Efthimis Filippou / Angeliki Papoulia / Christos Passalis / Ictus
The Events, world-class Scottish playwright David Greig’s great play 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 until 13 May 2021.
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 features 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 stage directed by Alexander Raptotasios, who also translated the play into Greek; the musical direction, choir coaching and adaptation of music and lyrics is by Konstantinos Thomaidis.
The production was initially scheduled to tour 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 are presented for a second time in Greece, while the show’s tour across the country with the participation of local choirs has been 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 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 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 designed by Marie-Cécile Inglesi.
Filmed on the GNO Alternative Stage at the SNFCC on 11 December 2020. With Greek and English subtitles.
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.
Claire, a teacher running a local amateur choir 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.
Playwright David Greig
Music, lyrics John Browne
Greek translation, director, set supervision Alexander Raptotasios
Musical direction, choir coach, music & lyrics adaptation Konstantinos Thomaidis
Costume designer Marie-Cécile Inglesi
Lighting designer Eliza Alexandropoulou
Soundscapes Alexandros Drymonitis
Choirs coordinator Anna Efthymiou
Set design consultant Dimos Klimenof
Production manager Lefteris Kotsis
Claire Maria Kechagioglou
The Boy Konstantinos Bibis
Markos Kotsias (piano)
With the participation of the Piraeus Vocal Ensemble Libro Coro
Choir leader Anthi Gouroudi
Video recording, TV director, editing Xenofon Vardaros
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
First production by the Actors Touring Company in collaboration with director Ramin Gray
A real choir 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 choir. Between them, two actors trying to find out what led a young man murder a whole choir 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 choir. Only that here, the choirs is unsuspecting, a part of the local community, and it changes every evening. Local choirs 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 choirs 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 choirs, organisations 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 polarisation, 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 recognise the contradictions and the issues we face today as a society, and to develop a public dialogue about all this through theatre.
— Alexander Raptotasios
David Greig Playwright
He is a multi-award-winning playwright who became the Artistic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh in 2015. His most notable plays include The Events, The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, Midsummer, Dunsinane and Europe. More recently, his new stage adaptation of Solaris, based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 Polish science fiction novel, was co-produced by the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne and the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. In 2019, he teamed up with original creators Bill Forsyth and Mark Knopfler to adapt the international hit film Local Hero for the stage – which premiered in Edinburgh in March 2019. The new stage adaptation of Joe Simpson’s best-selling 1988 memoir Touching the Void, which was co-produced by the Royal Lyceum Theatre and Bristol Old Vic Theatre, enjoyed a run at the Duke of York Theatre in London’s West End Theatre in 2019/20. His other adaptations include Strindberg’s Creditors (2018), Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women (2016) and The Lorax (2015). He wrote the book for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which opened in the West End Theatre in 2013 and then transferred to Broadway in 2017.
John Browne Music, lyrics
He is an Irish composer living in London composing for theatre, opera, and choir. Operas include Babette’s Feast and Demon Juice for the Royal Opera House in London and The Early Earth Operas for the English National Opera. Recent choral work includes music for Westminster Abbey, Choir of King’s College London, Southbank Centre and the band Elbow. Theatre work includes creating The Mother’s Ring, a music theatre piece with survivors of the genocide in Rwanda, and The Suppliant Women at the Young Vic Theatre in London and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. He trained at University College Cork with Gerald Barry and at Manhattan School of Music in New York (Fulbright Award). He has been composer-in-residence at King’s College London and is a Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Alexander Raptotasios Director, translator, set supervision
He grew up in Athens and studied performance and theatre at the Brighton University. He continued with postgraduate studies in physical theatre at St Mary’s University and directing at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA) as a scholar of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The production Across the Border has been presented in England and South Korea, where it won the Best New Director and Best New Play awards at the Miryang Performing Arts Festival. In London he founded Ferodo Bridges, an international theatre company with people from theatre, performance and the visual arts, performing in unorthodox venues and searching for a new way to communicate with spectators through experiential and interactive forms. He has directed works such as Across the Border (Battersea Arts Centre, UK – South Korea Tour, 2012), PRIMARK on Acid (3Space, Oxford Street, 2014), Macbeth (The Pleasance Theatre, London, 2016), Blindness (BIOS, Athens, 2017), Hotel Apocalypse (Bageion, Athens, 2018), The White Plague (The English Theatre, Berlin, Copenhagen Festival, Greenwich Theatre, UK Tour, 2020).
Konstantinos Thomaidis Musical director, choir coaching, music and lyrics adaptation
He is an actor, musician and researcher. He played Hamlet (Grotowski Institute, Poland, The Space, The Albert, Ovalhouse and The Studio, London), Perlimplín (Ora Theatre, Thessaloniki), Raskolnikov (Camden People’s Theatre, London). With Opera in Space (London) he directed or choreographed Semele (Handel), Dido and Aeneas (Purcell), Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Stabat Mater (Pergolesi) and Liederkreis (Schumann). He is the Artistic Director of Adrift Performance Makers and a Senior Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Exeter. He founded the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies and the Routledge Voice Studies book series. He taught voice at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, at the GEOKS (Indonesia), at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre in Tallin, at the Norwegian Theater Academy, at the Summer Oracle (Dodoni) and at the Drama School of the Greek National Theatre. In 2020 he was awarded the Honourable Mention for Excellence in Editing at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education awards.
Eliza Alexandropoulou Lighting designer
She graduated from the School of Drama of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She was awarded the first Unesco Prize for the Promotion of the Arts, for her stage design work on the subject titled “Babel” at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in 2007, and a prize for innovative lighting design for Euripides Laskaridis’ Relic performance at the 2017 Theatre and Technology Awards organised by Theatre Full Stop in London. She lives and works in Athens as a lighting designer in theatre and dance productions. She has collaborated with Thomas Moschopoulos, Xenia Kalogeropoulou, George Kimoulis, Thodoris Gonis, Euripides Laskaridis, Argyro Chioti, Maria Panourgia, Anestis Azas, Prodromos Tsinikoris, Group Plefsis, Zoe Chatziantoniou, Haris Fragoulis, Christos Passalis, etc. She is a member of the creative lighting group Beforelight. Since 2007, she has been involved in lighting design installations and urban events in Greece and abroad.
Marie-Cécile Inglesi Costume designer
Born in Athens, she studied fashion design, styling and textiles at the Fashion Workshop – Mod’Art International. She started her professional career as a fashion designer and costume designer for contemporary dance performances. As a costume designer she has worked with the Onassis Stegi (The Art of War), BIOS Theatre (Blindness), the Red Jasper Cabaret Theatre (TANZ), with the international theatre company Ferodo Bridges (The Events, The White Plague: Online Binaural Experience, Hotel Apocalypse) as well as for the Eurovision Song Contest (“Better Love”, Greek submission, 2019). She continues being creative at the fashion field, as she collaborates with the Greek magazines Beauté, Vogue Greece and with fashion houses such as Mary Katrantzou and Jean Paul Gaultier.
Alexandros Drymonitis Soundscapes
He is a sound and new media artist. He is a graduate (Master of Music) of the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where he studied guitar and composition. His artistic practice focuses on new techniques utilising new media such as computer programming, artificial intelligence, or even older practices, like modular synthesizers. He has collaborated with artists from different art disciplines as well as with various ensembles, both interdisciplinary and musical. He has taught guitar at the Music School of Amsterdam and the Philippos Nakas Conservatory in Athens and electronic music programming at the Musical Praxis Conservatory in Athens. He is a freelancer in the field of electronic music and multimedia programming, teaches in workshops in various venues and undertakes multimedia programming for various projects. He is the author of Digital Electronics for Musicians, published by Apress.
Maria Kechagioglou Claire
She was born in Didymoteicho, Greece. She studied at the Department of Philology of the School of Philosophy at the University of Ioannina and at the Drama School of the National Theatre of Greece. She has collaborated with the National Theatre of Greece, Athens and Epidaurus Festival, Festival d’Avignon, Onassis Stegi, National Theatre of Northern Greece, New Stage – Lefteris Vogiatzis, Notos Theatre, Embros Theatre, Neos Kosmos Theatre, Porta Theatre, Kefallinias Theatre, Greek Art Theatre Karolos Koun in classical and contemporary repertoire. She is a founding member of kanigunda theatre company. In 2008, she was the recipient of the “Marika Kotopouli” award. She taught acting at the National Theatre of Greece and in other private drama schools. In the cinema, she has appeared in films such as Ephemeral Town, The Man in Grey, Brazilero, Soul Kicking, Coming as a Friend, Starry Dome, Before the Night as well as in many short films.
Konstantinos Bibis The Boy
He studied at the Greek Art Theatre Karolos Koun Drama School. He was trained in the Stanislavski system and Actors Studio Method Acting by Andreas Manolikakis, having taken courses in his theatre masterclasses for six years. With the IDEA Theatre Company, he created the performance Romeo and Juliet for 2 and gave performances in Greece and abroad. In 2014, with the same company, he was nominated for the “Dimitris Horn” award. In 2017, he was honoured with the “Dimitris Horn” award for his performance in the play Oedipus’ Tree. As a member of the IDEA Theatre Company, he directed plays such as The Last Black Cat, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Aristophaniade. He adapted and directed Menelaos Lountemis’ novel The Clock of the World Strikes Midnight and Dimitris Zougou’s Small Europe. As an actor, he participated in productions such as Hippolytus, Oedipus’ Tree, The Birds, Ion, Under the Stars, The Inspector, War and Peace etc. He was the artistic director of the Alfa Theatre, Athens, and at the same time he taught (2016-2020).
Markos Kotsias Piano
He studied at the Philippos Nakas Conservatory (class of Alexandra Papastefanou, diploma with honours and first prize in 2008). In the same year, he won the First Prize of Yamaha’s YMFE competition. He is a graduate of the Musik Hochschule Stuttgart (K.A. Klavier, class of André Marchand). He participated in piano masterclasses by internationally renowned contemporary pianists. He performed as a soloist and as an ensemble member in chamber music concerts alongside acclaimed artists of his generation in Greece and Germany. He is a distinguished accompanist of both classical and modern Greek repertoire, having played alongside numerous acclaimed artists. From 2015 and for two years he worked as a full-time pianist of the Greek National Opera, where he participated in productions as a ballet and opera accompanist and an orchestral keyboardist. He participated in the production Vembo-Callas: an imaginary encounter with singers Argyro Kaparou and Irini Karaianni. He teaches piano at the Amadeus Conservatory, Athens.