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Available from 16 April until 13 May 2021
Playwright: David Greig
Music, lyrics: John Browne
The Events, world-class Scottish playwright David Greig’s great work, with music and lyrics by John Browne, comes to GNO TV, the new web TV of the Greek National Opera. The performance is a co-production of the GNO Alternative Stage with nine Municipal and Regional Theatres of Greece and it will be available on nationalopera.gr/GNOTV/en from 16 April to 13 May 2021. The production and GNO TV are made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
The Events is a political work exploring the rise of the extreme right, neo-fascism and xenophobia through an attempt to approach the “beast” itself. The work stars amateur choirs. Inspired by the massacre of 69 people by Anders Breivik in 2011 in Norway, it attempts to grasp the unthinkable and explore the limits of forgiveness in the face of monstrosity. The production is directed by Alexander Raptotasios, who also translated the text, and musical direction, choir coaching and adaptation of music and lyrics is by Konstantinos Thomaidis.
The production was initially scheduled to tour to nine Municipal and Regional Theatres across Greece with the participation of a total of 21 local choirs, but due to the pandemic, the tour was suspended. The production was filmed on the Alternative Stage in December 2020 with the participation of the Piraeus Vocal Ensemble Libro Coro.
The collaboration of a state arts organisation with such a large number of regional theatres, on the basis of a partnership of equals, is a significant initiative, which brings out the potential for synergies between organisations of the centre and the periphery. In the case of The Events, the participation of local choirs reinforces even more the venture’s essence while highlighting its political dimension. In recent years, the GNO Alternative Stage has developed a number of collaborations with regional organisations, in an effort to enhance artistic dialogue.
The Events is presented for a second time in Greece, while its tour across the country with the participation of local choirs is rescheduled for the near future – according to the intention of the writer and the rest of the creators of the first performance.
The work was commissioned by the Actors Touring Company and was first performed at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh (Fringe Festival 2013), directed by Ramin Gray. It received raving reviews and was labeled as an important, groundbreaking work. Its premiere was immediately followed by a two-year tour across Great Britain, and later on it was presented at theatres all over Europe and in New York.
The direction and translation of the work bear the stamp of innovative and restless creator Alexandros Raptotasios. As he himself notes about the show: “A real chorus is on the stage, unsuspecting of the content of the performance that is about to follow. Everyday people, volunteers, citizens, pensioners, a multitude who appears, sings, and remains on the stage, as a witness of the events. Opposite them is the audience, co-responsible, part of the ‘stage negotiation’, almost like a mirror to the chorus. Between them, two actors trying to find out what led a young man murder a whole chorus consisting of “the others”. In front of our eyes they attempt a public anatomy of the rise of the extreme right, following the model of ancient tragedy: two actors and the chorus. Only that here, the chorus is unsuspecting, a part of the local community, and it changes every evening. Local choruses from Athens, Piraeus, Ioannina, Larissa, Corfu, Crete, Serres, Kozani, Kalamata, Chania, Heraklion and Agrinio – cities which have recently received large populations of refugees – create a new chorus every evening.
When I set out on this venture two years ago with Konstantinos Thomaidis, I was convinced that to create something meaningful, we would have to involve regional choruses, organizations and audiences, people who are directly concerned about this issue, in their daily lives, people who may not agree with each other. Just like in my previous projects, I am interested in creating a true encounter during the performance, and that is why I am fascinated by this work which, from the start, makes every performance – every evening- different and unpredictable. I am not interested in making theatre just to express my opinion or just to go out there and simply denounce or praise something. We live in times of extreme polarization, where we refuse to listen to different opinions while we shut ourselves in virtual realities repeating the views we already agree with. Many times, theatre does exactly the same thing. The point, to me, is to recognize the contradictions and the issues we face today as a society, and to develop a public dialogue about all this through theatre.”
The set was designed by Dimos Klimenof in collaboration with the director and in line with the preventive measures against COVID-19, and its goal is to have the local choirs placed on the stage as a reflection of the audience, while the actors are conducting a workshop about events, memories and ideologies, between them. In the same context, Eliza Alexandropoulou designed the lighting, exploring what unites us, what moves us from individuality to togetherness. The costumes are by Marie-Cécile Inglesi.
Claire, a teacher running a local amateur chorus consisting of immigrants and people from socially vulnerable groups in her spare time, believes that there is an explanation about what is going on in the world. One day, an armed young local man barges into her rehearsal room and starts shooting. Claire will be the only survivor and the only thing she wants to do is understand why this happened.
First production by the Actors Touring Company in collaboration with director Ramin Gray
A co-production of the Greek National Opera with the Municipal and Regional Theatres of Corfu, Ioannina, Kozani, Serres, Crete, Komotini, Kalamata, Agrinio, the Theatre of Thessaly and Ferodo Bridges
From 16 April until 13 May 2021 at nationalopera.gr/GNOTV/en
Filmed on the GNO Alternative Stage at the SNFCC on 11 December 2020. With Greek and English subtitles.
Music – Lyrics: John Browne
Greek translation – Director – Set supervision: Alexander Raptotasios
Musical direction – Choir coach – Music and lyrics adaptation: Konstantinos Thomaidis
Costume designer: Marie-Cécile Inglesi
Lighting designer: Eliza Alexandropoulou
Soundscapes: Alexandros Drymonitis
Choirs coordinator: Anna Efthymiou
Choir leader: Anthi Gouroudi
With Maria Kechagioglou and Konstantinos Bibis
Piano: Markos Kotsias
With the participation of the Piraeus Vocal Ensemble Libro Coro
With the 5-euro ticket viewers can:
Founding Donor of the Alternative Stage & Production donor
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org]