PARIS TACOPOULOS’ THEATRE,
- Chara Bakonikola, Emeritus Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Athens
Paris Tacopoulos’ plays, a Theater of all times *
Tacopoulos’ plays present to the viewer an unfamiliar relationship to the familiar, which is startling; that is, it acts like the centrifugal force and tears him away from ordinary interpretations. The movement, the situation, the persona and the language – both in dialogue and soliloquy – in short everything, is explosive and unforeseeable in this singular theatre, with its threatening acrobatics, and puts its very self in danger by attempting the complete overthrow of all themes and certainties. Without neo-realistic hysteria or melodramatic embellishments, without heart-rending, ardent climaxes, the playwright’s customarily ambivalent characters move about in an atmosphere of “excessive reasoning”, one might say, which, nevertheless, is not burdened with any metaphysical, supernatural or dream-like force and though nourished by tangible realities, the spectator is still lured into an enhanced experience of the event. The image which transcends the boundaries of the possible is not an inconceivable one: a journey on an incredibly swift plane, a blind typist, a dangerously eccentric scientist, a child older than his grandfather, a woman who believes like a spoiled infant, homosexuality as the result of boredom, a couple’s meal festooned with skirmishes, are all situations and characters that one can imagine as being right now. So we are not dealing here with whimsical conceptions, nor with science fiction. This is not something unintelligible and, in the final analysis, there is nothing new under the sun anyway. What is of importance is how Tacopoulos has elaborated on the stimuli he receives from his world and how he remolds them into an artistic composition.
Here is should be said that what stands out is the way the playwright takes stock of his language. However, Tacopoulos is not satisfied with ridiculing it and de-articulating it, until it finally collapses and is wiped clear of meaning, as Ionesco does, but rather carries it on to a further re-composition, revealing yet another level of meaning, playing with similar-sounding words, covering up the literal meaning with metaphor and provoking a panic with his diction which, however, is very far removed from the idea of the nullification of writing or life. The function of language is revealed, of course, through elements which are apparently unconnected with each other, the absurdity of human intellect, even the most extreme versions or reality and, naturally, language itself. But what is not stable does not necessarily have zero as its point of reference.][
][The linguistic code among the characters, which alternately ensures understanding and misunderstanding, is a daring composition of words taken from both formal and colloquial Greek, seeded here and there with foreign terms. The comic elegance and aptness of the language, is unexpectedly jarred by slang which is juxtaposed to the demands of propriety, striking like bolts from the blue, in the manner of a well-brought-up child who leaves one speechless when he transgresses the bounds of good behaviour he has learned so well.
Intimate and alienated, simple and crafted, straightforward and complex, depending on the situation, the theatrical dialogue of Tacopoulos projects the relationship between the significant and the insignificant, the depth and the surface, the comic and the tragic, light and dark. Human enterprise and endeavours, no matter how serious they are, lose their sharp outline and gravity in the microcosm of a limited geographical, ideological and/or emotional space, if seen from a distance and a particular point of view.
Tacopoulos’ point of view is that of a “formal distancing” from the supposedly important matters of today’s world, which have been reduced to forms, without content, movements without a final destination. Even though our life has been rendered inoperative, there is nothing to prevent the writer from painting the incredible lightness of being in his own incredible, unique and at the same time hilarious way, whereby members of the audience burst into laughter from comprehension, while at the same time remaining perturbed by the threat that continues to lurk beneath the comic dialogue.
*(excerpts from Chara Baconicola’s book: “The Hellenized Cosmopolite Theater of Paris Tacopoulos”)