The Hour of Hourglasses
Ever since Homer (and earlier still), we have been haunted by the idea of finding our way back to a forlorn place we persistently and romantically call “home”. With ΝΟΣΤΟΣ (Coming Home), Koldo Vío breaks the nostalgia-laden spell and puts in the limelight another kind of distress, in a way more violent and real: the bitterness of coming back to a home that is no more.
«Itaca ti ha dato il bel viaggio,/senza di lei mai ti saresti messo /in viaggio: che cos’altro ti aspetti?/E se la trovi povera, non per questo Itaca ti avrà deluso./Fatto ormai savio, con tutta la tua esperienza addosso/già tu avrai capito ciò che Itaca vuole significare», diceva Constantino Kavafis, inneggiando al cammino che si volge meta. «Perché mi hai permesso di partire? Mi vergogno… Non riesco a guardare le persone negli occhi e dire loro la verità. Mi vergogno di essere stato via per tutti questi anni. Cani neri ci chiamavano, padre… Perché mi hai permesso di partire? Uomini invisibili. E non è che non ci vedessero. Non volevano vederci», ribatte un personaggio di ΝΟΣΤΟΣ (Il ritorno), annaspando sotto il peso di una meta inesistente, di un cammino volto all’eterno ritorno della sofferenza, di un’Itaca oramai in rovine.
«Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε τ’ ωραίο ταξείδι./Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο./Άλλα δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια./Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε./Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,/ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν», έλεγε ο Κωνσταντίνος Καβάφης εξυμνώντας την πορεία που εξελίσσεται σε προορισμό. «Γιατί με άφησες να φύγω; Ντρέπομαι… Δεν μπορώ να κοιτάζω τοω κόσμο στα μάτια και να του πω την αλήθεια. Ντρέπομαι για όλα αυτά τα χρόνια που έφυγα. Μαύρα σκυλιά μας φωνάζανε πατέρα… Γιατί με άφησες να φύγω; Αόρατοι άνθρωποι. Και δεν είναι ότι δεν μας βλέπανε. Δεν θέλανε να μας δουν», απαντάει εναν χαρακτήρα του έργου ΝΟΣΤΟΣ, παραπαίοντας κάτω απο το βάρος ενός ανύπαρκτου προορισμού, ενός ταξιδιού με πλώρη τον αιώνιο γυρισμό του πόνου, μιας Ιθάκης πλέον ερειπωμένης.
The first feeling is fear. Both on the way out, and the way in. The former is the liberating terror of the unknown, through which we stay alive amid the perilous waves of the dark sea ahead, and the latter is the soul-clenching fright of being judged and consequently deemed unworthy when our feet step once again on that familiar doormat. Every emigrant feels the first one, but only a few get the chance to experience the second. If escaping from war, misery and pain can exact a deadly toll, so does setting sails yet again to catch the homeward wind.
The human hourglass painted by the exquisitely humble shadow theatre used now and then to give rhythm to the score is a memento of this mentronomical essence of ours, which forces us to swing back and forth, forever tied to a fatal noose: our awareness of time. As Milan Kundera says: «The more vast the amount of time we’ve left behind us, the more irresistible is the voice calling us to return to it». And so, a loud heartbeat clocks in the distance, and our human struggle runs to fill the beautifully crafted scenario of Coming Home, a genuine work of art and love.
Albania, Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Afghanistan and Greece; empty words that shatter to the ground as soon as the five actors on stage start to frantically change costumes and scenography, telling borderless stories of returns and defeats, lives not lived and loves not consumed in the name of a better, safer life abroad. Fathers, grandmothers, brothers, friends and enemies; the whole range of relational commitments parades in front of the enraptured audience perched up on every available recess of the Foyer of the NTNG, just like curious kids at a puppet show. An happy coincidence that does nothing but enhance the childhood-like storytelling of this «puppet show for adults» that plays at fishing out of our closed-off souls an ounce of empathy and understanding for the guy who cleans our windshields even if we ask him not to, the lady who keep our children for a few Euros and the black man who keeps selling us watches on the beach, simply by cutting us in on their pain.
The bait for this emotional line-pulling, then, is an oneiric allure, liquid movements and an outstanding soundtrack composed by the smooth Pavlos Metsios. The visionary multi-instrumentalist, incidentally, other than offering an impeccable accompaniment to the director’s storytelling, caves in to pathos, letting all of his dedication surface in the form of tense smirks that well define how tightly knit is the whole performance.
As a matter of fact, Koldo Vío’s farsightedness (together with the incisive text devised together with the interpreters) arranges for a well-oiled mixture of genres and styles that fall gently into place just like the starry dynamo in the machinery of night does, creating a fully functional modern fable with all the right stuff to become an easy success. As the suitcases grow lighter and our hearts heavier with affliction, then, the shadows, the puppets and the human voices put together a travel made of trains, buses and boats full to bursting with men/marionettes, willy-nilly string-pullers of their own destiny.
And as the kite flies up high among the war-thorn clouds, we are all left aground, stuck in the shipwreck of our post-colonial prejudices, wondering who’s to blame but us…
The show is still playing
Foyer of the Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies (ΕΜΣ)
Ethnikis Amynis str. 2 – Thessaloniki
from 23 March 2017 to 9 April 2017
from Wednesday to Sunday
The National Theatre of Northern Greece (ΚΡΑΤΙΚΟ ΘΕΑΤΡΟ ΒΟΡΕΙΟΥ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ) presents
ΝΟΣΤΟΣ (Coming Home)
direction Koldo Vío
sets, costumes, dolls, extras Dimitra Giovani
puppets Antamapantachou (Eleni Panagiotou, Nikos Tobros)
music Pavlos Metsios
movement consultant Enti Lame
lightning Dimitra Aloutzanidou, Maria Lazaridou
production manager Demosthenes Panos
cast Eleni Giannousi, Yiannis Grezios, Natasha Daliaka, Marios Mevouliotis, Tasos Rodovitis
musician on stage Pavlos Metsios