Oh Research, Research! Wherefore Art Thou Research?
Thessaloniki-based Oberon Art Group brings to the always-atypical T Theatre its personal take on Lorca’s The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden, adding to the age-old question of how to deal with a classic in our contemporary days, without bringing anything new to the table.
La compagnia teatrale Oberon Art Group, nata a Salonicco nel 2009, porta sulla scena del sempre sui generis Teatro T la propria visione personale de L’amore di Don Perlimplín con Belisa nel suo giardin, andando ad aggiungere carne al fuoco dell’annosa questione di come gestire i classici nella contemporaneità, senza però aggiungere niente di nuovo alla discussione.
Η Oμάδα Τέχνης Oberon, με έδρα τη Θεσσαλονίκη, φέρνει στο πάντοτε ιδιότυπο Θέατρο Τ την προσωπική του εκδοχή του έργου Ο έρωτας του Δον Περλιμπλίν και της Μπελίσα στον κήπο του Lorca, προσθέτοντας ερωτηματικά στο παλιό ζήτημα «πώς να ασχοληθεί κανείς με ένα κλασικό στις σύγχρονες μέρες μας;», χωρίς όμως να προσφέρει κάτι καινούργιο στη κουβέντα.
Craved as long as absent, unobtainable in this life, harbinger of prosperous sufferings. Love according to Federico García Lorca could only be found on a road made of cypresses and orange trees; an impossible consensual indecency that could only exist in that non-Euclidean space where love unavoidably meets death. Albeit “minor”, The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden is a clear example of Lorca’s poetics. Indeed, as the man himself said, theatre is but poetry «standing up from the book and becoming human», a heartfelt involvement with the distressed human condition. And what better way to share this view than by portraying the story of an old, ugly man who marries a young, beautiful girl and ends up dying to fulfill his love?
The peculiarity of this play written in 1928 and first performed in 1933 due to the increasing political controversies that shrouded the author and would eventually lead to his death three years later – other than the musical operatic interludes – lies in the trailblazing and definitely non-conventional role of Don Perlimplín, a man who did not know love and yet became devoted to it, neglecting any possession just to hold onto an ideal till death. A man who wears the clothes of the very common machismo only to inflict his own fatal wound, leaving us bewildered among lyricism and grotesqueness.
Indeed, Lorca’s theatrical production boasts a plethora of independent, reactionary and idealistic women (Yerma and The House of Bernarda Alba, to quote a few) who go beyond tradition not simply to quench a sexual thirst or to give in to a whim, but to express their true feelings regardless of the dictatorial and patriarchal power. Women who play the role of the sacrificial lamb on the altar of male honour, tormented by loneliness in a context controlled by prejudicial behaviours, suffocating taboos, scuttlebutts and rumours. Women who have nothing to share with Belisa, thus paradoxically turning Don Perlimplín into the most interesting female character in the play.
Oberon Art Group’s take on Lorca’s tragicomedy, entitled Perlimplín & Belisa, works on this paradox with a very light touch, using an ethereal stage direction and a cloudy interpretation on behalf of both main actors, delivering scant laughs and less tears for the truly tragic ending. Indeed, once Belisa hugs for the first and last time her husband, entering those territories of pain inhabited until then only by Perlimplín, and murmurs «Yes, yes, I love him, I love him with all the strength of my body and mi soul. But where is the young man with the red cape? Dear Lord, where is he?», we should be taken back to the point of non-departure. We should understand that there are no more interlocutors in the world. But I am not sure we do.
Reading, especially a classic, is never a way to pass the time, but to fill it with new meaning and questions, to turn our entrails inside out and see how immortals our crookedness and monstrosity really are. Representing on a stage a classic, therefore, should never be a mere proof of concept – i.e. a demonstration that some principles contained in a play are still valid – but should find a way to breach the veil of contemporariness and talk with honesty to its modern audience. It should re-represent, make present again. And not simply present again.
The show is still playing
Alexander Fleming 16 – Thessaloniki
from 9 March to 1 April 2018,
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Oberon Art Group presents
The Love of Don Perlimplín and Belisa in the Garden – Περλιμπλίν & Μπελίσα
by Federico García Lorca
translation Oberon Art Group
direction Alekos Spyridakis
music Michalis Goutis (original music composition for the show)
sets-costumes Dora Gouniroudis, Maria Stavraki
lighting design Dionysis Karathanasis
movements Mariantis Psomatakis
make up Irene Siganou
video editing Michalis Gigounidis
photography Tasos Thomoglou
design-production of printed materials: ΚΕΘΕΑ ΣΧΗΜΑ+ΧΡΩΜΑ
production organization-contact Apostolos Liapis
production Oberon Art Group
cast Dionysis Karathanasis, Ioanna Lambni, Dimitra Pasiou and Sophia Sassili