Daily Archives: 7 Δεκεμβρίου, 2009

Θεατρικά Βραβεία «Κάρολος Κουν» και Βραβεία Θεάτρου και Μουσικής 2009

Απονεμήθηκαν τη Δευτέρα σε ειδική τελετή στο Μέγαρο Μουσικής τα θεατρικά βραβεία «Κάρολος Κουν», που έχει θεσπίσει εδώ και 11 χρόνια ο πολιτισμικός οργανισμός του Δήμου Αθηναίων, καθώς και τα βραβεία των Κριτικών Θεάτρου και Μουσικής, της Ενώσεως Ελλήνων Θεατρικών και Μουσικών Κριτικών.

Βραβείο Κουν Σκηνοθεσίας Ελληνικού Έργου: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφία στη Ρούλα Πατεράκη για την ατμοσφαιρική και καταλυτική σκηνοθεσία του έργου Puerto Grande του Μάνου Λαμπράκη στο Μέγαρο Εθνικής Ασφαλιστικής.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον Βαγγέλη Θεοδωρόπουλο για τη σκηνοθεσία του στο έργο Εχθροί εξ αίματος του Αρκά που παρουσιάσθηκε στο Θέατρο του Νέου Κόσμου.

Βραβείο Κουν Ερμηνείας Ηθοποιού σε Ελληνικό Έργο: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφία στον Κώστα Καζανά για τη δημιουργική ερμηνεία του στην παράσταση του έργου Ο κύριος Επισκοπάκης του Ανδρέα Μήτσου σε σκηνοθεσία Στέλιου Μάινα στο 104 Κέντρο Λόγου και Τέχνης.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον Γιάννη Τσορτέκη για την ερμηνεία του στο κείμενο του Δημήτρη Μαρωνίτη Μαύρη Γαλήνη στο Θέατρο του Νέου Κόσμου σε σκηνοθεσία του ίδιου.

Βραβείο Κουν Δραματουργίας Ελληνικού Έργου: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφία στη συλλογική δραματουργική εργασία του Δημήτρη Μαυρίκιου, της Μάρας Βαρδάκα και του Δημήτρη Πολυχρονιάδη πάνω σε ποίηση του Γιάννη Ρίτσου με τίτλο Το τερατώδες αριστούργημα, παραγωγής Φεστιβάλ Επιδαύρου, καταλήγοντας σε ένα κείμενο που ανέδειξε τη ζωή, το έργο, τις ιδέες και τον συναισθηματικό κόσμο του ανθρώπου και ποιητή Ρίτσου.

Βραβεία και τιμητικές διακρίσεις μουσικής

Μεγάλο Βραβείο Μουσικής: Απονέμεται ομόφωνα στον σκηνογράφο Νίκο Πετρόπουλο για την συμβολή του στην παραγωγή της όπερας του Ζύλ Μασσνέ Thais, καθώς και για τη συνολική και σταθερή ποιότητα της πολυετούς προσφοράς του στο χειμαζόμενο χώρο της όπερας.

Τιμητική διάκριση σε μουσικολογικό σύγγραμμα: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφίαν στον μουσικολόγο Κώστα Καρδάμη για το βιβλίο του «Νικόλαος Χαλικιόπουλος Μάντζαρος – Ενότητα μέσα στην πολλαπλότητα» της Εταιρείας Κερκυραϊκών Σπουδών (2008) , καθώς και για την συνολική θαυμαστή συμπύκνωση ευρύτατων πολυετών ερευνών περί το θέμα και την επτανησιακή μουσική εν γένει.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον επιβλητικό συλλογικό τόμο «Νίκος Σκαλκώτας», έκδοση του Μουσείου Μπενάκη σε επιμέλεια Χάρη Βρόντου.

Τιμητική διάκριση σε πολιτισμικό οργανισμό που δραστηριοποιείται στην περιφέρεια: Απονέμεται ομόφωνα στο Διεθνές Μουσικό Φεστιβάλ Παξών για την εδραιωμένη πλέον και υψηλής ποιότητας δραστηριότητά του στον τομέα της σύγχρονης μουσικής και το εφαρμοσμένο παιδαγωγικό αποτέλεσμα της δράσης του.

Τιμητική διάκριση σε δισκογραφική εργασία ελληνικού ενδιαφέροντος: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφίαν στο δίσκο Ildebrando PIZZETTI: «Concerto dell Estate» του εκδοτικού οίκου NAXOS, για την επιλογή και Πρώτη Παγκόσμια ηχογράφηση από την Κρατική Ορχήστρα Θεσσαλονίκης και τον αρχιμουσικό της Μύρωνα Μιχαηλίδη έργων ελληνικής θεματικής του Ιταλού συνθέτη.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον δίσκο «Σύγχρονη Ελληνική Μουσική για Φλάουτο και Πιάνο» της εταιρείας Ίριδα.

Τιμητική διάκριση σε νέο ή πρωτοεμφανιζόμενο καλλιτέχνη: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφίαν στην υψίφωνο Λένια Ζαφειροπούλου.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στην επίσης υψίφωνο Κασσάνδρα Δημοπούλου.

Βραβεία Κριτικών Θεάτρου

Μεγάλο Βραβείο Θεάτρου: Απονέμεται ομοφώνως στον Κώστα Καζάκο για την ερμηνεία του στο έργο Μαύρο Κουτί του Γιώργου Ηλιόπουλου στο θέατρο Τζένη Καρέζη σε σκηνοθεσία Αντώνη Καλογρίδη, και κατ’ εξοχήν για την συνολική προσφορά του στο ελληνικό θέατρο.

Τιμητική Διάκριση σε Θεατρολογικό Σύγγραμμα: Δεν απονέμεται φέτος

Βραβείο Διεθνούς Θεατρικού Ρεπερτορίου: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφία στον Στάθη Λιβαθινό για τη δυναμική και ανανεωτική του ματιά στη σκηνοθεσία του έργου Βασιλιάς Ληρ του Ουίλιαμ Σαίξπηρ στο Κρατικό Θέατρο Βορείου Ελλάδος.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον Γιάννη Κακλέα για την σκηνοθεσία του έργου Το ημερολόγιο ενός απατεώνα του Αλεξάντερ Οστρόφσκι στο Εθνικό Θέατρο.

Τιμητική Διάκριση Νέου Θεατρικού Δημιουργού: Απονέμεται κατά πλειοψηφία στην Κατερίνα Ευαγγελάτου για τη σκηνοθεσία της στα έργα Λέσχη αυτοκτονίας του Ρόμπερτ Λούις Στίβενσον στο Αμφι-Θέατρο και Βόλφγκανγκ του Γιάννη Μαυριτσάκη στο Εθνικό Θέατρο, καθώς και για την ελπιδοφόρο παρουσία της στην θεατρική τέχνη.

Έπαινος απονέμεται στον Σταύρο Γασπαράτο για τη μουσική του στο έργο Μαύρη γαλήνη του Δημήτρη Μαρωνίτη.

Βραβείο Αρχαίου Δράματος: Απονέμεται ομοφώνως στον Θωμά Μοσχόπουλο για την ανανεωτική σκηνοθεσία του στο έργο Άλκηστις του Ευριπίδη στο Εθνικό Θέατρο.

  • Αθήνα – ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ, Δευτέρα 7 Δεκεμβρίου 2009  [ 17:00 ]

In Mametland, a Skirmish in Black and Whit

The New York Times: December 7, 2009

No sooner had the curtain fallen on David Mamet’s “Race” the other night than the predominantly white audience rose, smiling, to its feet. Standing ovations on Broadway have become a conditioned reflex, but this one seemed a shade more self-conscious and self-congratulatory than usual. You could argue this was the perfect coda to a play that examines the self-consciousness that descends on American white people when they talk about, or to, black people.

But that easy demonstration of approval didn’t feel like a reaction to gladden the heart of a dramatist hoping to provoke, to stir, to disturb. As the cast, led by an excellent James Spader, took its curtain calls, there was a relieved feeling that the surprisingly slack “Race,” which opened Sunday night at the Ethel Barrymore Theater, had registered well within the comfort zone of those watching it.

Though the play made pointed use of sexual and ethnic words that are still seldom heard in polite discussion, these elicited far more giggles than gasps. I couldn’t help longing for the days when a new play by Mr. Mamet so knocked the breath out of you that you wouldn’t think of standing up afterward until you were sure your legs would support you.

“Race,” directed by its author, is a definite improvement on Mr. Mamet’s previous new work on Broadway, “November,” which last year presented Nathan Lane as a sitting American president who talked like a dirty sitcom. Though the first act of “Race” is similarly propelled by barbed one-liners, its second act offers reassuring evidence of Mr. Mamet’s scalpel-edged intelligence. And the issues it raises, particularly on the ethnic varieties of shame and the universal nature of guilt, should offer ample nutrition for many a post-theater dinner conversation.

Yet despite the tension of its subject, and an abundance of the corkscrew plot twists for which Mr. Mamet is known, “Race” lacks real dramatic tension. The fine four-member cast — which also includes David Alan Grier, Richard Thomas and Kerry Washington — never acquires that crackling, syncopated urgency that makes a Mamet play sing and sting. It’s as if the topic at hand were too important to be dressed up with the distractions of style.

In its opening scene, set in the conference room of a law firm (designed with tome-laden stateliness by Santo Loquasto), “Race” suggests it might be a jurisprudence-minded variation on Mr. Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” (which was revived exhilaratingly on Broadway in 2008, also at the Barrymore). Here, instead of two movie producers conversing in the cynical insider language of their trade, we have two lawyers, equally fluent in their jaded professional lingo: Jack Lawson (the white Mr. Spader) and Henry Brown (the black Mr. Grier).

As in “Speed-the-Plow” there is also a female neophyte in the picture, who may not be as naïve as she seems and — being a woman in a play by David Mamet — is likely to throw a wrench into the masculine machinery. That’s Susan (a subdued Ms. Washington), a new African-American recruit who has arrived in time to be on the team of what promises to be the firm’s stickiest case: the defense of Charles Strickland (Mr. Thomas), a rich and famous white guy accused of raping a young black woman.

The question of Strickland’s guilt leads to a broader examination of cultural conscience and paranoia. At the same time Mr. Mamet delivers a topical detective story, with sequins among the prime evidentiary clues.

Jack and Henry’s initial interview of their prospective client allows them to deliver knowing epigrams about the amorality of the legal profession and the parasitic nature of the news media. More important, the encounter lets Mr. Mamet dissect the layers of perception that come into play any time white versus black (and man versus woman, and have versus have-not) is the center of a sensational trial. The race of each character informs these perceptions as well, though not always how you would expect.

“You want to tell me about black folks?” says Henry, baiting the distressed but indignant Charles as the play begins. There follows a list of the stereotypes that dare not speak their name when it comes to the contemplation of African-Americans by their Caucasian counterparts, and Mr. Mamet runs with increasingly elaborate riffs on that theme.

Some of these might once have shocked, but by now most have been thoroughly excavated by black stand-up comics, from Richard Pryor to Chris Rock. Know, though, that Mr. Mamet is also laying the foundation for broader, even existential questions — including the shared human need to confess and atone — and for some “gotcha” revelations in the second half. (Even with the 12-minute intermission specified in the program, the play clocks in at well under two hours.)

An assured craftsman, Mr. Mamet builds his structure with precision and with what feels like a certain weariness with his own facility. What’s lacking is the fusion of story, theme and character that lends bona fide suspense to his plays. In “American Buffalo,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “Oleanna” (which received a less-than-exemplary Broadway production this season), the dialogue is fueled by the desperation of the characters. Much of the excitement in listening to them comes from hearing how their words, initially used as tools and weapons, become their prisons.

In “Race” words accumulate less into portraits than attitudes. Obviously there’s a lot at stake for the people of “Race,” especially for Charles, whom Mr. Thomas portrays with a cunning air of masochistic martyrdom. But there’s only one real character in the play, a paucity you become fully aware of in the second act.

That’s when you realize there’s more to Jack than the stance of a predatory legal eagle who surveys humanity from contemptuous heights. (“I think all people are stupid,” Jack says, answering a question from Susan. “I don’t think blacks are exempt.”) It turns out that Jack’s own confused notions of race are embodied in one specific relationship, and that Mr. Spader has been quietly defining that relationship, and its impact on Jack’s behavior, from the get-go.

Having put in many television seasons playing cynical lawyers (“The Practice,” “Boston Legal”), Mr. Spader could play Jack with his heavy-lidded eyes closed. He keeps them wide open, and considers every inflection and gesture in creating the one role in “Race” with more layers than the who’s-scamming-whom plot. He’s good enough to make you wish that Mr. Mamet had given his other actors the same opportunity.

RACE

Written and directed by David Mamet; sets by Santo Loquasto; costumes by Tom Broecker; lighting by Brian MacDevitt; production stage manager, Matthew Silver; technical supervisor, Hudson Theatrical Associates; company manager, Bruce Klinger; associate producer, Jeremy Scott Blaustein; general manager, Richards/Climan Inc. Presented by Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Jam Theatricals, JK Productions, Peggy Hill and Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Scott M. Delman, Terry Allen Kramer/James L. Nederlander, Swinsky Deitch, Bat-Barry Productions, Ronald Frankel, James Fuld Jr., Kathleen K. Johnson, Terry Schnuck, the Weinstein Company, Marc Frankel and Jay and Cindy Gutterman/Stewart Mercer. At the Ethel Barrymore Theater, 243 West 47th Street, Manhattan; (212) 239-6200. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes.

WITH: James Spader (Jack Lawson), David Alan Grier (Henry Brown), Kerry Washington (Susan) and Richard Thomas (Charles Strickland).

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

From left, James Spader, David Alan Grier and Richard Thomas in “Race,” written and directed by David Mamet, at the Ethel Barrymore Theater.

So Many Dark Sides (November 29, 2009)
The New Season | Theater: We Can’t Stop Talking About Race in America (September 13, 2009)
Times Topics: David Mamet

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Kerry Washington plays a neophyte at a law firm tackling a racially charged case.

Can a theatre critic write a play?

David Cote Posted by David Cote, Guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 December 2009

  • New York reviewer David Cote is braced for jeers – and possibly cheers – as he unveils his ending to George Bernard Shaw’s unfinished play
George Bernard Shaw, Irish theatre critic turned playwright

Critic turned playwright … George Bernard Shaw. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty

Who is better suited than a theatre critic to write a play? After all, we spend our lives marinating in the damn things, reading them, watching them, analysing their structure and rhetoric as we chase the deadline. We know our classics, naturally, but must stay current on living authors. It’s a wonder we don’t all dream in two acts with interval.

So why am I appalled at the prospect of presenting my fatuous five-page «ending» to George Bernard Shaw‘s unfinished one-act Why She Would Not? It’s no more than a sketch, fondly spoofing Shaw’s penchant for paradox and his curious mix of secular mysticism and utopianism. My scene, and those of three other critics as well as the bona fide dramatist Israel Horovitz, will be performed on 14 December 2009 to mark the culmination of Project Shaw’s ambitious goal: readings of the entire Shaw oeuvre. Producer and director David Staller solicited a group of critics to provide endings to the parable-like comedy that Shaw left incomplete at his death in 1950.

Staller targeted critics for a reason (and not just because we’re good drinking companions): from 1895 to 98, as a critic in the Saturday Review, Shaw carved a wide, bloody path through the London theatre scene as an iconoclastic champion of social realism and a tireless mocker of romanticism. He bowdlerised Shakespeare (he was particularly hard on Henry Irving) and began writing plays out of a sense of mission, to fill an ideological and aesthetic void. He was the supreme example of critic turned artist.

And he’s not the only one. In March, stage vulture Nicholas de Jongh flew the Evening Standard coop after the West End premiere of his Gielgud-inspired Plague Over England. Last year, Michael Billington directed Lamda students in a Harold Pinter triple bill. The New Yorker’s John Lahr co-created Elaine Stritch: At Liberty with the diva herself and took it to Broadway and the West End. Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal penned the libretto to Paul Moravec’s The Letter, which premiered this summer at the Santa Fe Opera House. Was it possible for me to join such illustrious company?

In truth, playwriting is not new to me: for two years I’ve been hammering away at a full-length drama, also commissioned by Staller and Project Shaw. I’m now in the middle of the third draft, and by January 2010 the play should be ready for an invited reading.

If this Shaw vignette is causing me sleepless nights, it’s because I’m more accustomed to sitting in the darkness, scribbling like an attentive, literate mole. We critics live vicariously, amassing experiences without really doing anything. My words have never provoked guffaws or sobs from an audience. To touch strangers and unite them in a theatrical moment: I’ve never known that joy.

Race… [Barrymore Theatre, New York]

Writer and director David Mamet

Breaking taboos … playwright and director David Mamet. Photograph: Jill Connelly/Reuters

David Mamet wrote one of the most controversial plays of the late 20th century with Oleanna, in which a female student accuses her professor of sexual harassment. And in the Broadway season that includes a revival of that 1992 drama, Mamet has added a savage companion piece dealing with another heat-seeking political topic, declared in the play’s title: race.

As the posters jokingly note, a dramatist celebrated for introducing expletives to the American theatre now tackles a truly taboo four-letter word. Race, as one character says, is «the single most incendiary topic in our history». Another speaker observes that «only black people can speak about race,» a carefully placed self-defensive punch from a white playwright entering this verbally and politically charged arena.

As in Oleanna, Mamet approaches the subject through an accusation. A white tycoon, charged with raping a young black woman, has selected to represent him a law firm in which one of the two partners is African-American, as is the clerk working for the attorneys on the case. The play’s strategy is to examine – and to tempt an audience to second-guess – the part that racial background may play in the decision over whether to represent the alleged racist rapist. The white partner contends that the case is unwinnable because white jurors will fear being accused of racism and black jurors of treachery if they acquit.

This line is also clearly a warning to the audience – again, as in Oleanna, cast as pseudo-jurors – to police their own reactions to the situations presented. As cleverly as in The Winslow Boy, the Terence Rattigan courtroom drama Mamet once adapted as a movie, the interpretation of details – a red dress, a comment overheard through a motel wall – shifts.

Above such twists, though, Mamet is most concerned with the power and treachery of language: a line of dialogue vital to the prosecution case is cynically rewritten by the defence. Mamet’s larger contention is that attempts to create a more equal and tolerant society have made race an unsayable word. The writer, who has faced claims that his plays require TV-style bleep machines, brilliantly contrives here a moment in which the single most taboo sexual expletive is ignored by an audience which then gasps at the word «black».

Mamet directs a swift, gripping, 100-minute staging cast with sharp attention to TV history. James Spader is known for Sex, Lies and Videotape and the TV series Boston Legal, while, as the defendant, Richard Thomas brings the moral baggage of his long involvement in The Waltons. Kerry Washington, as the law clerk on whom the play turns, appeared in Neil La Bute’s film Lakeview Terrace, a thought-provoking racial drama from a white dramatist, and has here found another for her Broadway debut. Mamet remains American theatre’s most urgent five-letter word.

Dangerous Liaisons

  • Tennessee Williams and David Mamet on the damage that we do.

Southern belle: Cate Blanchett is pitch perfect as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe.

Southern belle: Cate Blanchett is pitch perfect as Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe.

When we first encounter Cate Blanchett as Blanche DuBois in the Sydney Theatre Company’s thrilling production of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” (directed by Liv Ullmann, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), she is literally backed into a corner, sitting on her small valise at the shadowy edge of the stage. As the Ink Spots’ “If I Didn’t Care” plays, Blanche takes a short, almost imperceptible breath, then sets off, in a white suit and a floppy white sun hat, for 632 Elysian Fields, where her younger sister, Stella Kowalski (the excellent Robin McLeavy), lives with her husband, Stanley (Joel Edgerton). Blanche’s eyes flutter, and the valise shifts in her hand, almost too heavy for her taut, bony frame to carry. Even before we know her story, her nervy bearing tells us something about her history of abdication. As the play unfolds, the extent of her losses becomes clear: she has lost her husband, her family home, her job, her good name, her purity, and, ultimately, her sanity. This will be her last stand.

Blanche is the Everest of modern American drama, a peak of psychological complexity and emotional range, which many stars have attempted and few have conquered. Of the performances I’ve seen in recent years, Jessica Lange’s lacked theatrical amperage, Natasha Richardson’s was too buff, and Rachel Weisz’s, in this year’s overpraised Donmar Warehouse production in London, was too callow. The challenge for the actress taking on Blanche lies in fathoming her spiritual exhaustion, her paradoxical combination of backbone and collapse. Blanche has worn herself out, bearing her burden of guilt and grief, and facing down the world with a masquerade of Southern gaiety and grace. She is looking—as Williams himself was when he wrote the play—for “a cleft in the rock of the world that I could hide in.”

Blanchett, with her alert mind, her informed heart, and her lithe, patrician silhouette, gets it right from the first beat. “I’ve got to keep hold of myself,” Blanche says, her spirits sinking with disappointment at the threadbare squalor of the one-room apartment her sister shares with her working-class husband. “Only Poe! Only Mr. Edgar Allan Poe!—could do it justice! Out here I suppose is the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir!” she drawls to Stella, flapping her long birdlike fingers in the direction of the window and the railroad tracks beyond. Blanchett doesn’t make the usual mistake of foreshadowing Blanche’s end at the play’s beginning; she allows Blanche a slow, fascinating decline. And she is compelling both as a brazen flirt and as an amusing bitch. When Stella explains that Stanley is Polish, for instance, Blanche replies, “They’re something like the Irish, aren’t they? Only not so—highbrow.” It’s part of Blanchett’s great accomplishment that she makes Blanche’s self-loathing as transparent and dramatic as her self-regard. She hits every rueful note of humor and regret in Williams’s dialogue. In one desperate scene, in which Blanche explains her sordid past to Stanley’s friend Mitch (Tim Richards), who has been disabused of his romantic interest in her, she takes a slug of Southern Comfort. “Southern Comfort!” she exclaims. “What is that, I wonder?” Dishevelled, sitting on the floor by the front door, she fesses up to Mitch. “Yes, I had many intimacies with strangers,” she says, in a voice fatigued by heartbreak. I don’t expect to see a better performance of this role in my lifetime.

I will, however, see a better set. Although Ullmann gives the production many masterly touches—there is no Big Easy folderol here and almost no allegorical flimflammery—she has allowed Ralph Myers to lumber his set with an ungainly fire escape, which cramps the left side of the stage and inhibits important scenes played there, and with a sort of lumpish second story of mostly black cinder block. The set has not a whiff of lyrical New Orleans about it; the play might as well be taking place in downtown Cleveland. The bathroom where Blanche takes the long, luxurious soaks that so enrage Stanley is a makeshift construction inside the main room. All the couple’s arguments about Blanche and her parlous situation happen no more than a yard away from where she’s making her ablutions; it takes a powerful suspension of disbelief to imagine that she can’t hear everything that’s being said. The design’s one substantial asset is the way it maximizes the sense of claustrophobia, turning the apartment into a little cave of carnality.

The cunning and dynamic Stanley is the phallic force at the center of Williams’s tragedy. Edgerton, with his particular low-key roughness, is superb in the role, and although he doesn’t have Marlon Brando’s sexual charisma—who could?—he manages the rare feat of shedding that iconic shadow. Edgerton is not a big man or an especially brawny one. He has small, watchful eyes. His face belies a brusque and wary nature that veers between cruelty and sentimentality. In one memorable scene, when Stella asks Stanley to clear his plate after the fiasco of Blanche’s birthday party, Edgerton’s Stanley spits food in her face; in another, he sits, sopping wet, on the edge of the tub that his poker-playing buddies tossed him into, in poignant drunken remorse over having punched his pregnant wife in the face.

Ullmann’s direction delivers so much pleasure that it’s a shame that, at the finale, she doesn’t deliver the play’s meaning. In her staging of the rape scene that drives Blanche over the edge, Blanche collapses on the bed, only to have her degradation prettified by an invented postcoital dumb show. When, some weeks later, the demented Blanche is taken to a sanitarium, she doesn’t, contrary to Williams’s stage directions, get herself up in the regalia of normalcy, a performance of dignity that, in other stagings, gives genuine pathos to her exit. Instead, still in her slip and bare feet, clutching the doctor with both hands, Blanche is led into the bright light of day like a loony Daisy Mae from “Li’l Abner” ’s Dogpatch. Ullmann’s reductive decisions build to vulgar sentimentality, with Blanche isolated in a spotlight and lost in her own internal music as the curtain falls. Although this doesn’t spoil the evening, it’s a woeful miscalculation. Williams’s play ends not with Blanche but with the Kowalskis’ sexual reconciliation. The final image—unseen on Ullmann’s stage—has, in a sort of Renaissance pictorial grouping, Stella holding her baby, while Stanley kneels at her feet. She sobs as he undoes the buttons of her blouse and murmurs, “Now, now, love.” Blanche has been sacrificed to the Kowalskis’ desire and collusion. The play ends with a line never heard in this production. “This game is seven-card stud,” one of Stanley’s poker-playing buddies says, dealing a new hand. The game of life, Williams is telling us, goes on at all costs.

Ρίτσαρντ Φόρμαν «Ιdiot Savant» στο θέατρο Ρublic της Νέας Υόρκης

ΝΕΑ ΥΟΡΚΗ. Αίσθηση προξενεί πάλι ο συγγραφέας σκηνοθέτης Ρίτσαρντ Φόρμαν, ταγμένος στην πρωτοπορία εδώ και σαράντα χρόνια, με το νέο του έργο Ιdiot Savant στο θέατρο Ρublic (ως τις 13 Δεκεμβρίου). Οπως διαβάζουμε ο Φόρμαν επανέρχεται για μία ακόμη φορά στη διερεύνηση των προσφιλών του πνευματικοϋπαρξιακών θεμάτων, τη δύναμη της γλώσσας, το μυστήριο της ελεύθερης βούλησης και άλλα παρόμοια. Ολα ωστόσο γίνονται μέσα σε αυθεντικό κλίμα παραλογισμού και συνοδεύονται από απροσδόκητους ήχους, φωτισμούς, σκηνικά, αντικείμενα και πλάσματα, μεταξύ των οποίων και μια ευμεγέθης πάπια. Παρ΄ όλα αυτά η κριτική αντιμετωπίζει με πολλή σοβαρότητα το όλο εγχείρημα που είναι, φαίνεται, φιλοσοφικού περιεχομένου και σουρεαλιστικής μορφής. Τον τόνο στο έργο τον δίνει ίσως ο ίδιος ο τίτλος του, Ιdiot Savant, ιατρικός όρος που σημαίνει τον πνευματικά καθυστερημένο ο οποίος διαθέτει μία συγκεκριμένη διανοητική δεξιότητα. Ο ηθοποιός που υποδύεται τον idiot savant είναι διάσημος από τον κινηματογράφο αλλά διαθέτει επίσης νεωτερικό θεατρικό παρελθόν, έχοντας διατελέσει μέλος του πρωτοποριακού θιάσου Wooster Group (ο οποίος παρουσίασε προ ημερών στο Παρίσι το Vieux Carr του Τενεσί Γουίλιαμς). Είναι ο εικονιζόμενος Γουίλεμ Νταφόε, πλαισιωμένος από τις Ελίνα Λέβενσον και την Αλένκα Κρέγκερ. Οι τρεις τους, διαβάζουμε, διεκπεραιώνουν με πραγματική απόλαυση και μεγάλη πειστικότητα τους αλλόκοτους διαλόγους του Φόρμαν, αν και η φωνή του συγγραφέα, εκτός σκηνής, τούς έχει έγκαιρα προειδοποιήσει: «Μήνυμα προς τους ηθοποιούς: Μην προσπαθήσετε να προωθήσετε αυτό το έργο. Αφήστε το να συρθεί αργά πάνω στη σκηνή, αβοήθητο, χωρίς προφανή σκοπό». [ars… brevis, Το Βήμα, 06/12/2009]

Talk Talk

Richard Foreman puts language onstage.

by Hilton Als, The New Yprker, November 16, 2009

Elina Löwensohn, Willem Dafoe, and Alenka Kraigher in “Idiot Savant.” Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe.

Elina Löwensohn, Willem Dafoe, and Alenka Kraigher in “Idiot Savant.” Photograph by Brigitte Lacombe.

Uh-oh. Here comes an ominous-looking thought. Three of them, actually, all dressed the same: black suits, white shirts, black shoes. Each of them is called Servant, and they’re among the first people we see in the elegiac and beautiful “Idiot Savant,” by the writer and director Richard Foreman (at the Public). Collectively, the Servants (Joel Israel, Eric Magnus, and Daniel Allen Nelson) remind you of those self-replicating guys in “The Matrix,” but without the sunglasses and the stilted speeches. In fact, the Servants don’t have much to say, but we know that they’re essential to Foreman’s vision of things, because if his dense, hilarious stage work is about anything at all it’s his state of mind, his rapidly blinking consciousness. “All of my plays are about my attempt to stage my particular rhythm of perception, which is to say, admittedly, the plays are about me,” he has written.

Scenes from Foreman’s biography: He was born in New York in 1937, to upper-middle-class Jewish parents. He graduated from Brown University and received his M.F.A. in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. As a student, Foreman wrote a number of naturalistic dramas that followed the traditional Western model of conflict followed by catharsis. But, after a while, he found that he wasn’t interested in plays like that. Back in New York, he encountered the work of the filmmaker and performer Jack Smith and the composer La Monte Young, who, along with several other artists, were producing movies and music and theatre that not only unfolded in real time but also deliberately exaggerated time and space through minimalism and repetition. Eventually, Foreman became a part of this post-dramatic performance scene, staging pieces that centered on language, rather than action, and expanded the audience’s idea of what a play could be.

Foreman uses language like paint; he sketches a line, or drips some words, the better to emphasize their thingness. Rarely does he ask speech to do anything as simple as clarify a point or establish a character’s motivation. He embraces mystification and flux. In the introduction to his 1989 play “Lava” (Foreman’s essays on his own work are as brilliant and as elegantly composed as George Bernard Shaw’s), he wrote, “There are writers who despair that a gap exists between the self and the words that come, but for me that gap is the field of all creativity—it’s an ecstatic field rather than a field of despair. . . . It’s the unfathomable from which everything pours forth.”

In “Idiot Savant,” the Servants, standing as stiff as boards, sometimes aim bows and arrows at the title character’s head. They are his superego, the self-conscious meanies who want to control the Idiot Savant (Willem Dafoe, in a great, expansive performance) and steer him away from his obsession with the only thing he can do: talk and think about language. In a way, the Idiot Savant knows that he’s limited. When he takes the stage dressed like an eighteenth-century Japanese samurai, with his hair pulled up on top of his head, his mouth is plugged. As he stares out at us, we realize that he is of a piece with Foreman’s archaic stage design: the walls are dark; chandeliers provide the illumination; a railing separates the stage from the audience. After a minute or two, a woman named Marie (the astonishing Alenka Kraigher) slinks onstage. She’s dressed in a black, Mary Queen of Scots-type dress with elaborate gold cuffs. With her long neck and her pale skin, she’s a kind of dominatrix-as-marionette. She moves and speaks slowly, gazing at the gag in the Idiot Savant’s mouth:

MARIE: Oh Idiot Savant—why stuff that provocative dental instrument into your mouth—impeding all possible “human speech”? (He takes it out. Pause)—Thank God, you’ve removed it.
IDIOT SAVANT: As a result, dear lady—am I no longer capable of saving us from magic words?
MARIE: But they occur very infrequently.
IDIOT SAVANT: Is it true?
MARIE: Have they begun happening?
IDIOT SAVANT: Are we under attack, Madame?
MARIE: What makes chosen words—magic?
IDIOT SAVANT: Who among us is prepared for an explanation?
MARIE: (Pause, thinks) Me?
IDIOT SAVANT: Me?

In Foreman’s world, the female characters are often the provocateurs. While the Idiot Savant is repeatedly left scratching his head (Dafoe makes his character’s confusion physical by crashing about the stage like a short-tempered iguana), it’s Marie who moves things along emotionally, despite the offstage voice (Richard Foreman) warning the actors at the start of the play not to “try to carry this play forward. Let it slowly creep over the stage, with no help, with no end in view.” Foreman says that he finds the exaggerated, carefully articulated “ ‘silent movie’ style of acting . . . more profound and penetrating than naturalistic acting.” And Dafoe and Kraigher work within this style—Kraigher is a taller, more willowy Lillian Gish in the 1928 silent classic “The Wind”—but they push against it as well. They can’t help it; they’re stars, who make the most of the constraints that Foreman imposes on them—a tight script, a cramped set, a range of offstage sounds, from a woman screaming “Watch out!” to a telephone ringing dully—while announcing, through their performances, Fuck it, we have personalities, too. Kraigher was born in Slovenia, and she’s a filmmaker as well as an actor. Her accent adds a lovely extra layer of otherness to her character’s French-sounding locutions. In casting her, Foreman is playing with the very notion of speech and how it sounds to foreign ears. (The audience is foreign to Marie, not vice versa.) Her banter with Dafoe is the primary “action” of the play. Like Kate Manheim and Kyle deCamp, who have appeared in other Foreman plays, Kraigher is perfectly cast, and unforgettable, because she doesn’t give in to his ideas completely—or to the Idiot Savant’s. No man will be the boss of her. She provides the necessary resistance that makes this comedic drama just that.

«Το γυναικείο είδος» είναι γρήγορο και αστείο, στο «Βouze Co-operativa»

«Το γυναικείο είδος» είναι γρήγορο και αστείο

Πόσο φεμινίστριες είστε; Το έργο της Τζοάνα Μάρεϊ-Σμιθ «Το γυναικείο είδος» βάζει σε δοκιμασία το φεμινιστικό σας αίσθημα αλλά και τις σχέσεις με το άλλο φύλο, ενώ ανατρέπει με έξυπνο τρόπο τις θεωρίες περί ανδρών και γυναικών.

Πρόκειται για μια εύγλωττη, εύγευστη κωμωδία, που ισορροπεί αριστοτεχνικά στο μεταίχμιο του σοβαρού και του κωμικού, αποδεικνύοντας ότι το γυναικείο είδος δεν είναι μόνο πιο θανατηφόρο αλλά και πιο αστείο από το ανδρικό. Η παράσταση που έστησε η Κατερίνα Νικολοπούλου στο «Βooze Co-operativa» (θεατρική ομάδα «Αλυπίας Πράξεις») είναι διασκεδαστική, γρήγορη και δεν πλατειάζει, αν και στηρίζεται στον λόγο (μετάφραση Αμυ Πασσά).

Η ηρωίδα του έργου, Μάργκο Μέισον, διάσημη συγγραφέας, πρωτοπόρος του κινήματος της γυναικείας απελευθέρωσης και ατρόμητη λόγια, έγραψε πριν από 30 χρόνια το βιβλίο-καταπέλτη «Το Ευφυές Αιδοίο», που έγινε γρήγορα μπεστ σέλερ και καταξιώθηκε διεθνώς σαν το μανιφέστο του φεμινισμού.

Καθώς βρίσκεται στην εξοχική της κατοικία παλεύοντας με την προθεσμία του νέου της βιβλίου από την μπαλκονόπορτα εισβάλλουν ένας ένας πέντε άνθρωποι.

Ο καθένας κάτι έχει να μοιραστεί, κάτι να διαπραγματευτεί, κάτι να διεκδικήσει, κάτι να αποκαλύψει στη Μάργκο ή στους υπόλοιπους τέσσερις.

Ανάμεσά τους εισβάλλει και η κόρη μίας εκ των πιο πιστών και αφοσιωμένων ακολούθων της και χωρίς να το καταλάβει βρίσκεται δεμένη με χειροπέδες στην καρέκλα του γραφείου της. Υπό την απειλή όπλου η Μάργκο ανακαλύπτει ότι η μητέρα της νεαρής εισβολέως αυτοκτόνησε στις ράγες του τρένου έχοντας στο στήθος της το βιβλίο «Το Ευφυές Αιδοίο», που τόσο την είχε στιγματίσει.

Ο εγωκεντρισμός της ηρωίδας, η σχέση της με την κόρη της, η σχέση της κόρης με τον άντρα της, του εκδότη με τη συγγραφέα, του ταξιτζή με τις γυναίκες γενικότερα στήνουν τους χαρακτήρες του έργου.

Η Αννέτα Παπαθανασίου υποδύεται με ευελιξία και πειστικότητα τη συγγραφέα η οποία, αυταρχική στην αρχή, δεμένη σε μια καρέκλα στη συνέχεια, προσπαθεί να «επιβληθεί» με τις καυστικές παρατηρήσεις της.

Στον ρόλο της κόρης η νεαρή Χριστίνα Καπάδοχα, βάζει με την ερμηνεία της υποθήκη για το μέλλον. Στους υπόλοιπους ρόλους οι: Αμυ Πασσά, Δημήτρης Μοσχονάς, Χρήστος Συρμακέζης, Στέφανος Αθανασόπουλος (παραστάσεις έως 23 του μήνα κάθε Δευτέρα και Τρίτη. Από 1η έως 18 Ιανουαρίου από Τετάρτη έως Κυριακή).

Αντ. Καρ., ΕΘΝΟΣ, 07/12/2009

Το RENT σήκωσε αυλαία στο θέατρο «Χώρα»

Οκτώ φίλοι, μια παρέα περιθωριακών, δύο συγκάτοικοι, έρωτες, ανατροπές, μια ακροβασία ανάμεσα στη ζωή και το θάνατο… Ο λόγος για το πολυβραβευμένο ροκ μιούζικαλ της Νέας Υόρκης RENT, του Jonathan Larson, που για πρώτη φορά στην Ελλάδα σήκωσε αυλαία στο θέατρο «Χώρα» σε σκηνοθεσία της Θέμιδος Μαρσέλλου και σε μια εξαιρετική απόδοση κειμένου του Γιώργου Καπουντζίδη. Δεν πρόκειται για ένα κλασικό μιούζικαλ, αλλά για μια ροκ στάση ζωής! Η επίσημη πρεμιέρα της παράτασης έγινε παρουσία σημαντικών εκπροσώπων από τον καλλιτεχνικό, επιχειρηματικό, μουσικό και δημοσιογραφικό κόσμο, ενώ πάρα πολλοί ηθοποιοί έδωσαν το «παρών» για να απολαύσουν τους συναδέλφους τους σε μια παράταση-φαινόμενο, σε ένα από τα μακροβιότερα μιούζικαλ που έχει παιχτεί με επιτυχία σε 40 χώρες!

Οι ηθοποιοί, Αργύρης Αγγέλου, Πάνος Μουζουράκης, Άντα Λιβιτσάνου, Αντιγόνη Ψυχράμη, Νατάσσα Καρακατσάνη, Μίνως Θεοχάρης, Λίνα Εξάρχου, Χρήστος Γεωργαλής, Βασίλης Αξιώτης, Μαριάννα Γερασιμίδου, Τάσος Φωτιάδης, Στέργιος Νταουσανάκης έδωσαν τον καλύτερό τους εαυτό επί σκηνής, κερδίζοντας το χειροκρότημα των θεατών, ενώ το πάρτι συνεχίστηκε μετά την παράσταση στο CoYoT Bar του θεάτρου «Χώρα» όπου όλοι διασκέδασαν μέχρι πρωίας! Το RENT αναμένεται να αφήσει τη σφραγίδα του για χρόνια στα θεατρικά δρώμενα της Αθήνας, φέρνοντας την υπογραφή της παραγωγής της Highway Productions και του Γιώργου Λυκιαρδόπουλου. [ΑΠΟΓΕΥΜΑΤΙΝΗ, 05/12/2009]