From the NORA RALLI
We read: War in Gaza. We see: absurd accuracy everywhere. We feel: fascism, normal fascism, emerging again but not as a criminal organization only, but either as institutional deviation of an elected government (“Instead of dealing with things that really interest the Greeks, they deal with things that concern no one but their microcosm. That is, today in Greece, how many of our 100 fellow citizens do you think, if we ask them, are interested in the Examination or Preliminary Committee for Tempi?” said the elected Minister Adonis Georgiades yesterday in public on the radio) either as abhorrent passive (intentional or conscious) reaction in the above.
So what; And where does the above happen… so what? Why shouldn’t the other elected ND Minister be right? Makis Voridisas if he said that Greek society has given a “blank cheque” to the ND government and does not attribute responsibility to it even for the crime of Tempi? How many people does this “so?” even if they don’t admit it? 41% of the Greek population? The “Beos again” of the Greek population? 95% of the Greek population? (so much was the percentage of ekaitisists during the junta, that eventually they became Iketists and they still are…)
Moving on with your life is proof of that “so what?”
Of course not. Obviously you will go on with your life – how else will you be able to be there, present, when you are needed to change someone else’s life? The question is who are you continuing it for. Just for you or does any other person, animal, tree, creature come into the equation? Entrees for us and leftovers for others or do we go for solidarity and, I say now, feel what “man” means?
What does “man” really mean to man? Seeing us, the people my grandmother used to say, the man, what the hell are we seeing, I really wonder. Not philosophically, not scientifically, not existentially, not as a question and well-researched journalistic idiot in breakfast rooms, but completely pragmatically: When we look at each other, what the hell do we see?
One question – One show… and a ‘goodbye’ to Robinson
The inclusive theater group ARTimeleia (consisting of disabled and non-actors) has already been presenting the show since 10/19 “Goodbye, Robinson” directed by Annitas Kapousizis in the Fournos Theatre. The work is based on the legend of Robinson Crusoe, together with texts by Tournier, Agaben and Cortázar: A Western man is shipwrecked in a desert that calls him to become part of Nature, part of silence, solitude and meeting with ” other”, the “different”, the “barbarian”. How will Western man exist within this perfectly natural and outrageously unnatural for the same environment? How will he see the “other”, the “different”, the “barbarian”? Who will change who?
In the project, years later, the two, Robinson and Paraskevas, return for the last time as honored guests to their island, which is now a modern technological paradise. After all, the gaze of each other left an imprint on the “island”? On them? Was it just a matter of survival or a deep existential need to co-exist? Does “exist” exist without “co-exist”?
On stage we see two actors: Dark Velenza, fit, strong, tall, handsome, in the role of Robinson. And the Pano Polypatheli, disabled actor, shorter and what they call “different”. But Melachrinos is also “different”. Neither of them is one of the “normal” ones out there.
The choice of the director is not accidental: we also see in person what diversity and “diversity” mean. And likeness and harmony and possibility of body and spirit on stage. Because they both give excellent performances. And no one falls short of the role and the task they have undertaken. But even more widely, neither of them is lacking…
“The theater is inclusive by definition. It does not need the identification”
“The ARTimeleia group started through MDA HELLAS (Association for the care of people with neuromuscular diseases), where I took over their theater workshop” tells us Annita Kapousizis. “There I first came into contact with people with neuromuscular diseases and whose main passion is the search, the exploration of their limits, the expression. The first realization of the infinite possibilities of a seemingly motionless body on stage was the impetus to create an autonomous, independent theater group with the aim of inclusion, coexistence in the theater space of all people who want to express themselves in it.
»The theater is inclusive by definition. It does not need identification. It is a way and place of expression, and as such does not limit the people who choose it. It is the social context that sets the limitations. We, the first thing we wanted to establish as a group, is the coexistence of disabled and non-actors throughout the creative process and not just their presence on stage. That is why from a very early age I felt the need to find common ground in the work of training the actors I work with. The result was the neurological approach to acting, an inclusive method of teaching and training actors, with and without disabilities, based on the common ground we all share: our neurobiology. The method was published this year by ION publications as a manual with the title: “Theatrical educational model through the neurological approach to acting” and is the first recorded inclusive acting method in Greece.
“Most of the stories I remember have to do with all the effort, persistence and humor you have to muster to move the audience from ‘I can’t see them, I feel sorry for them’ to ‘what a fine actor!’ The play “Goodbye, Robinson” came to communicate with the audience exactly this coexistence with the Other, as a natural continuation of our own existence” concludes the director.
“We started from stillness… The body is the words that don’t need to be said”
“It’s an extremely interesting collaboration for me: a mirror. Panos and I are equal on stage and this is evident in Annita’s acting method on which we worked” tells us Dark-skinned Velentzas. “The philosophy is that whether you are disabled or not, the point of birth of things is the same. We start from stillness and I would say from this first almost melancholic image of a person, of a body that just stands. It is an attitude that evokes a nostalgia: our desire to return to a place where we have been before and it was good. From this stillness, we focus on the micro-movements that are born and how one leads to the other.
»I really like physical theater as I believe that the body tells and carries its own story. It has a feature where words are not needed. The body is the words that don’t need to be said. Or which when they arise are the culmination of a physical action. Or they function dialectically in terms of this bodily action.
“Robinson’s role is very demanding both physically and mentally and emotionally. In a way, we made him be. In addition to the very good physical condition required, there is also a demanding route in terms of the mental part, as well the play touches on core issues of human existence such as loneliness, death, our need for the Other. So the challenge is to approach these issues through a body that will be active and present, while having a measure and the right pace in relation to the narrative. The interpretation of the specific role, as well as our entire work, is like a score that brings to the surface the existential need of the actor himself (me and Panos).
»Why are we telling this story? Why so? Because the body itself becomes the integral tool of this story that if it is not active and present, this story is impossible to tell – and perhaps no other story, even if we have “forgotten” this…” concludes Melahrinos.
“I am Panos, I work my body and my mind, I love, I am angry, I am happy, I am sad, I dream, I feel…”
“My name is Pano Polypatheli and i am 23 years old. I come from a large family and I have three older brothers” Panos starts talking to us. “I was born with cerebral palsy, which caused me mobility difficulties. I am now a walker and independent. I finished the Special High School of Ilion. Already from school I participated in school plays.
“However, my engagement with the art of acting actually began when I met Annita Kapousizis and the ARTimeleia team. An independent group since 2017. Since then we have put on three productions, unfortunately the covid period intervened and now “Goodbye, Robinson” is our fourth production. The main characteristic of the group is the co-education of disabled and non-disabled people, based on the neurological approach of actinga methodology developed by the team’s founder, Annita Kapousizis, and is a method exclusively used by the ARTimeleia team.
»Besides acting, I have been involved in dance, sports and chess, as well as artistic actions related to kinesiology. I am excited about my role in the show. Paraskevas, like me, expresses a simplicity and an innocence of the human need for communication and for an active and organic body. That’s what I’m trying too: to explore my body, work on my weaknesses and be alert.
“Both on stage and off stage, my disability does not prevent me from achieving my dreams. I am every time the role I am called to play. Theater is a part of real life, which of course has many difficulties, but that’s life, my life. So I am a part of this society and a member of it. Personally, I never felt like a hero, as I was often told to encourage me. Of course, the world is not made of angels. Various incidents have happened to me. But what can we do, the different has a charm.
“However, the pioneers of the social model, according to Barnes, interpreting diversity through the lens of social constraints, argued that the different does not exist, but that it is a socially constructed concept. Of course, on the other hand, we disabled people also bear our share of responsibility. There are many who, unable to face the looks of pity and sympathy as well as the peculiar attitudes of “normal people”, closed in on themselves, self-punishing him. It is not an easy process. It’s painful and you get hit from everywhere.
“In conclusion, I am Panos, I work my body and my mind, I love, I am angry, I am happy, I am sad, I dream, I feel…”.
Thursday 9/11 and Friday 10/11 at 21.00 and Thursday 16/11 at 21.00, at the Fournos Theater (168 Mavromichali, Athens, tel. 2106460748).
Ticket sales HERE
The performance will be repeated in January 2024 for a few more days.
Cast: Melachrinos Velentzas (Robinson), Panos Polypathelis (Friday).
Voice over: Christos Kapenis.
Avatar: Eva Lampara (Nora)
Goodbye Robinson – teaser
Main photo: George Danopoulos