Contemporary pleonasms

As many theatres around the world do, so does the NTNG offer a series of online shows in these trying times, forcing us to wear our best dresses for an evening out on our couches with Chrysa Spilioti’s Who Discovered America?, directed by Sofia Paschou.

Greek Abstract

Όπως πολλά θέατρα σε όλο τον κόσμο, και το ΚΘΒΕ προσφέρει μια σειρά από διαδικτυακές προβολές παραστάσεων σε αυτούς τους δοκιμαστικούς καιρούς, αναγκάζοντάς μας να φορέσουμε τα καλύτερα φορέματα για μια βραδινή έξοδο στους καναπέδες μας με το έργο Ποιος ανακάλυψε την Αμερική; της Χρύσας Σπιλιώτη, σκηνοθεσίας Σοφίας Πάσχου.

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Italian Abstract

Come tanti altri teatri in giro per il mondo, così anche il Teatro Nazionale della Grecia del Nord ha deciso di offrire una serie di spettacoli in streaming per tener testa ai tempi difficili, costringendoci così a indossare i nostri abiti migliori per una serata sul divano di casa in compagnia di Chi ha scoperto l’America? di Chrysa Spilitoti, per la regia di Sofia Paschou.

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Finally. Finally, a contemporary Greek play takes over the stage of Thessaloniki’s wizen, cramped up theatrical scene. Finally, the shiny gloss of the “glorious” past gets scraped off from the antediluvian show schedule of the NTNG, revealing a gritty and very-much-alive theatre of the hic et nunc, where postwar crocodile tears get no foothold anymore and only a honest, psychological portrayal of human beings’ struggles with the challenges of this new era can truly be insightful and, in turn, useful to its audience.

First published and staged in 1996, Who Discovered America? by playwright Chrysa Spilioti tells the tale of Lisa and Kaiti, two cousins who «grow up together trying, each in her own way, to answer the questions they’re posed at school and by life. For the two heroines, the road to adulthood and maturity is paved with struggles, dreams and frustrations. In the end, they find themselves together again, trying to answer the same question about life with which the play opened (and which is posed by the play’s title): who is the one doing the discovering and what did they find after all that searching?».

The simple (albeit insightful) play is staged by director Sofia Paschou with an accordingly simple (and still insightful) set, devoid of all those frills and shills that the “classic” modern Greek theatre seem to love so much. Indeed, the audience will not find murky courtyards and run-down houses filled with singing old ladies and pockmarked drunken sailors on this stage, nor grand salons brimming with sparkling and obnoxiously witty high-class chimeras. No, Who Discovered America? does not need any of these cloying facades. Two actresses, two swinging chairs and a few props. That is all is needed for this «miniature masterpiece whose utterly real and convincing relationships and characters are drawn with psychological precision».

As assistant director Alexandros Michail purports, «One through the other, Kaiti and Lisa set off in search of their own America, meaning their real selves but also their own gendered place in the society of their times—let’s say the mid-Nineties, when the play was first staged. As well as a serving as a tribute to the playwright (who passed away recently), a rare ray of light who was taken from us all too young, this new staging of her well-written, well-oiled, popular —almost televisual— comedy provides us with an opportunity to ask ourselves this: what has been achieved socially in terms of gender roles and identities since Chrysa Spilioti’s America? How many personal and collective battles have still to be fought and won?»

A contemporary play, then, focused on contemporary issues. A pleonasm, perhaps, but also a much needed specification in these times of greasepainted pablum and artistic directors’ conservative extravaganzas.

 

The show is still playing at
Studio Theatre Moni Lazariston
Kolokotroni 25-27, Stavroupoli – Thessaloniki
Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 April 2020
21.00

The National Theatre of Northern Greece presents
Who Discovered America? – Ποιος Ανακάλυψε την Αμερική;
by Chrysa Spilioti

director Sofia Paschou
sets-costumes Magdalini Avgerinou
music Nikos Galenianos
movement consultant/assistant director Alexandros Michail
lighting Sofia Alexiadou
production photography Tasos Thomoglou
production coordinators Dimosthenis Panos, Eirini Chatzikyriakidou
cast Momo Vlachou and Chrysa Toumanidou