition.
Francisco de Quevedo – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_de_Quevedo
The play was a 3 hander with a tourist guide cum nun setting the story and then Quevado and another nun discoursing about his works. This was very difficult for me to follow as it seemed quite philosophical and with just one man in a bed, scraps of paper everywhere and two nuns trying to keep him well and fed, on this occasion my lack of Spanish completely defeated me. I did however achieve what I set out to do and that was to see a performance in the Corral. I am sorry it wasn’t a rollicking, bawdy piece of nonsense.
But it was a wonderful experience just to be in the space.

SPOLETO DAY 4
Debussy, A Roman Ampitheatre and The Tempest.

SEE THE WORLD AND SEE WORLD THEATRE

A very hot day which started for me with a lunchtime piano concert in the Teatro Caio Melisso, an opera house originally built in the 17th century and remodelled and renamed after a Spoleto writer in the 19th century. It is on a much grander scale than the Bevagna theatre, and as the second opera house in Spoleto it was instrumental in Menotti’s decision to reside in Spoleto and to establish the festival here. The photos show the highly decorated cloth and the Roman theatre masks on display in the foyer. The music was charming and included works by Debussy and Satie.
The remainder of the afternoon, I devoted to locating the Roman ampitheatre. In the heat I walked for ages thinking I was going to discover a ruin similar to the ampitheatres in Greece, but not so. As I got to the lower part of the town, I could trace the town wall, discovered the empty moat and some Cyclopean walls similar to those on Agamemnon’s palace. Walking alongside the city wall, it eventually became evident that this was a part of the ampitheatre and that what I was looking at was a colosseum type of building that presented spectacles including the martyrdom of St Gregory.
Anfiteatro Romano – MySpoleto
http://www.myspoleto.it/citta/…/Anfiteatro-Romano.html – confirms it was a site for gladiatorial games and seated 10,000 people!
I’ve taken a photo of the street sign because it took me so long to find, but what a find, a colosseum/ampitheatre that is in the process of being restored. It is not in my theatre research unless I can establish that plays were performed here, but a gem nevertheless. Other photos are of the walk and the shady respites along the way.

The 1st century AD ampitheatre beside my hotel, had not only collapsed in the terrain but had been engulfed in the adjoining monastry and then a prison until 1954. It has finally been restored and unveiled as a ballet and concert performance space.
penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/…/Spoleto/Spoleto/Roman/theatre.html elucidates on the rarity of the paving on the stage, which I have not seen, as it is well covered.

So where does this lack of continuous theatre performance lead me? … to Merida in Spain! Closer to Lisbon than Madrid, it is the site of one the most authentic extant Roman theatres in Europe with all the features of the changes in theatre architecture associated with the Roman developments in theatre. I will be visiting it on the last leg of my journey to see Apuleius’ The Golden Ass. And although I knew of the existence of the theatre, my discovery of The Merida Classical Festival came as one of those freakish things that happen when one is surfing the web. So it this site that I will be exploring in the link between Greek and Roman Theatre long before Italian theatre developed its mystery plays and of course, Commedia del’ Arte – all of which came later- and which in due course, I will explore.

But for now, back to Spoleto and the main reason I am here, even if it is yet another variation in the development of theatre, is to See the World and See World Theatre.
And here, on Day 4 I witnessed exactly that.

Irina Brook is the daughter of the esteemed director and theatre academic, Peter Brook, and as well as being an actress in her own right, she has become an esteemed director, working with Mnouchkine and in developing her own works.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irina_Brook provides a good overview of her work.
With an early evening tempest hitting Spoleto, I borrowed an umbrella and headed up the hill to San Simone to enter the dilapidated medieval church that is now mostly used for performances. And what a great space to house Brooks’ Island Trilogy: The Tempest, The Odyssey, and The Isle of the Slaves.
This evening I was seeing The Tempest and as soon as I entered the dark and gloomy space, I could see the Mnouchkine influence. Pockets of the huge church were scenic display areas. One was a beached and overturned row boat over which young children were playing. Another was a deckchair, a beach umbrella and a young piano accordionist providing jaunty tunes while we queued for the scaffold seating before us and lastly, a somewhat insignificant ladies dressing table and mirror with an empty suit case strewn on the sandy floor.
Sand was everywhere and as we made our way into the playing space we were on an island. One of the players was cooking a meal amongst the immense paraphernalia on a kitchen table. A young woman was writing on a pillar and two surly males were huddled in a corner, one trying to unravel a fishing net, the other being incredibly still.
When the play flew into action, Prospero, is an Italian restauranteur, Ariel, his flashy Maitre D, the fishing net unraveller is Caliban and of course the beautiful young woman writing poetry on the wall is his daughter Miranda.

The play, in French with Italian surtitles, plus some English is a magical romp that only occasionally uses the Shakespearean text and often injects other Shakespearean and Byronic quotes. It is all a truly delicious, magical mayhem. The cast is wonderful, especially Miranda and Caliban and the range of genres that the work employs ranging from hip pop to waltz to replay parody a la Buster Keaton was a delight….in fact it was one delight after another. I congratulated Ms.Brook after the show and she told me it had been 2 years in development in France and that The Odyssey had been 10 years in development. What a marvellous accomplishment. I see both The Odyssey and the Isle of the Slaves on Day 6. I can’t wait to see how she again utilizes the space and how the actors adapt so quickly to two new plays. This production of The Tempest is a must see and I hope it gets picked up for the Melbourne Festival some time soon.

Spoleto Day 3

See the World and See World Theatre

PORNOGRAPHY by Witold Gombrowicz
This was a programme I chose from a deep resistance to the subject material and because I knew very little about this acclaimed Polish writer.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witold_Gombrowicz
My first surprise came when I realized that the theatre for this event, Teatro Francesco Torti of Bevagna was not on the Spoleto map. Where is Bevagna?’ I asked the incredibly helpful Festival Office attendant, ‘in the country’ was the reply, ‘but there is a festival bus to take you there, however you need to book 48 hours in advance.’ I’ve encountered a couple of examples of this sort of bureaucracy in my travels and managed to solve it with a big smile and pleading the ignorance of a foreigner. Anyway, Chiara secured a seat on the bus and in the meantime I took advantage of a free concert in the Largo Di Clementi. It was a 6 piece wind ensemble with the emphasis on saxophones of all sizes plus a clarinet made of gold. When the concert finally got under way, the music was charming.Then off I went to Bevagna with another 60 or so Pornography revellers.
Once more the countryside was beautiful with fields and fields of sunflowers in the 7 pm sunshine.
Arriving at Bevagna was like arriving on a film set that one had seen many, many times.
The town is medieval and Teatro Francesca Torti absolutely amazed me. I am told that these sorts of theatres exist all over Italy, but for me it was a first in that it was a provincial Teatro and did not have the gaudiness of Renaissance theatres. I had booked a ticket in the gods as this production was not high on my list of must-sees, and on arriving in the dizzy and hot heights of Loggione, I was greeted by a swathe of Roman murals on the ceiling and walls. The charming Senorita, informed me that if the theatre was not full I could venture down to the stalls. This I did, prompted by a Philosophy student, and I ended up in a box! What an adventure.
And then 3 hours of the play, thankfully with an interval, when I crossed square for a gelato.
Pornography is set during WW2 and is more a question of voyeurism than pornography. As an adaptation, and an Italian premiere, I believe it could benefit from concerted cutting. One delight for me was the use of the tracks in the stage which could make items of furniture and other paraphernalia appear and disappear at will.There was a performance by a strikingly attractive 40-something woman that was a standout. Not only did she shake with every fibre of her body to indicate her state of anxiety, she later appeared totally naked and blood smeared as a victim of rape and murder. That performance was truly arresting.

In my initial research tracing the development of theatre from Ancient Greek to Ancient Roman theatre, I had been unsuccessful in locating any extant theatres of the medieval period in Italy, let alone theatres presenting early Roman or Christian material. So here I was in a 251 seat Medieval theatre that had been beautifully renovated in the 19th century. Mr Google translated some details for me:

Teatro Francesco Torti, Bevagna
Piazza Filippo Silvestri 06031 BEVAGNA PG Tel 0742 368123 Fax 0742 361647 Type: Theatre E-mail: pbevagna@bcsnet.it – sociali@comune.bevagna.pg.it Disabled access: YES Monumental building: YES Visits: YES Capacity seats: 251
Where is
Torti The theater is located in the main square of Bevagna , a charming medieval village situated on a small hill at the western edge of the Umbrian Valley.
Today the theater is part of the Circuit City Museum which includes a visit to the Museum and the Mosaic of the Roman Baths . In this circuit, recently, it has been joined another, the Cultural Crafts Medieval , with separate ticket or cumulative.

It was once
The theater is housed in Palazzo dei Consoli, built in the thirteenth century.
On the ground floor is still the loggia, covered with three large Gothic arches and a quarter smaller, probably used as commercial space.

Why visit
One of the smaller theaters of Umbria, only 251 seats, is dominated in its limited size by harmony and perfection.
Tastefully decorated, contains interesting paintings nineteenth century, the particular location within a historic building nell’asimmetrica Piazza Silvestri, makes the visit even more striking.

Description
Made in 1886 by architect Antonio Martini, is named after the local scholar Francesco Torti.
The theater has a plant in a horseshoe, three tiers of boxes and a loggia; railings are made from cast iron columns.
The ceiling is the work of Mariano Piervittori and represents the Muses dancing. The original curtain was painted by Domenico Bruschi with Propertius Torti who points to his homeland in 1886 during the restoration of 1994 was another curtain created by the painter Luigi Frappi Bevagna with’ll Clitunno river with poetic and memorial temple.
The coat of arms above the curtain in 1380, donated by Pope Innocent IV, it states “OSF”, which stands for “Ob servatam Fidem.”
After the structural restoration, the theater is regularly active.

Curiosity
The construction of the theater was strongly supported by the citizens who in 1871 had gathered in an organizing committee. The inauguration took place on the evening of August 28, 1886, for the occasion, the impresario Alfredo Wolves staged the ‘Ernani, along with The boarders of Sorrento.

http://www.regioneumbria.eu/default.aspx?IDCont=2570 has a lovely (professional) photo of the theatre.

http://www.teatrostabile.umbria.it/pagine/bevagna-teatro-torti – has a wonderful photo of the ceiling fresco depicting the muses and thus evidence of the carry over from Greek to Roman.

OK so I saw a 20 century piece of theatre, but just finding the theatre was gold and I would certainly include it as a must see if organising a tour. I think this is the first time the theatre has been utilized in the Spoleto Festival but wouldn’t it be great if they could stage a medieval piece in there? Perhaps some of my actor friends and I could do it under Angela O’Brien’s theatre history
guidance.
Any of my theatre cronies up for it? 🙂

Day 4 The Theatre of Apollo at Delphi

SEE THE WORLD AND SEE WORLD THEATRE

THE THEATRE OF APOLLO AT DELPHI
Today I utilized the knowledge and experience of a conducted tour, and as I had already seen the main Festival offering, Ibsen’s, An Enemy of the People, at the 2012 Melbourne International Arts Festival, I opted for a leisurely Greek taverna dinner with an Athenian friend in the evening.

The exceedingly well organized tour was headed by an exceptional guide who cheerfully imparted her wealth of historical, mythological and topical material. Leaving Athens, the bus took a 2 hr drive through its urban sprawl, fertile plains and seaports, into the dizzying heights of the mountains. Amongst the urban sprawl was the location of Marathon, the plains of Thebes, the Sanctuary of Olympia, the site of The Muses, and the Temple to Demeter, which is of great interest to me as it is the Temple associated with the Mysteries School.

In terms of Greek Theatre, David Wiles has devoted a good deal of scholarship to the notion of the significance of place. Indeed this was an element I engaged in my own Masters thesis in as much as a playwright will make reference to a place and by association, the audience will appreciate the deep meaning. Although associations of place had already been aroused in me, in view of actually passing through the places encountered in ancient literature, it is an area I would like to explore in my future studies of Greek drama texts.

The Temple of Apollo is located on Mount Parnassus. The extraordinary rugged beauty of the place in high summer belies its existence as a winter playground for cross country skiing and snowboarding and other snow activities I know nothing about!

Arriving at the Temple of Apollo, and passing through the agora, one is seemingly greeted by the imposing columns of the altar at the entrance to the temple, and at which, supposed sacrifices took place prior to performances in the theatre.
Theatre, according to one source, http://www.coastal.edu/ashes2art/delphi2/sanctuary/theatre.html, was a sacred act with the priest of the temple officiating. Actors were also sacred and highly revered, and from my observations, this attitude seems to persist amongst modern Greeks.
The ampitheatre, which seats 5000, is well preserved and overlooks the The Temple. As the patron of Delfi, Apollo is the god of light, music, poetry, healing, prophecy and more, and is the twin brother of Artemis, goddess of hunting.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo, gives an excellent account of Apollo’s duties as the Patron of Delphi/Delfi and also makes clear the positioning of Delphi as the navel of the world. Indeed the ancient ompholos is represented by a concrete replica on site with the supposed original ? or at least, another replica housed in the site museum.
Our guide explained that the site is exceptionally high in magnetic energy, which in turn, is associated with prophecy. I watched as a tourist carefully placed his hands on the concrete ompholos and I hope he was blessed with a suitable Delphic response.

When I asked the guide about contemporary use of the theatre, she informed me that several years ago, Vanessa Redgrave had performed Phaedre here. Wow! (even though it’s unsubstantiated.)

The visit to this site has revealed just how much more I want to learn about Ancient Greece. It is very inspirational. For my next trip, I intend to have expanded my knowledge and to have obtained a passable amount of basic Greek. For the most part, people working in museums and tourist places speak English, but everyone responds very well when you greet them with kalimera and acknowledge them with efpharisto.

Dinner in a back street taverna near Monastiraki was wonderful. Angela Makris ordered a wide range of local delicacies ranging from deep fried feta with honey and oregano, local salad, meatballs, and I can’t remember what else. Although I do remember the ouzo. I really enjoy the freshness and relative simplicity of Greek food and the taste of tomatoes and other salad vegetables is very different from Australian salad vegetables. Maybe Greek soil is magic!

Walking through the main streets of Athens at night was without incident and at no time have I felt unsafe.

Athens Day 2 Love and Intrigue

SEE THE WORLD AND SEE WORLD THEATRE

SCHILLER’S LOVE AND INTRIGUE

Today I explored the Acropolis and despite the heat and the hard the climb, one is humbled by the achievements of the Ancient Greeks and the truly awesome expression of excellence in architecture and religion. For me the highlight was sitting in the Theatre of Dionysis – the birthplace of Western Theatre. Also on the Acropolis, is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus which symbolizes the next phase in the development of theatre – that of the Romans. Sadly for me the festival programmes showing at the Odeon while I am here are showcasing contemporary singers and other genres that are not part of my thesis. So instead I went to a production of Schiller’s Love and Intrigue. While this is an 18 century German text, my reservations about the language for a modern audience were totally dispelled by the adaptation of the piece into Greek tragedy. The adaptation was superb and ticked all the boxes for the elements of Greek Tragedy while the delectable sounds of the Greek language translation coupled with Greek emotional sensibilities enlivened the piece significantly.

The setting for the production was a great adventure to an industrial area of Athens where a factory complex was turned into a theatre space. The sparseness of the set and mere suggestion of German period costume were ideally informed. The playing of a complex plot with many characters was executed by just 2 female and 4 male players all of which was handled with perfect suspension of disbelief including a beautiful mime sequence which served as a prologue to the piece as the audience entered the auditorium. For me, a non Greek speaker, I tested out the use of my iPad with an English translation of the German text and page turning as the play went on. It worked marvelously and knowing the plot and the characters, I could quickly skip through the cuts and doubling of characters. In all it was a very worthwhile experience including the festival’s consideration in supplying a bus to return patrons to the Athens city centre. This was followed by a short walk on a balmy evening back to my hotel. Another really great day of seeing the world and seeing world theatre.

The Theatre of Dionysis
The Theatre of Dionysis