VASSILIS' MAVROGEORGIOU THEATRE,
- Elena Karakouli, Filologist - Dramaturg
[Translation: Elina Palaska]
Vassilis Mavrogeorgiou's dramaturgy has a very clear and basic theme: the indistinguishable and elusive boundaries between reality and fantasy. Using the improvisational power, the livelihood of the dialogues and fantasy, he manages to create worlds that have the elements of the skit and are addressed to both the young and the adult. He startled both the audience and the critics with his play Cockroach, and he repeated the basic motifs in other plays. With his associates' assistance he delivers a dramaturgy in which ingenuity prevails. What is characteristic about his script and plays are the directness and constant action, the transformation and the improvisational power, even if the depth of the profundity differs in the many and various themes he grapples with.
His first play, Cockroach, the prominent Dadaist musical, begun its course in 2005, it captivated the audience and brought an unprecedented innocence and freshness to the Greek theatrical stage, that was to be object of mimicry by many drama groups. The story of Ioanna, the cockroach that managed to land on the moon, by invading the spacesuit of an astronaut, surprises not only her friends but the entire world, mostly because she is the living proof that everything is possible, even the most unrealistic dreams.
Mavrogeorgiou's surrealistic fairytale deals indirectly with modern issues and problems and focuses on the relationships and on the quest for meaning in life. In a playful manner he motivates the imagination of the spectator and invites him to follow the cockroach in her astounding journey. The improvisational and adventurous spirit is consistent with the play itself, which stars the playwright himself and the play's composer, Kostas Gakis. The actors follow the script's logic and they portray all the characters in a minimalistic scenery, creating a spectacle that startles with its freshness and fantasy.
The plays that followed share many characteristics, indicating the playwrights trademark. In 2006-7 his play Just the truth, Part I is presented. This time the play refers to the story of a great magician and follows the structure of a fairytale. We are transferred to 1801 and the hero is young Duval, who is unwittingly chosen as a magician's apprentice. He is surrounded by mysterious peers and an enigmatic teacher. He encounters spirits and mythical creatures. The basic axis of the play, as well as an object that enfolds the ultimate knowledge is the Book that only "speaks the Truth." However, whoever reads something from it turns to stone, as the truth has its price.
The play is action packed, with plot twists, dramatic tension and climax, while the "dark" element that refers to the thriller is introduced. The dialogue remains simple, vivid and ordinary.
Only the truth, Part II, which carries the supporting and misleading title "Violence Lessons" is cosigned by all the play's contributors and it is clear that the play is the result of improvisational freedom.
The play consists of twenty brief acts, it is a musical with skit characteristics, and its staring point is violence as the cornerstone of life. While the title predisposes to violence, the script includes no cynicism whatsoever. Its theme is not violence, but ultimately life itself. In contrary to any didactic structure the title undertakes, the play is but the search for ways of survival in the modern world, where violence has many facades and it deals with life's more indirect and imperceptible aspects.
The play describes the loquacious and violent outbursts of the human beings as a result of suppressed instincts. Thusly, it scrabbles with "serious" matters, free from demureness and the ambition to state principles or lead to absolutions and solutions. From the first act, in an extremely direct -and not at all awkward, as usually- way, the actors address the audience, and the dramatic mechanism is revealed: It is but the improvisational and imaginative view of a group of young people standing opposite the big questions. It is the 80's generation, that writes verses for doritos and cheetos, as well as magicians and alternative worlds.
A Massive Explosion (2010) is a play that seems to set aside the logic of the devised. The playwright pushes aside the group improvisations and he works on a complete script. Residing to a different kind of dramaturgy, but using the same emotional approach, this play strays from the fairytale and puts in focus more ordinary matters, such as relationships, love, death, everyday problems such as unemployment. This time Giorgos is the hero, a boy who grew up in front of a black and white TV watching "Star Wars", craving to save the mankind from a meteorite. After the massive explosion, the hero lands on a mundane reality. Not only does he not sacrifice himself heroically, but he studied, he has a good job, he does not crave for food, he is alone and helpless. He, of course, despises realism and creates a world where the heroes of the ancient tragedy co-exist with the heroes from "Star Wars", mythical creatures such as sheep, as well as Death itself. It is a mature play, a well written coming of age story. The action, the galloping imagination, the inexhaustible pace, the surrealistic leaps and humor are very distinct in this play. Yet another positive element is the plot concentration compared to the other plays.
Referring to the above plays is only indicative and it does not wear out the playwright's dramaturgy. The plays have been used as milestones of an ongoing course, as well as examples of the style and themes used by Mavrogeorgiou. The playwright, director and actor Mavrogeorgiou, continues to write and experiment.