The Lavdakides story by Euripides as “raw material”. Recombining the tragedy motifs with sound and movement. A study on classic material, a journey into its human, timeless source within our inner world. A dance / theatre proposal, a careful look into the realm of the paradoxical order of contrasts and symbols.
EXCERPTS FROM THE PERFORMANCE BOOKLET TEXTS BY PETROS THEODOROU, OCTOBER 1999
INITIAL CONCEPT / MUSIC
MOVEMENT / CHOREOGRAPHY
SET AND COSTUMES
DRAMATIC PROCESSING / CONNECTING TEXTS
CONNECTING TEXTS INTERPRETATION
Dimitris Karellis, Eleni Fotinaki, Malama Synapidou
Amalia Strinopoulou (Iocasta),
Efi Tsolakidou (Antigone – Menoikeas),
Panayota Tsekoura (Eteocles),
Afrodite Georgiadou (Polyneikes),
Eleni Liapa (Warrior – Creon),
Kostas Petrides (Oedipus), (all dancers: Teiresias – messenger)
This performance was first shown at DIMITRIA festival, at ANETON theatre, on the 27th, 28th and 29th of November 1999. In order for this performance to take place, part of the dancers who worked with Petros Theodorou came from the group “CHOROKYTARO”.
Connecting texts by Apostolos Apostolidis are a free combination of excerpts from the Old and New Testaments and poetry by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, T.S.Eliot, M. Anagnostakis, St. Vavouris, A. Dimoula, Th. Papathanassopoulos and G. Papastamos Translations by K.Ch.Myris, T. Roussos, K. Topouzis.
Recordings and digital processing took place at IHOKITARO studio.
This dance / theatre work was photographed during all the period that it was created by Nikos Pandis, Panayiotis Moulinos, Michalis Stathenas. The photographs of the rehearsals included in the printed program and the portraits are created by Nikos Pandis. The photographs which were used for the media were digitally processed by Sassa Mavrou.
“Phoenician Women” is the widely used original translation of the title of this Euripides’s work. For various reasons, in the English text we preferred to construct a phoneme based on the sound of every letter of the original title in modern Greek
The CD with the music of this performance as an independent work, entitled “PHOENISSES”, is produced by EDO (Agiou Nikolaou 51, 38221 Volos, Greece, tel:(24210)88232, email@example.com.
THE HISTORY BEHING THE MUSIC AND THE PERFORMANCE
The starting point for this work was the music I composed for “Phoenisses”, which was directed by Dimitris Karellis and staged in 1995 by “Techni”, a group in Kilkis. In the program, then, I have stated: “… I have always believed that the main motifs of a tragedy, i.e. feelings, needs, attitudes, conflicts, etc, reach clearly the most profound layers of the human soul. We are still touched by these tragedies because their motifs are in a unique way totally uncovered. Because there is nothing to balance their tremendous strength. This wonderful collaboration with Dimitris Karellis offered me an opportunity I had always hoped for: to work with motifs, with material from a tragedy, seeking its deeper “sound”. To see these tragedy motifs as the scream of a naked, uncovered soul. To try to bring this scream in our real world of today as the “sound” of a composition…”
That was a time when I was thoroughly exploring my compositional tools. I had discovered a number of things that decisively influenced my music. Special uses of music technology, use of sound material generated accidentally, the infinite possibilities of synthesized sound when combined with samples (digitally processed sounds) and overlapping sound layers, etc. All these were new elements both for my way of composing and concerning expression and technique issues. This pathway, concerning my approach to music technology, had opened with “ONAR” and evolved with “MUSICA PRACTICA”. At that period it seemed in a sense completed for that stage. At the same period I dared very risky uses of references to the traditional Greek sound. It was something that I always wanted to do.
1994 – 1996 was a very fruitful time for me. With all this new sound material and with so many new creative orientations, I had the idea of creating a performance based on Euripides’s “Phoenisses” that would consist just of sound and movement, without any words (except a few connecting texts).
In the beginning of 1997, when we established the ENTROPIA dance / theatre group with dancer Efi Tsolakidou, the idea of a dance / theatre approach of this famous tragedy progressed and a clear general framework was created concerning the structure and style of the work.
In the beginning of 1998, I thought to present “PHOENISSES” also as an autonomous, stand – alone and complete audio work. “Music Kitchen” took on the production of the CD. Yorgos Roilidis was the producer and Charalambos Ioakimidis the technician; they undoubtedly added a new dimension to the material.
In the middle of 1999, “Music Kitchen”, for reasons beyond its control, cannot complete the production of the CD. At the same time, the performance, entitled “myth fragments: Phoenisses” was included in the program of the “DIMITRIA” festival, for 1999. Dancer and choreographer Amalia Strinopoulou built the final choreography and movement aspect of the material and influenced very positively its core with her creative approach.
In the summer of 1999, in order to meet the needs of the performance, Apostolos Apostolidis composed the connecting texts. The whole thing gained a new brilliance. The texts bind the work together, a special poetic atmosphere and a deeply human religious feeling now permeate it. A circle that started in 1995 seems to be closing when Dimitris Karellis finds the time to record some of these texts.
At the same time, Olympia Sideridou added her inspiration with the set and costumes she prepared with characteristic simplicity and sensitivity. Stratos Koutrakis had already started thinking about the lighting and the special aspects of this work.
The choreography was completed and the dancers brought it to life in their own special manner. New stimuli, new prospects. New reasons for further additions, changes and processing of the sound material. Everything was completed at a truly fast pace through exhausting work.
Our working conditions were literally ideal as far as we were concerned as a team. The only dark but decisive point was the virtually non-existent production funds. The “DIMITRIA” festival, without any excuse except its general “new” economic policy, diminished the promised support to the one third of what we had initially discussed. The festival refused any other kind of support, not even to prolong the days of the performance.
Still, we could not give up the project after 6 months of such intense work. Yet, we continued in a destructive atmosphere of financial anxiety. In a mood of self-sarcasm, as we all worked “heroically” in a quixotic manner for the nth time in our artistic lives.
Furthermore, on the same month, its sound part, as an independent work, was finally produced as a CD, by EDO. “PHOENISSES” have reached the end of their journey with all their possible faces. And after all this trouble, not before time, I think…
OUR MANNER OF WORK
This performance is not a “staging” of the “Phoenisses” by Euripides nor is it an exact presentation of the tragedy through the dance language. Ever since the conception of the initial idea and all through the development of this work, we related to the tragedy only as a thematic base. Only as a general framework and a starting point in order to express on this foundation motifs of the tragedy and broader motifs of the human nature:
The life-giving force of humans and the earth. The need for the Other. The violence and vanity of authority. The grandeur and pettiness of the human soul. Its need and weakness to compromise everything in a harmonious microcosmos, surrounded by a hostile world, full of sharp points.
Thus, gradually, through working on these motifs and freely using the tragedy events, this work was created. For us it is a profound and thorough study on Euripides’ material. It is, as well, as a proposal for a dance / theatre and sound approach that is, above all, a contemporary approach to a timeless and classical material.
IN OUR PROPOSAL
Words are absent (except for those of the connecting texts). Instead, we used sound and movement for our stage “text” language.
We did not built our performance just out of the main events of the specific tragedy. We also included secondary events which inspired us. Most of the times they refer to the past of the main persons and are not part of the central plot (e.g. the wedding of Oedipus and Iocasta, the Cadmus’ warriors -Spartoi – birth from the soil, etc).
Time and space are warped. For example, while in “Earth” there is Cadmus and the warriors who are born from the soil, in the next image there is Iocasta giving birth to Oedipus, getting married to him and giving birth to their children.
The characters are intertwined in a different manner and new “roles” as well new personae are created. For example, the last one of the Spartoi, becomes the Warrior, a demon like being, an incarnation of war and authority. This is a role that does not exist in the original tragedy but supported perfectly the goals of the performance.
Some personae are excluded or condensed. Ismene and the Tutor do not exist. Teiresias and the messenger merge in one person – a being that “knows” and observes. The Warrior becomes Creon. Antigone becomes Menoikeas, etc. All these roles and personae are interchanged as the dancers change their clothing and movement.
Events unfold differently from the original plot. Oedipus finds his sight again having completed his punishment for his involuntary crime. Iocasta and the two dead brothers reappear as ghosts after their death, etc.
Furthermore, it was not within our goals to “guide” the audience to recognize in our performance the original tragedy personae. Instead, we just wanted to create on stage some conceptual “patterns” by linking characters, concepts, symbols, relationships. For example, “Iocasta-parent-compromise of contrasts”. “Creon-Warrior-authority”. “Antigone-Menoikeas-self-sacrifice”. “Creon-parent-loss mourning”. “Earth-birth-Iocasta-Creon”. “Teiresias-messenger-observation-knowledge” “Eteocles-Polyneikis-bonding-vanity”, etc. As each spectator watches the performance, he/she may sense these abstract “patterns” and may invest them with his/her personal meaning and importance.
“PHOENISSES” went through a long process of adventures and trouble before becoming a compact disk and a performance.
En route it encountered and was influenced by many people and I consider myself very lucky. And this because I believe that in Greece there is now a new cultural Middle Age in the name of consumerism and public relations.
So, in such dark and difficult times, I am surely lucky that I have shared a purely creative vision with excellent collaborators in such an enthusiastic manner.
Still, from the depths of my heart, from the sound of this disk, from the truth of these images and the moments of this performance, I warmly thank all those involved in this short, wonderful story…
THE THEBAN CYCLE MYTHS AND THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LAVDAKIDES’ FAMILY
Thebes was founded by Cadmus when he killed a dragon and sowed his teeth in the soil. His warriors, “Spartoi” (the sown ones), were born from the earth.
Later, Laios ruled as the king of Thebes. He married Iocasta and Oedipus was born.
According to the omen their son would be a threat for the kingdom and the king’s life, so Laios deserted the newborn.
Oedipus, however, was saved and killed Laios without knowing he was his father. He rid Thebes of the sphinx, a mythical monster and married Iocasta without knowing she was his mother.
Eteocles, Polyneikes, Ismene and Antigone were born from this involuntarily incestuous marriage.
When Oedipus found out that his wife was his own mother, he blinded himself and kept himself in the palace in order for his sin to be forgotten.
In Thebes it was agreed that the two brothers would reign on alternate years. An important person in all this was Creon, Iocasta’s brother. … Eteocles did not hand over the throne to Polyneikes when his turn came. The latter brought troops from Argos and held Thebes under siege (this is where “Phoenisses” start).
Iocasta tried in vain to reconcile her two sons.
Teiresias, the seer, said that in order for Thebes to be saved from the war between the two brothers, the son of Creon, Menoikeas, had to be sacrificed. Despite Creon’s objections Menoikeas is voluntarily sacrificed.
The two brothers decided for the war to finish by duel. The winner would take Thebes.
They were both killed. When Iocasta hears of their death, she too kills herself.
Creon became ruler of Thebes. He sent Oedipus into exile as responsible for the curse against the city and the clan. He gave orders for the body of Polyneikes not to be buried because he had held his home city under siege.
Antigone announced that she was going to defy Creon’s orders and accompany her father into exile.
PERSONAE AND EVENTS IN THE 11 IMAGES OF THE PERFORMANCE
Iocasta, Antigone-Menoikeas, Eteocles, Polyneikes, Warrior-Creon, Teiresias-messenger, Oedipus
IMAGE 1 / EARTH
The Spartoi (the sown ones) are born from the earth and Thebans will be their descendants. The last one of the Spartoi is the Warrior, who incarnates the idea of war, of authority. The women dancers appear as a group of prisoners (Phoenician Women) who will reconstruct the persons and events of the tragedy.
IMAGE 2 / BIRTH
Iocasta gives birth to Oedipus who mates with her. Antigone, Eteocles and Polyneikes are born. Teiresias-messenger watches.
IMAGE 3 / DOMINATION
The two brothers enjoy their blood bond. The Warrior gives them the scepter and pushes them into conflict despite Antigone’s objection. Oedipus blinds himself. The Warrior turns into Creon.
IMAGE 4 / EMBRACE
Iocasta urges the brothers to reconcile with the help of Antigone. The men try in vain to remember their bond.
IMAGE 5 / SACRIFICE
Creon with his son Menoikeas. Teiresias orders that Menoikeas should be sacrificed despite his father’s objections. Menoikeas is voluntarily sacrificed. Creon mourns.
IMAGE 6 / BATTLE
The women dancers, as Phoenician Women, present battle scenes. The idea of conflict, of war. Image 7/memory: Teiresias-messenger considers the death-toll and recollects the battle. He tries to get away in panic. The Warrior mocks him and stops him.
IMAGE 7 / MEMORY
Teiresias-messenger considers the death-toll and recollects the battle. He tries to get away in panic. The Warrior mocks him and stops him.
IMAGE 8 / HOPE
Iocasta, Antigone and Oedipus envisage a world of harmony and reconciliation. Teiresias-messenger surprises them and announces the duel between the two brothers.
IMAGE 9 / DUEL
Polyneikes and Eteocles retracing in vain their childhood. Their duel, encouraged by the Warrior. Oedipus seems to be receiving the blows himself. The two brothers kill each other. Iocasta arrives and upon seeing her sons dead she kills herself.
IMAGE 10 / FATE
The Warrior-Creon becomes king. Dead Iocasta tries in vain to give birth to her two sons again. Creon wants to remove Polyneikes body and Antigone stops him.
IMAGE 11 / BEGINNING
Oedipus finds his sight again. Creon remembers his son Menoikeas. Oedipus goes away with Antigone and dead Iocasta.