ΜΕΤΑ (AFTER)

oδc ensemble
REVIEWS

META IS NOT A THEATRICAL PLAY.
IT IS AN OPEN CONSULTATION ON: “And then?”
META IS THE MEETING OF 50 ATHENIAN CITIZENS

The performance’s main theme is the meaning of the “end” – the relation of people to society in a moment of disaster/crisis and the period after. It is a site-specific performance that incorporates theatre, dance, music and visual arts.

Performed at Vyrsodepseio (July 2011 & September- December 2011) and “International Festival of Iraq”, city of Erbil, Iraq.

As part of our research in order to collect the necessary material to cover the wide range of themes and extensions in this historic moment, we held a first round of meetings between the ODC group and our fellow citizens who, through their personal perspective and scientific knowledge, shared in an open discussion their own AFTER. Their specific relationship with the concept of destruction, since the crisis after the end of the world, after capitalism and after countless other AFTER-today. These open discussions lasted one month and planted the seeds for the show that we propose be subsidised. From this, we opened to the public a work-in-progress show entitled “META”, which lasted 8 days (4-11 July 2011) and brought together many volunteers including some of the citizens who had taken part in the initial round of discussions. We presented “META” in an old tannery situated in the isolated area of Botanical, exactly where the open discussions had taken place.

“META” emerged through the creation of a network society, through an open dialogue on the role of art today and the need for parallel clusters. We mobilised aound a common feeling: something is breaking in our society, something is getting irretrievably lost, and something is being identified as the need for teamwork. These meetings have led us to conclude that the performance is not an end in itself. Moreover, the mechanism of “open discussion” runs as a narrative mechanism of the dramatic fabric of the show.

In “META”, the simple everyday comunication (through the text of the actors) runs in parallel with the reason of grand narratives (political, religious, literary texts). For example, during rehearsal we worked on a selection of texts ranging from Makriyannis, St. John, Aristotle, Plato, Rosa Luxembourg, Roger Dadoun, Fernando Pessoa, Ernesto Sabatto, Pierre Paolo Pasolini, Thierry Paquot, Witold Gombrowicz, William Burroughs, Heiner Muller and Marx, to texts arising from the improvisations of the actors. All these are interwoven within the final body of the representation, which can only be the body of the actor/citizen and realise a complex, ‘open’ momentous task. The language of the play is not purely “theatrical”, as it incorporates many forms of art – music, dance, visual arts and any instrument that enables us to articulate the pulse of today.

We choose a non-theatrical space as the site of the show for many reasons: a) META has not been conceived from the desire to make a play, but from a collective need to open a dialogue with our fellow citizens about our present, and our future. That is the reason why the chosen site ought to exceed the “closed” theatre. b) The fact that this site is in the midst of a deprived area of Athens was also a motivation for the choice, since it would bring the public into an unknown area of the city and it would initiate a first contact with its residents. Devolution became a basic need, as we realised throughout our discussions the importance of finding areas where the residents had no previous contact with the urban art. c) The site is suitable for a site-specific project because of the significance of the architecture (listed 19th) d) It worked until recently as a tannery, which the performance fully integrates in the dramaturgy. In a tannery, the workers came into contact with the skin of animals, offal, germs, blood and contaminated water. The idea of cleansing is a key thread of the dramatic fabric of the show and, with appropriate textual support, the space will be used not only as a literal place (as a performance space), but also as a metaphorical space (as a tannery “purgatory”).

“META II” emerged from a wide path through an open dialogue on the role of art today, the need for parallel clusters. Something we leave behind us, something ends and this separation is a cause for collective grief, anger, fear of what is coming and hope. There is a need for the expression and management of this mourning, and the theater is the perfect place for expressions of public sentiment, unmentionable desires and fears. The work in question discovers, in this political heartbreaking, its true role: part confessional and therefore comforting. “Let us therefore celebrate the destruction of us!”
 

Credits
Concept-Direction: Elli Papakonstantinou
Music – Multichannel Sound Installation: Lambros Pigounis
Choreography: Pauline Huguet
Artists: Mary Zygouri, Telis Karananos, Alexandra Siafkou
Dramaturgy: Dimitris Bampilis
Performers: Ioannis Voulgarakis, Valia Papachristou, Adrian Frieling, Electra Tsakalia, Pauline Huguet, Larisa Vergou, Lambros Pigounis, Nikolas Stravopodis/ Lazaros Vartanis/ Bagelis Alexandris, Dimitris Kainos and many volunteers.
Music Improvisation: Lambros Pigounis (Violin, live electronics), Panos Tsekouras (Theremin), Anastasia Eden (Vocals).
Light Design: Adrian Frieling, Elli Papakonstantinou
Production: ODC
Photographs: Dimitris Bampilis, Mary Zygouri, Despoina Mavridou
 
 
http://www.danzine.fr
9/11/2011
«META, une performance du désastre».

par Marie Juliette Verga


[En]

In an abandoned factory – the most important tannery of the Balkans in the 19th century – ODC plays the end of the world five times a week for two months. The spectators are lead across this impressive building, haunted by the memory of its workers, before witnessing how an artistic project is cut short.

META has been created in and for this unique site, over three months of research, improvisation and editing. The atmosphere of the space as well as the political events that are shaking Greece and the European Union deeply impregnate the piece. If some economical questions are tackled, some issues are not left aside such as the loss of meaning and the feeling of belonging to a deceptive world for which everyone is asked to suffer a bit, to pay in one way or another and to think, should we want to save it. Alongside the cast of famous actors, there is a group of extras who stand for, and actually are, their Athenian co-citizens.

In the foyer, two hostesses look after the spectators, smiling and dancing their way among them, first sensually and then epileptically. Standing behind the mic, Elektra Tsakalia disseminates meta-words: metamorphosis, metabolism, meta-language, metaphysics, Metallica! – this litany of metas opens the piece that questions the notion of after: what will come after the destruction, after the crisis and after the end of the world? An alarm rings, the girls are having a fit in the cage where they have just been locked, the audience are rushed outside.

There, on a concrete ramp, comes the time for a speech about phantasmagoria, this fascination for illusions which had an unfathomable success in the late 18th century. It is literally the art of making ghosts speak, therefore the art of making images speak and of moving what remains still. The audience is then lead inside the basement of the building and a big metallic gate shuts behind them. Under a very dim light or revealed by a torch beam, some corpses are lying on the ground and are meticulously watered. Besides, the sound of water drops fills up the space, for the soundscape is omnipresent and structural from the very beginning of the piece. Herded through a dark corridor, the spectators grope their way between two vitrines behind which some dummies are strangely gathered, past a body preserved in a plexiglass jar and along a pile of bodies slowly peeling off each other and merging again.

The phantasmagoria then becomes embodied in a fascinating set up: lighting, set, choreography, music, voice. In the midst of concrete columns, with water dripping incessantly from the ceiling, dimly lit; in the midst of reflections in concentric circles; their feet in the dark water that we imagine as cold as ice; three women are dancing accompanied by the voice of a fourth woman, standing by the musicians. With their faces concealed, they come forward and momentarily pause, like the doubles of some Tarkovskian characters. Silence replaces the electronic music and violin, only the water can still be heard. Some helicopter blades start roaring, the dance turns into a tremor leading to a violent explosion and many a fall. For a moment the whole world seems to have disappeared. The sound softens up, escalates towards higher notes and drifts towards a lyrical melody. The women mingle, drag each other and drag themselves toward the upper world, on a slow decrescendo.

When the audience leaves the space with the columns, they notice that the gate has been opened and it is their turn to access the upper world. Several tableaux are now going to succeed each other, like the different takes of a fictive shooting which, unlike Truffaut’s The American Night, shows the miseries rather than the splendors of a film crew. Following the instructions of their director – a role that has been taken over at the end of the first month of the run by the actual director, Elli Papakonstantinou – the actors play one scene after another. Each one has distinct references: religious – The Last Supper, the crucifixion and procession; artistic – the fallen statue of Lenin drifting down the Danube on a barge in Theo Angelopoulos’ Ulysses’ Gaze, and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa; topical – the image of a terrorist with his jacket lined up with dynamites; political – a table conference and a demonstration; popular – a Greek cover of Abba’s song Money; symbolical – the chimera creatures that bring the piece to an end. The references are the ghosts of this improbable after.

It is hard to describe everything that penetrates the space. There is some humor, some poetry, some anger, some cynicism and some irony. There are some beautiful visual compositions. There are complete yet subtle performers, whose physical and intellectual engagement with the project is obvious at all times, as Valia Papachristou’s outstanding performance shows. There is a sound score that achieves the double challenge of being simultaneously the skeleton and the skin of META. There are tight bodies with the stamina necessary for a 2 hours’ long performance.

Maybe one can regret that at times the play looses itself in wearisome chatting. Maybe one could wish for a project with clearer lines. However the strength of the piece probably relies on this chaotic basis, which is the mirror of a collective writing always in movement and constitutes a solid support, prompting all not to allow themselves to stagnate within a rigid performance.

When the performers are suddenly left alone to their own devices, without any extras, without any director and without any production, their attempt to come closer to the audience simply sums up the project, that never stops questioning itself according to the events of Greek politics, following the ebb and flow of hope. Entrusting composer Lambros Pigounis with the music which functions as the mental and societal structure of the piece, and French choreographer Pauline Huguet from London with the movement, ODC collective take the risk to inscribe themselves in the here and now, with their always growing and razor-sharp piece.

Note

ODC Ensemble was founded by Elli Papakonstantinou and is constituted of actors, dancers, musicians, video and visual artists coming from Great Britain, Greece, France, Germany and elsewhere. Famous for their work on Homer, ODC Ensemble recently staged Viciousness in the Kitchen after Sylvia Plath’s Three Voices.

Aixmi.gr
23/11/2011
Και «Μετά» τι; Η γιορτή της καταστροφής μας

Ορέστης Ανδρεαδάκης


[En]

What comes “META” (“AFTER”) the celebration of our destruction?

An original avant-garde multimedia show with the enigmatic title “ΜΕΤΑ”, which means “AFTER”,(one of the boldest performances we’ve seen by a Greek company) which will run  until the 30th November in Votanikos, in a historical listed tannery, embodied an adventurous plot and disclosed the traumatic ordeal of the recent – yet ongoing-contemporary crisis.

Speech, music, dance, improvisation, cinema, visual art, philosophy, poetry, politics and satire are incorporated in “ΜΕΤΑ”, a performance directed by Elli Papakonstantinou and performed by John Voulgarakis, Valia Papaxristou, Adrian Frieling, Pauline Huguet, Larisa Vergou, Lampros Pigounis, and many volunteers.

At the heart of the performance we encounter an agonizing feast in the name of destruction. That’s how everything begun in the “Tannery”: with a deep acknowledgment of the destruction of a world that leaves behind its impact of crisis that precedes him.

Nothing is taken for granted in this performance and nothing rests tranquilly on normal expectations. it is truly exceptionally rare for theatre to forget itself, to dismiss willingly all “theatricality”, to join other forms of art and to open dialogue with its audience and present time.

[…]

Political criticism and (let’s call it) activist art procedure find in “META” their best possible outcome, as the subject of crisis is freed off any journalistic surface and shaped into a solid aesthetic ongoing experimentation. Thus, “ΜΕΤΑ” (AFTER) strengthens its allegory and is marked on all other “after” that Greece is going through at this period. Crisis, immigration, German demands and cultural cul-de-sacs.

The whole second part unfolds like a movie that is shot now, in front of the viewer’s eyes and broadcasted live on the walls: Da Vinci’s last supper deconstructed into a colorful carnival, Abba’s “Money, money, money”, sang by Terry Chrisos, is choreographed in a satirical way, while Valia Papachristou astonishes the audience through a passionate monologue about the  collapse of the phantasmagoria that surrounds us.

A great dancer of the “dance company oktana”, Papachristou makes her fascinating debut in prose, acting perfectly in movement and speech.

When exiting the old “Tannery” you have lived a total experience, an ideological adventure, an adventure of the thought and the emotion and also one of an extreme challenging aesthetic.

ELEYTHEROTYPIA
KLEFTOGIANNI

 “META” FROM N. Kurdistan to Votanikos


Directing the end of capitalism

“META” an aesthetic essay on what follows crisis and capitalism, a show that has travelled from the small state of N. Kurdistan to the biggest tannery of the Balkans, at the area of Botanicos.

A postmodern, mixed spectacle for … META (THE AFTERMATH) has been set up in an old tannery.  Directed by Elli Papakonstantinou collaborator of Sarah Kane and director at the Royal Court, recently in Cyprus, where she directed for the Cyprus Theatre Organization Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

“Let’s make a change. Let’s replace our politicians with poets”, she suggests.  “There is no other way out. People from all fields resist “. A good example is the 25 people involved   at “META”.

“Everyone has been involved without a salary, motivated by a spirit of collectiveness.  Nothing separates actors from volunteers. It is important for the arts to overcome the  notion of “artist”. Let’s talk more about who acts, who resists”, she says passionately.

The theatre group “ODC”, introduced to us through their performance “Viciousness in the kitchen”, entered an adventure with “META” not with the worry of the performance, but “the worry of the citizen”. “That is why volunteers, (dancers, teachers, architects, historians, sociologists,) take part in it and they are all activists. “Why it is important to redefine the role of art”, explains the director.

It all started when “crisis broke with the IMF in Greece” and Elli Papakonstantinou together with her partners decided to meet for two months every day. First, to articulate around the table, “what happens and what is changing.” These meetings slowly began to expand and resulted in open discussions attained by experts, architects, historians, etc.

The resulting material was not used for public activism, as suggested by the director, but for a performance. The site specific “META” incorporates dance, theater, installations, but because of its origin it is based thematically on very solid ground: the end of capitalism, the end of crisis, the end of the natural world, the end of tolerance, while “playing” with strong symbols like Jesus – Jesus is belted with ammunitions!

A challenging trip.

In the second part of the performance, the audience enters a film studio where they watch the shooting of a movie about the end. But after a while, it is announced that the national TV channel, the main producer, is now sold to the Chinese TV and so the shooting ends abruptly. “The actors stand in awkwardness, just like us, the Greek citizens. “I try to express the agony, the awkwardness of the people around me,” says the director, who is an optimist, against the dull surrounding atmosphere.  ”Why, I see new movements rising.  A performance in the uninhabitable area of Botanicos and this collective spirit would have not taken place earlier” she adds.

The proposal to present “META” at the “International Theatre Festival in Erbil,” did not puzzle Elli Papakonstantinou or volunteers. “We were very interested to present the performance in a war zone, even though the last two years there have been fewer attacks in Baghdad”. As soon as we landed to Erbil, we encountered two worlds, says the director. On the one hand, the luxury, the expensive cars, and the micro world of American officials and German oil companies that have installed a supposedly independent country.

On the other hand, we faced a hopeless world, bombarded houses, it was “like a war movie. Life is hard in Erbil and the Kurds traumatized”. It sounds surreal to organise an international theater festival in such a controversial state, which is officially recognized only by the U.S.A. This was more of a political decision. The Festival was inaugurated by the Prime Minister and teams from Germany, Sweden, France, England, Japan etc. attained.

The public, mostly … male, watched “with reverence and with a great surprise, especially when they saw some nudity or when a man touched a woman on stage”.

Whan happened with “META”?  They loved it. Because “META” deals with notions of destruction and violence that the Kurds have experienced, so they were identified. They were certainly aware of what is happening now in Greece. And they feel solidarity. Otsalan is a forgotten story. At the end of the performance, 500 people waited to congratulate the Greek mission. “It was like a wedding!” Elli Papaconstantinou, remembers.

But Arbil is not over for the director. She has been invited to work with Kurds on a new production in 2012. Already the Kurds volunteers that participated in the “META” were a revelation. “It is only then, that I got a grasp of the political situation in Irak,” reveals Elli Papakonstantinou. “When I asked them to throw during a performed demonstration scene petitions in the air, they all told me that the police has a file on each one of them and that recently the government killed 10 people during a demonstration!”.

Athinorama

Ileiana Dimadi

Greek response to the first International Theatre Festival in Kurdistan


“We live a great experience”, she said in a telephone discussion with director Elli Papakonstantinou from Erbil, the capital-newly-the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq. We speak, of course, one of the oldest cities of humanity, with a story that takes us back to 6000 B.C. From there they passed the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Arabs, Ottomans, and even the Greeks, and within about 100 km found Gaugamela,  where Alexander the Great defeated in 331 B.C Darius G’.

The Greek director is participating in Erbil in the first International Theatre Festival            (18-24/9) along with 15 other theater groups from 9 different countries, between them, Iraq, Iran, Holland, France, Germany, Sweden and even Japan, etc. “It’s really bold to present a project on the destruction of a newly established country whose reality we know a little and only through the news. Should be noted that this is the first time a Greek team invited and may be found in this country, now rebuilt upon the ruins, with the sound of weapons not yet silenced … ” the director, told us, who with her team, ODC, participate in the interactive play “After,” which will show there on 21 / 9. If you recall, this particular performance on the disaster and what followed it, first appeared last July in Athens, in a historic, landmark tannery of the Botanical, most especially in the Balkans during the 19th century