VASILIS KATSIKONOURIS’ THEATRE,
- Evanthia Stivanaki, Professor, Faculty of Theatre Studies University of Athens
Vasilis Katsikonouris is one of the most significant modern Greek dramatists. His writing and thematic are both substantial and original, and despite his subjects’ topicality, he - as a dramatist - is anything but “topical”.
On the contrary, through modern thematic actualizations he excavates, seeks and reflects the “archaic” human entity through the mechanisms that govern the respective "topical", the current society. The dramatic environment of his plays lies far from any beautification or bourgeois comfort. His dramatic heroes are authentic characters and not “made” façades. The time, place and conducts of his characters – which on the surface and in the first place are reminiscent of a realistic technique – serve, in fact, as a familiar "raw material" for the recognition and integration of conflicting innermost landscapes.
Katsikonouris’ standard technique, which governs all his plays, consists of the following: those who initiate conflicts are always characters divergent, inadequate, unique, obsolete, unable to adjust to the given situation and conform to the rules of the standardized social gaming. These “bizarre” heroes bear the marks of an emphatically differentiated – albeit strong and rebellious – identity, within the community in which they exist and operate. They do not comply with orders, nor are they able to adjust to the given historical, social, political or ideological environments. Katsikonouris’ alien, deranged characters emerge as gaping wounds of a past – both personal and collective – memory; they actually refer to an archetypal, universal Memory. Through the dramatic plot, the playwright’s heretical heroes transcend the current conditions and elicit man’s lost sense of measure. So, the young immigrant vehemently refuses to become assimilated, by abrogating his origins and memory (Milk). The heroine with the wounded memory – caused by "Attila’s” invasion in Cyprus – refuses to forget (The Missing). For similar reasons, the enraged youngsters (California Dreamin’, Harley’s Jacket) refuse to integrate and conform to a world without values, dreams, culture...
Throughout his work, the playwright argues that the human essence has been “buried” by the current circumstances and abolished through an imposed, modern, intra/extra-institutional regularity. Katsikonouris’ dramaturgy focuses on the demonstration of the underlying causes of human deformation, which – in reality – is included in people and societies’ "norms". Eventually, this image reversal functions as an implication and also as the author's conviction about the need to reinstate the in quasi authenticity that nests in our protean core. The dramatist reveals the purity and projects it not as evidence of some kind of morality but as an element of existence; as the basis of the first, the archaic human self.
Katsikonouris’ writing – dense, formidable, excellent – points to a primary musicality and an exclamatory, rich poetry.
[Translation: Elena Delliou]