60 European citizens committed to creating theatre that proposes new storytelling experiences about the recent financial crisis.
The German performance was a bold and zany interpretation of Aeschylus The Eumenides – the third in the trilogy of Greek tragedies The Orestia – situated outside the theatre of the Cultural Centre on the raised platform of the patio. The work focused on the ending segment of the play where Orestes is on trail for the murder of his mother Clytemnestra: an act he committed to avenge Clytemnestra for killing his father Agamemnon. The piece used the ending segment of the play as a springboard, leaping 2500 years after the trail to today’s time, adopting an integrated approach which played with the relationship between actors and audience in a variety of inventive ways. The work was performed in English and German, with key points highlighted in English.
The performance responded to a broader definition of the EU crisis, in particular the crisis as a crisis of ideology (capitalism) and leadership, rather than purely economic. Specific moments within the play spoke powerfully and directly about these issues. In particular, the section where Pallas Athena forms a jury for the trail of Orestes powerfully responds to the current uncertain fate of Greece in the hands of the rest of Europe: will we condemn, reject and cut the ropes loose, or stand together in solidarity? Adding another poignant layer of meaning with regards to the cultural roots of the tragedy: Ancient Greece. This moment represents a shift from the tribal-minded blood laws, towards a broader understanding of humanity resting on more noble values of civic responsibility and democracy, the shift which marks the birth of civilisation.
The show boasted strong performers, Fabian Prokein, made a convincing and noble Apollo; Linos Siegfried was a captivating Orestes and Pia Seifreth was a calm poised, Athena. Andreas Wrosch (co-director with Katerina Kokkinos-Kennedy), interjected the performance with many a witty aside, and The Furies (Katerina Nesterowa, Eva Schröer and Jan Arne Looss) were exceptionally tight as a unit, utilizing the approach to developed in workshops during the run up to the performance they crawled and prowled the stage together, limbs overlapping; movements slow and but sharply defined.
The audience’s role was expanded within the production making a playful and interactive performance space, taking a variety of different forms. Towards the start of the performance, selected audience members were given a stone. These members were later called forward onto the stage later to judge the fate of Orestes, making a line on each side of the stage. Later in the play, celebrating Orestes freedom, the audience were invited onto the stage for a party with wine and music. Characters ran round the stage in-between audience members, interacting with them to build energy; becoming rowdy to the point where wine was thrown everywhere, and the Furies are left in the centre of the stage, in an orgiastic explosion of hedonistic desire.
The piece ends by directly engaging with the issue of scapegoatism and blame vs. solidarity within Europe by asking the audience to offer an innocent member amongst them, to be slaughtered. Resting the final cadence of the [oece in the audience’s lap, this left them to make a decision to stay silent in solidarity or turn on one another. Although there was a degree of uncertainty over volunteering suggestions, the indecision only served to re-emphasise the difficulty of the situation, especially when one audience member put forth the suggestion that ‘we are all innocent, because we are all Greeks’. Inevitably, the suggestions turned to the only member of the performance unable to defend herself: Bertha, the chicken.
Eventually it was decided that nobody wanted to kill the chicken.