An October Night’s Dream

The 52nd Dimitria Festival has begun. This self-confident international theatre, visual art, dance, film and music festival revives Thessaloniki under the guidance of a very specific common thread: «the path of renewal and extroversion. The path of dialogue and interaction». And what better way to plunge the audience in this hellish otherness, as some might say, than with Bulgarian-based Sfumato Laboratory Theatre’s OOOO – The Dream of Gogol?


Il 52° Festival Dimitria è iniziato. Questa rassegna internazionale di teatro, arte visiva, danza, film e musica ravviva la fiamma cultura di Salonicco sotto l’egida di un fil rouge ben preciso: «il cammino del rinnovamento e dell’estroversione. Il cammino del dialogo e dell’interazione». E che modo migliore per immergere il pubblico in quell’inferno che è l’altro, come direbbe qualcuno, se non con la pièce OOOO – The Dream of Gogol della compagnia bulgara Sfumato Laboratory Theatre?




Το 52ο Φεστιβάλ Δημητρίων έχει αρχίσει. Αυτό το διεθνές Φεστιβάλ θεάτρου, εικαστικής, χορού, κινηματογράφου και μουσικής αναβιώνει τη Θεσσαλονίκη υπό την καθοδήγηση ενός πολύ συγκεκριμένου κοινού νήματος: «το δρόμο της ανανέωσης και της εξωστρέφειας. Το δρόμο του διαλόγου και της διάδρασης». Και ποιος καλύτερος τρόπος για να βυθίζεται το κοινό σε αυτή την κόλαση πού είναι οι άλλοι, όπως είπε κάποιος, παρά με το OOOO – The Dream of Gogol της ομάδας Sfumato Laboratory Theatre από την Βουλγαρία;



Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol was a Russian playwright and writer of Ukrainian origins who, like an alchemist, played with words to create a dreamy realism, or surrealism, with traces of gothic and grotesque influences. His opus focused mainly on the real life of 19th century Russian Empire, leaving behind him a trail of satirical and self-aware works that earned him his global and well-deserved fame and respect. For their play, the Sfumato Laboratory Theatre from Sofia, Bulgaria, decided to draw from a set of texts such as the Nevsky Prospect, Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka, Marriage and Diary of a Madman and to perform various expeditions in the author’s creations.

Indeed, this piece of prose theatre has no intention of recounting one single tale, but rather generate a «suffusion into the written work, which takes on a dreamy texture through the high aesthetic set design, the pioneering costume design and the excellent performance guaranteed by Sfumato group». Despite the ever out-of-synch surtitles and the demanding 2 hour-long play, all the abovementioned elements – which allowed OOOO – The Dream of Gogol to win the Best performance Award at 2016’s International Festival of Small Stages, Rijeka, Croatia – came splendidly together to create phantasmagorical paper worlds all nestled one into the other. Human beings, the favourite subject of Gogol’s surrealist analyses, «rave their lives on the edge between two abysses – the cosmos and the microcosm, the visible and the invisible, the dream and the wakefulness, the enchantment and the desperation», skilfully portrayed by the group’s actors who, thanks to the liquid structure of both the stage and the performance, have many chances to pour out their many talents.

Perhaps due to a healthy and to-be-cherished distance between the West-European cultures and the Balkan-Oriental ones, the purpose of the play, other than paying due homage to the playwright, seems to be hard to grasp as laid out in this cryptic excerpt from the directors’ note: «in the eccentric movement of the “divine mechanic”, the trace of the singly human act produces the effect of the firefly in June: light on, light off. Yet the billion flashes write out in the dark a sentence of providence; a sentence that is inarticulate for us».

The show was played at
Theatre Aneton
Paraskevopoulou 42 – Thessaloniki
Monday 2 October 2017

The 52nd Festival Dimitria and Sfumato Laboratory Theatre present
OOOO – The Dream of Gogol
based on Nikolai Gogol’s stories Nevsky Prospect, Ivan Fyodorovich Shponka, Marriage and Diary of a Madman

directed by Margarita Mladenova and Ivan Dobchev
scenography Daniela Oleg Lyahova
music Asen Avramov
cast Snezhina Petrova, Albena Georgieva, Miroslava Gogovska, Elena Dimitrova, Hristo Petkov, Tzvetan Alexiev, Ognyan Golev and Antonio Dimitrievski


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