Story, History and Us
For four days only, the Small Theatre Moni Lazariston fills with the blood of all those who gave their life (willingly or not) for an ideal and were brutally butchered by the unscrupulous agenda of fate. This Grave Is Too Small For Me lovingly picks up the shattered pieces of this massacre and puts them together with heartfelt respect, intoning a hymn to life and the stories we tell.
Per soli quattro giorni, lo Small Theatre del Moni Lazariston si riempie del sangue di tutti quelli che hanno dato la propria vita (volenti o nolenti) per un ideale solo per essere brutalmente massacrati dagli spietati fini del fato. Mi va piccola questa tomba raccoglie amorevolmente i frammenti di questa carneficina e li rimette insieme con affettuoso rispetto, intonando un inno alla vita e alle storie che ci raccontiamo.
Μόνο για τέσσερις μέρες, το Μικρό Θέατρο Μονής Λαζαριστών γεμίζει με το αίμα όλων εκείνων που έδωσαν τη ζωή τους (πρόθυμα ή όχι) για έναν απώτερο στόχο και σφάχτηκαν άγρια από την ανελέητη ατζέντα της μοίρας. Σεράγεβο 1914 – Μου είναι μικρός αυτός ο τάφος, παίρνει με στοργή τα θρυμματισμένα κομμάτια αυτής της σφαγής και τα βάζει μαζί με εγκάρδιο σεβασμό, απαγγέλνοντας έναν ύμνο στη ζωή και στις ιστορίες που διηγούμαι.
Everybody knows that history is not literature (understood as poetry, rhetoric, or belles lettres, even theatre). But since when is that the conventional wisdom on the subject? If we go back to Herodotus’ days, storytelling and historiography were mostly one and the same, as the word-of-mouth reiteration of an event usually led to its mythologisation and consequent crystallisation in a specific, accepted and widespread narrative form. Starting from the 19th Century, however, historiographers began raising tall fences around themselves, leaving outside everything that did not belong to the purity and importance of their social science, an empirical effort that had nothing to do with flamboyant descriptions or frivolous details. It is thus that, relatively recently, only what is consequential in history can become a part of the general narration of our past, flattening all controversial creases, reducing whole lives into a name and a date and forcibly ruling out all those little stories that happened for their own sake, without the imposing shadow of History looming down on them.
This Grave Is Too Small For Me is one of such frivolously detailed and flamboyantly described stories, recounting the last years in the lives of four young Slavs looking for their place in a Balkan Block under Austro-Hungarian rule. Written by Serbian playwright Biljana Serbljanović and directed by Thanos Nikas, the play focuses on the challenging ethical and philosophical ideas of this gang of unruly dreamers who, laying in dark basements with their hands behind their heads, planned to rid their land from the invader and create a free and united Yugoslavia. Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović, Danilo Ilić and his sister Ljubica take the stage with youthful enthusiasm at first, slowly and forebodingly shaping their ideals and views with adolescent fatalism and naivety. If the first name rings a bell, it is because we have all been thought to associate it with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, that “decisive” event that triggered the infamous WWI. Few know or seem to care, however, that Gavrako, Nedjo and Danilo were first and foremost individuals.
«Although it is based on real facts, the play does not talk about events. Although it uses historical and political documents, it is neither a historical nor a political drama». What makes This Grave Is Too Small For Me such an interesting piece of theatre – other than the spot-on performances of Ars Moriendi’s thespians, the enthralling, escalating direction and the visionary set design – is its focus on the human personality in the impersonal narration of events that is History. By lifting the a posteriori judgement of time, Serbljanović presents the audience with an exhausting exercise of reassessment that goes beyond the mere act perpetrated by these “heroes”, requiring us to bring into question the very relationship we have with the historical narration. What is History? Who are we within it? Can our small lives truly leave such a big mark on things, or is it only a matter of perspectives? «We are not criminals. We are honest people, animated by noble sentiments; we are idealists; we wanted to do good; we have loved our people; and we shall die for our ideals», will say Nedjo before his death in prison, giving in turn his own personal narration of things.
By juxtaposing story and history, we are forced to re-read the human condition as a whole, escaping from the conventional monolithic point of view of the latter while at the same time trying to remain afloat in the teeming stream of the former, constantly changing our standing ground in search for an all-encompassing standpoint from which to observe and understand without judgement that thing we call existence. Ars Moriendi’s interpretation of This Grave Is Too Small For Me tries and succeeds to achieve this higher state of consciousness, perhaps because, after all, these two words are one and the same in the Greek language.
The show was played at
Small Theatre Moni Lazariston
Kolokotroni 25-27, Stavroupoli – Thessaloniki
from 10 to 13 May 2018
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 21.30
Sunday at 19.00
Ars Moriendi Theatre Company presents
This Grave Is Too Small For Me / Σεράγεβο 1914 – Μου είναι μικρός αυτός ο τάφος
by Biljana Serbljanović
translation Ismini Radulovich
direction Thanos Nikas
stage desgin Evangelia Kirkinis
lighting Thanos Nikas
photos Momentum Photo
contact Lia Kesopoulou
cast Dimitris Kapetanios, Dimitris Krikos, Christos Papadopoulos, Grigoris Pyrgialas, Katerina Synapidou