With its rather interpretative take on Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, Theatre T shines yet again like a lighthouse in the early-June highbrow darkness of Thessaloniki, pointing the way for all those hungry theatregoers struggling to keep their brains afloat amidst a maelstrom of numbing routine.
«Non capisco. Una frase talmente travolgente da trascendere la mia comprensione. La nostra comprensione, d’altronde, è sempre limitata. Ma il non capire può dimostrarsi senza frontiere. Difatti mi sento molto più completa quando non capisco. Non capire, così come lo intendo, è un dono. E non mi riferisco ai sempliciotti. L’ideale sarebbe essere intelligenti e non capire. È una benedizione curiosa, un po’ come vivere la follia senza esserne affetti. È una quieta indifferenza, una stolta delicatezza. Aldilà dell’occasionale momento di inquietudine: non mi dispiacerebbe capire un po’, Non troppo, certo, ma quanto basta per capire che non capisco». –Clarice Lispector, La scoperta del mondo
«Δεν καταλαβαίνω. Αυτή η φράση είναι τόσο συντριπτική ώστε ξεπερνά κάθε κατανόηση. Η κατανόησή μας είναι πάντα περιορισμένη. Αλλά το να μην καταλάβουμε μπορεί να είναι χωρίς σύνορα. Αισθάνομαι πολύ πιο πλήρης όταν δεν καταλαβαίνω. Για να μην καταλάβουμε, με την έννοια που εννοώ, είναι δώρο. Δεν αναφέρομαι στους απλούς. Το επιθυμητό θα ήταν να ήμαστε έξυπνοι και να μην καταλαβαίνουμε. Είναι μια παράξενη ευλογία, όπως να βιώνεις τρέλα χωρίς να είσαι τρελός. Είναι μια ήσυχη αδιαφορία, μια απατηλή ευγένεια. Εκτός από την περιστασιακή στιγμή ανησυχίας: θα ήθελα να καταλάβω λίγο. Όχι πάρα πολύ: αλλά τουλάχιστον να καταλάβω ότι δεν καταλαβαίνω». –Clarice Lispector, Ανακαλύπτοντας τον κόσμο
If you are looking for a literal representation of Beckett’s bleakest play, the Πειραματική Σκηνή της «Τέχνης»’s («Art»’s Experimental Scene) version probably won’t turn out to be your cup of tea. Indeed, it is likely that the pedantic, kill-joy Irish director would have not stayed for more than 5 minutes among Theatre T’s packed Monday crowd, given all the liberties taken by his Greek counterpart Glikeria Kalaitzi. who decided – perhaps forced by the limited space – to overturn some highly-significant stage directions. Clov’s and Hamm’s faces may be of the same colour as Nagg’s and Nell’s, thus calling off the whole chess-like dichotomy of the text, and what was first left, may now be right, thus rendering the choreography completely topsy-turvy, but lo: this is the theatre’s true nature – to question itself at every turn.
And so the one act begins: endgame, that peculiar situation in which both chessmen already know the outcome of their match, but nonetheless keep playing (HAMM: «Me—(he yawns)—to play. Can there be misery—(he yawns)—loftier than mine?») is terribly akin to our worldly stay, forced as we are to trudge through our daily mishaps only to arrive at a finish line we never really want to reach. And yet we struggle, with «insistence, patience and courage», as director and first actress to play Nel, Kristina Tzigou, said in her 1967 lecture in a pre-Junta Thessaloniki; we struggle to affirm our fleeting existence with trivial actions, dominating and letting ourselves be dominated just to dispel the bugaboos of uncertainty and death.
Putting on stage Endgame is first and foremost an act of emancipation. As a matter of fact, by way of a super-human effort, Beckett managed to break free from all that which used to tie him down to conventions and traditions. He went beyond a divided Ireland, a bewildering Paris and a patronizing Joyce, and devoted himself completely to the avant-garde, despite it being so hard with literature, and with literary drama, to let go of the past’s safe harbour. Within this heart-rending struggle between identity and abstraction, the 1969 Noble Prize winner chose to speak his mind both with objectivity and reason-laden madness. The so-called absurdity of his piece, then, must be represented according to the rules of the game he himself had set forth, and cannot be tainted by conventional gimmicks such as suspension of disbelief and utterly believable characters.
Dimitris Naziris (Hamm) and Efi Stamouly (Clov) do a wondrous job at giving flesh and blood to their lines, and the result is a fine play which respectfully bows its head to everything that Beckett once scorned. If we consider his project as completed, trying to give it a different shape might be equivalent to taking a step back and stumbling on the pile of dead-end moves he himself must have rejected before finding his ultimately strategy. And yet, we must be thankful to «Art»’s Experimental Scene work, which possibly opens up again the dialogue with theoretical ideas that might be of use to younger artists, as much as they were when misery, despair and alienation were the common barbwire which gripped the whole of Europe.
The show is still playing
T Theatre (Theatro T)
Alexandrou Fleming 16 street – Thessaloniki
from 12 May to 11 June 2017
Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 21.30
Endgame (Το Τέλος του Παιχνιδιού)
a play by Samuel Beckett
translation Nikiforos Papandreou
direction Glikeria Kalaitzi
set design Eyangelia Krkine
costumes Maria Karadeloglou
light design Kostas Sidhropoulos
sound Stergios Tsilios
cast Dimitris Naziris, Efi Stamouli, Giorgos Frangoglou, Sofia Boulgari
in collaboration with Theatre T