Pon­der­ing pro­found con­cepts through the sim­plest means

Blitz’s ‘Galaxy’ re­turns to the the­ater group’s re­cur­ring mo­tif of death

Kathimerini English - - Life - BY CHRISTINA SANOUDOU

Blitz’s lat­est per­for­mance starts with noth­ing more than an ac­tor hold­ing a piece of pa­per with a name writ­ten on it, at a makeshift the­ater in an un­der­ground car park. “My name is Ma­hatma Gandhi. I died in 1948. I miss...” the ac­tor be­gins. Grad­u­ally, the rest of the cast ap­pears on the stage, each hold­ing up the name of a per­son or some­thing else that has gone for­ever.

Ti­tled “Galaxy,” the show ad­dresses mon­u­men­tal con­cepts such as life, death, joy and loss in the sim­plest way, and en­com­passes the milestones of world his­tory in a four-hour per­for­mance, which is cur­rently on stage at the Michael Ca­coy­an­nis Foun­da­tion.

The the­ater group, which was founded seven years ago by Gior­gos Valais, An­ge­liki Papou­lia and Chris­tos Pas­salis, boasts a num­ber of suc­cess­ful and in­no­va­tive pro­duc­tions and earned a nom­i­na­tion this year in the New The­atri­cal Re­al­i­ties cat­e­gory of the Euro­pean The­ater Prize.

Though “Galaxy” ad­dresses pro­found ques­tions, the con­cept is ex­tremely sim­ple: Eight ac­tors em­body peo­ple who have died, ob­jects that have been lost, ide­olo­gies that have fiz­zled out or phrases that have faded from the lex­i­con.

There is no par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to cos­tumes or the other kinds of de­tails that can send pro­duc­tion costs rock­et­ing, and this was the ob­jec­tive to be­gin with as “Galaxy” was cre­ated for the Low Bud­get Fes­ti­val last De­cem­ber, also held at the MCF Cul­tural Cen­ter. The per­for­mance, how­ever, is never the same as new faces are in­tro­duced each time.

Death is a re­cur­ring theme in Blitz’s works, as seen in pro­duc­tions rang­ing from “Faust” to “Cin­e­mas­cope,” which is set in the last nine days be­fore the end of the world.

“Death has been com­pletely ex­iled from the mod­ern way of life,” Valais told Kathimerini. “Even reg­u­la­tions in apart­ment build­ings for­bid you from keep­ing the body of a dead per­son in your house for the tra­di­tional pe­riod of mourn­ing.” Yet, the group ar­gues, be­ing aware of our mor­tal­ity is what gives life mean­ing, just as the ephemeral na­ture of ob­jects makes us ap­pre­ci­ate them more. In “Galaxy,” Valais elab­o­rated, death is not pre­sented as macabre but as joy­ful, and the per­for­mance uses joy and hu­mor to punc­tu­ate this mes­sage. The ac­tors oc­ca­sion­ally go too far when it comes to shield­ing the au­di­ence from the cen­tral theme.

“I think that there are mo­ments that could have been a bit heav­ier,” ad­mit­ted Papou­lia. “Some­times you need to make some­thing ap­pear more tragic so that it be­comes fun­nier.” Hu­mor, how­ever, is not the only way death is dealt with in “Galaxy,” which fea­tures si­lence in equal mea­sure.

The over­rid­ing sen­ti­ment that emerges from the pro­duc­tion is that the dead have left be­hind their ha­tred and pas­sion, that they are rec­on­ciled to their com­mon fate. The char­ac­ters rep­re­sented come from across the board: an­ar­chists and fas­cists, saints and sin­ners, phi­lan­thropists and ter­ror­ists.

The dead in “Galaxy” are also ob­jects and ideas that may strike a chord with mem­bers of the au­di­ence and rep­re­sent the sense of loss that comes with the “death” of a beloved ob­ject, a fa­vorite phrase or an im­por­tant ide­ol­ogy. “It is as though all these peo­ple who came be­fore us, all these things that were said, have re­sulted in what we know as re­al­ity to­day,” said Pas­salis.

The four-hour du­ra­tion of the per­for­mance should not put any­one off, be­cause mem­bers of the au­di­ence are free to come and go as they please.

“Galaxy” also fea­tures ac­tors Aris Ar­ma­gani­dis, Thaleia Ioan­nidou, Eleni Kara­giorgi, Elina Loukou, Michalis Mathioudakis and Nikos Flessas.

It is on stage Fri­day through Sun­day at 8.30 p.m. un­til May 29, and tick­ets cost 15 eu­ros.

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