Encore in Attis Theatre by Theodoros Terzopoulos
- Author: Mountraki Irene
- Published on: 30/11/2016
The experience of attending a performance in Attis Theatre directed by Theodoros Terzopoulos is a unique initiation rite but also submersion in a wild and, at the same time, healing Dionysian ritual. A theatre with its roots tucked deep in time, archetypes, rituals and the eternal pursuit of man’s position and sight on earth. A theatre that makes us turn to ourselves, and becomes a vehicle to roam around our inner, darker and best kept parts of our Ego. A theatre that leads spectators and initiates at once to the woe and pleasure of existence and intercourse with the Other.
“Encore”, the third play that completes the trilogy (preceded by the phenomenal, allegorical and cryptical “Alarme” and “Amor”) directed by Terzopoulos, is another ritual fixed as a frolic set by the director-instructor, who conducts it not with his baton but with a sharped razor (the one he used in order to engrave the smile of his actors as we read in the performance’s leaflet), while he equilibrates on the edge of tragedy, the existence of our agony and the sarcastic attitude created by the conscience of our futility.
Two incredible actors, Antonis Myriagkos and Sophia Hill, sit opposite to one another right under the empty stage. There is only a big white cross –symbol not only of torment but also of consecration– on the floor of the stage creating aisles and limiting the paths to be followed. Two people, two bodies, two existences. Dressed in black, exceptionally elegant without a trace of exaggeration (costumes by designer Loukia, a permanent co-worker of Terzopoulos). They stand up. Their point of departure is different but they are both genuinely committed to Meet. Swords in their hands, the only objects. The sword as a holly symbol and an archetype weapon, as divine-spiritual will that penetrates into the materialistic, earthly level in order to shake and rearrange it advocating a union between “heaven” and “earth”. Humans in an attempt to communicate, bodies that try to interact. An interaction that entails conflict, fight, struggle, conquest and relinquishment. Ephemeral existences trying to find their soul mate – a soul mate that attracts them and at the same time repels them. Invocation and exorcism. The eternal battle of the human being towards Fulfilment.
This struggle, this conflict becomes more and more intense, the bodies vibrate moved by this imperative need, while there is constantly the desire for encore, fore “more”, for “more”, sarcasm and irony for never-ending things, for the applause we are looking for, for the encouragement to keep on trying. A holly, divine embodiment of agony that leads to mutual devour and regeneration.
Speech is extremely limited throughout the play, based on the poetry of young, though already known, Thomas Tsalapatis, which is characterized by a specific code and gives a sense of eerie life. Sounds and voice signals are emitted, words become powerful as units, not as conceptual clusters, while the word blood is constantly present. Blood as the juice of the body, as a source of life and a symbol of death; however, at the end, it is painfully ascertained that we need to become children in order to tell the truth.
Of course this stage game wouldn’t be possible if it hadn’t been for the two incredible actors: Sophia Hill, an eerie creature of demonic nature with the aura of the Maenads, the shadow of an Erinys, but also the redemptive energy of an Eumenis over her; and Antonis Myriagkos, an actor of exceptional technique who came to theatre through painting and turned his body into a pulsating string. Panagiotis Velianitis, also a permanent co-worker of Attis, signs the music – another allusive path that leads us from familiar and “sociable” sounds to sounds of inner coordination.
With this performance about Eros as an engine of life and death, Attis Theatre of Theodoros Terzopoulos celebrates its thirty years since its foundation. Thirty years of performances that changed the way theatre exists in our country and influenced dramatically the global theatre community. This celebration, though, also has a taste of bitterness since, despite its great success and its global recognition, Attis Theatre remains an individual case in Athens –in a country– that howls pretending to create art.
Personally, every visit to Attis Theatre all these years, to this area in the centre of the town, now abandoned to its fate, but so beautiful in the past, has been like a revelation. I left –and still leave– Attis feeling that I hold in my hands a brand new manual of understanding both the world and myself, a brand new valuable guide in order to dive and resurface. A mechanism of Catharsis that offers redemption which is associated with the conscience of a perishable and continuing struggle.
Translated by Eva Toliou