ANDREAS FLOURAKIS’ THEATRE,
- Kaiti Diamantakou, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre Studies University of Athens
21st Century Material
Andreas Flourakis’ dramatic work constitutes a quite representative – both qualitatively and quantitatively – sample of 21st century Greek dramaturgy; launched at the beginning of the new millennium, his drama evolves with it on paper and stage. Raised and educated in the last decades of the 20th century, Flourakis steadily and incessantly fuels the theatrical landscape with his works since 2001. His plays have various forms (small cast or large cast, one-act, full-length or divided into several scenic micro-sequences, monodramas, with detailed, minimum or no stage directions), diverse thematic (exploring family, erotic, social, professional, political, existential, metaphysical conditions and relations), varied eidetic texture (existential, surrealist or absurdist drama, black or satirical comedy, parody, Interior monologue, site-specific theatre, modular music composition), and also a varying linguistic, publishing and theatrical identity (plays that have only been published and others that have only been staged, plays that have only been presented abroad, works originally written in English, award-winning plays, long-time finished ones or in latent anticipation of future publishing and/or staging).
On the verge of two millennia, metatheatricality and postmodernism have – with the inevitable long delay in relation to the “there and then” of their emergence – invaded and largely been assimilated into the Greek theatrical "here and now", upsetting its traditional dramaturgical and directorial coordinates; Andreas Flourakis combines in his work – implicitly, quietly and discreetly –a multitude of different, past and current, dramatic influences and artistic blends. With degrees in film studies and playwrighting – which he sometimes teaches himself –, practice and experience in prose and poetry, with studies and residencies at foreign universities and theatrical organizations, the author balances among different types of expression and art.
Anonymous, eponymous or mythical; located at places and times either persistently neutral and obscure or thoroughly and realistically defined; floating lonely on stage or surrounded by family and friends; explicitly drawn from literary myths or independent from specific hypertextual commitments, sometimes created in a completely abstract and conceptual way and others meticulously described, Flourakis’ dramatic personae sway constantly and in opposite directions: from a realistic and detailed everyday language to a concise and allusive poetry, from political and social commentary to family and erotic themes, from tender and romantic lyricism to extreme verbal brutality and acts of cruelty, from the plausible and likely to the supernatural and irrational, from innocence and tenderness to perversion and cynicism, from social adaptation to unconventional subversion, from the literal to the ironic, seriousness to playfulness and drama to comedy.
Due to and through its syncretism, Flourakis’ writing – whether addressing a global audience (Atreides, End, Antelopes, Cassie) or a rather ethnically-marked Greek audience (Greek Cuisine, Workout for Strong Knees) – does not favor mindless identifications, as it opens up to a wide range of semantic levels and apperception coordinates. This is the reason why many of his plays were – if not written from the outset – translated in English by the playwright himself, or translated by Greek and foreign colleagues in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Turkish, Romanian, Polish, and Finnish. The inclusive texture and pluralistic approach of Flourakis’ dramatic work explains the fact that many of his plays have been staged as regular theatrical productions or presented - in their entirety or fragmented - in reader’s theatre or script-in-hand-performances, one or more times, both in Greece and abroad: Amore Notos Theatre, Municipal Theatre of Rhodes, Spring Theatre, Alekton Theatre, European Cultural Center of Delphi, Theatre Epi Kolono, National Theatre - Readings, Municipal Theatre of Serres, 104 Art Center, Vafeio Theatre -Lakis Karalis, Tzeni Karezi Theater – 24 Hour Play Athens, Murphy Hall, Inge Theatre (Kansas), Tristan Bates, Royal Court Theatre, Gate Theatre, Embassy Theatre (London), West Yorkshire Playhouse (Leeds), Hidden Hills (Los Angeles), Queens Theatre in the Park (New York), Arama Tiyatosu Theatre (Istanbul), Bibliothèque Denis Diderot (Paris), Korjaamo Culture Factory, Kalliolan Teatterin (Helsinki), Intercity Festival (Italy).
The majority of Andreas Flourakis’ dramatic works have been published and staged, and have already fueled critical and academic reflection; he is one of the few alive and in full prime writers for whom a theatrological monograph has already been published (Theatre Material. A Study on Andreas Flourakis’ Dramaturgy. Varvara Daliani. Aparsis Editions, Athens, 2014). He has also won a number of artistic and institutional distinctions: the British Council scholarship for the Royal Court International Residency in 2002, distinction in the one-act contest organized by the Art Theatre in 2003, fellowship from the Fulbright Foundation in 2004, while in 2006 Antelopes was selected as one of the sixteen best European plays in the JANUS Project. In 2008 he was awarded in the one-act play contest organized by the International Centre for Writers and Translators in collaboration with the municipal theatre of Rhodes, as well as in the international monodrama competition (2006-2008) by UNESCO and the ITI. In 2014, his play Workout for Strong Knees was selected by Eurodram, the European network for the translation of plays).
Fortunately, all these achievements and steadily-accumulating awards haven’t dulled the playful nature of either the author himself or his plays, which are often the result of a reflective and automatic, one could say, exercise, in informal or formal "competition" frameworks that witness a subsequent reworking and expansion before reaching their final version.
The playwright doesn't follow a specific theatrical "program" and every one of his new suggestions is an experiment in different and unexpected thematic and morphological fields, giving the impression that he approaches his works with the joy and excitement of a child; he plays with words, things, people and their social roles, puts to the test their performative potential and the limits of their authenticity and illusiveness. Being "games", Flourakis’ plays often leave behind a sense of frustration with regard to their overall dramatic and ideological proposal. This sense is, however, their great advantage: the theatrical field surrenders with absolute confidence and self-denial to the director’s creative imagination and imaginative intervention, required to cover the unsaid and the insinuations, bridge the rapidly alternating scenes , either on stage or narrative action, and – possibly – signal the usually "open" ending.
Andreas Flourakis’ work constitutes a "living" theatrical material which, without denying the demands and specifications of traditional dramaturgy, leaves cracks for the directorial initiative to invade, aiming to its scenic, metadramatic and theatrical completion. Hence, not only does the author have a long creative road ahead of him, to introduce us to more of his dramatic suggestions, but so does his existing dramatic material, with the ability to bring us new directorial implementations.
[Translation: Elena Delliou]