MAYA DELIVORIA'S THEATRE,
Maya Delivoria writes plays for children and adolescents. I don’t know if she would write for adults if she did another job. As a dramatist, she has worked with students of all ages for almost twenty years. Her involvement with the repertoire of children and adolescent audiences as well as with the viewers for whom she writes, appear to have helped her and shaped her dramaturgy.
To this day, she has written three plays for children and adolescents, and has received a corresponding amount of prizes, while one of them, “The ABC of adolescence”, has also received national praise and awards as a novel for adolescents. Her first play, “The Knight of Love”, which was awarded the first national prize for a children’s play in 2002, addresses a folk legend from Granada, about a young man who is growing up away from love and women, under the fear of a prophecy. Her second play, “The ABC of Adolescence”, which was honored with the second national prize for a children’s play in 2008, attempts to map the reality of the Greek teenager of the 21st century and was essentially written by demand and with the cooperation of her students. Her third play, “Brothers United, Never Defeated”, which was awarded the third national award for a children’s play in 2009, is about an adventure of an allegorical nature about two brothers, an adventure that challenges their relationship and the love they have for each other.
Even though, at a first glance, these three plays may appear to be different from each other, when someone reads or, even better, sees them on stage, can realize that they share certain similarities, which constitute the distinctive dramatic stigma of Maya Delivoria. On a morphological level, it is about multifaceted plays that can be performed by small theatrical troupes. All the plays consist of small acts, characterized by a prevailing comical or humorous element. Even when, in certain acts, an atmosphere of threat is created for the main protagonists, it is in the same time interspersed with comical elements. The presence of music is quite powerful, mainly through the songs which supplement most of the acts in the plays. The songs serve as a way to bring forth the emotions of the heroes, akin to musical theatre, but also underline and reveal the stand of the playwright or the protagonists according to brechtian practice. In any case, it is inconceivable for these plays to be performed without musical accompaniment and without having the lyrics set to music.
Another core component which characterizes Maya Delivorias’ plays is the swift and curt dialogue, which gradually appears to occupy a more dominant position in her text, as the playwright evolves. There is no room for extensive monologues or prolonged scenes between the characters. Except from “The ABC of Adolescence”, the other two plays maintain the traditional storytelling structure employed in fairytales. We have to do with stories-journeys, which the characters have to go through and experience in order to reach their goal. During an act, there are usually 4 actors, separated into groups of positive or negative characters, generally those of the protagonists and their allies and those of their antagonists. According to the analysis of fairytales based on Prop, the obstacles, the appearance of magical elements, the help from allies or the confrontation with the antagonists of the hero are always present in her plays.
So what do Achmed, Christina and Ilias or the adolescents of “The ABC” aim for? But, of course, for salvation, a salvation equal to the triumph of love. Because, ultimately, this is the issue of concern for the playwright; love in all its forms. Romantic love, between Achmed and Isavella in “The Knight of Love”, brotherly love between Christina and Ilias in “Brothers United, Never Defeated” and of course love and the understanding of ourselves in “The ABC of Adolescence”.
It is precisely this fairytale constituent which characterizes Maya Delivoria’s plays, that makes them so versatile in the way that they can be performed, both in a directing and scenographic level. Both “The Knight of Love” and “Brothers United, Never Defeated”, can be performed in a very plain environment with the use of scenographic tools and the manipulation of lighting along with the use of symbolic, mainly colorful costumes, while “The ABC of Adolescence”, under the directions of the playwright herself, is advised to be performed as a game of multiple utilization of the sets by four actors, with the aid of quite a few means. Of course, if possible, the plays can be imbued with rich and historically accurate down to the very last detail costumes, especially in relation to “The Knight of Love” – which takes place during the Arab reign in Spain- and the corresponding sets with the necessary interchanges, which emphatically underline the spatial transitions of the heroes.
The fact that Maya Delivoria’s plays can be only optionally and not necessarily enhanced with visual aids is indicative of the magnitude of their dramatic value. When a text is vivid, with vibrant characters and undisrupted action, the young and adolescent audience does not need more elements in order to identify with, travel, reflect upon and experience all the emotions that are hidden in Maya Delivoria’s plays. And the element hidden better from all is a youthful soul. As the playwright herself declares in the introduction of her play “The ABC of Adolescence”, it is something that didn’t happen effortlessly but rather occurred through a constant observation of the anxiety, the expectations, the upsets, the faith and assumptions hidden by her students. When Maya Delivoria experienced the rejection of her students in relation to the choices she made regarding her teaching, she did not quail and didn’t care to impose herself and be over with it. She dared to listen, to note down and eventually compile a play that speaks for her students and is essentially directly affected by them. “The ABC of Adolescence” is in its essence a play created within its corresponding framework, a type of text which was produced within a framework related to those texts created by the troupes of the so called “devised theatre”, but I believe that the other plays created by the playwright come as a result of her systematic theatrological involvement with children in schools and workshops throughout these years.
If we wished to integrate Maya Delivoria in the history of children’s plays of our country, we could say that she follows in the footsteps of Xenia Kalogeropoulou and Eugenia Fakinou, but at the same time, she carries with her, through her profession as a teacher, the traits of the pioneers of the field, Irene Paidousi, Eleni Theoharis-Perrakis and, of course, Antigoni Metaxa.
Therefore, we can expect more plays from Maya Delivoria, plays that need to be featured in the children’s theatre around the country, so that every child in our homeland can be given the chance to communicate with a teacher who, not only creates heroes who look for and eventually find love, but a teacher who ultimately carries abundant love for the child itself.
Dr of Theatrology