WE: the Dramaturgy of the Crisis

Greece. In 2015 Charis Pechlivanidis and Korina Vasileiadou received an Ibsen Scholarship for the project WE: the Dramaturgy of the Crisis.

WE: the Dramaturgy of the Crisis

The jury’s conclusions
The project is a very ambitious attempt to use elements from several Ibsen plays as a dramatic background to an interpretation of the contemporary Greek crisis. This crisis is being explained as being much more than of an economic nature. It involves social psychological and political dimensions, and more than anything it is linked to an understanding of Greek history since the early 1980s seen as a set of themes also found in some of Ibsen’s plays. 

The project involves two phases. The first consists of case studies based on selected Ibsen drama. The second phase involves a performance, called WE based on The Wild Duck where the results from the case studies are being incorporated.

The plays chosen for the first of the case studies are Ghosts and Little Eyolf. The title of this is “The Sins of the Father”. The relationship to contemporary Greece is found in how Greek politics have been dominated by dynasties that have passed on inherited political sins from one generation to another. Thus the theme of the sins of the fathers casts a critical glance at who is responsible for the society that coming generations will inherit: how are lies and subterfuge being used to mislead, which secret agendas exist under the surface.  

For the second case study called “Our castle in the air” the plays used as a springboard for reflections are The Master Builder and John Gabriel Borkman. In both plays the thematics of clinging to power, refusing to accept responsibility, dreaming of creating something new based on illusions are prominent. As the applicants write: “Since 1981, people in high offices as well as simple voters have cared more about their personal profit rather than the well being of society as a whole.  Politicians have never publicly admitted that personal drives and interests were behind their actions. To confess and accept responsibility might be the first step for a real dialogue in Greek society.”

The case studies illustrate how it is possible to use the thematics of Ibsen’s plays to investigate contemporary issues through experiments with dramaturgy, discussions of themes and motives that involve the stage and the audience leading up to issues that will be drawn into a full performance. The Wild Duck serves as a stepping-stone for this. In this play the theme of illusions and realities is central, as well as the refusal to accept responsibility for past transgressions. What is true? In the planned performance the thematics of the workshops will be merged through focusing on the destiny of Hedvig in The Wild Duck, but also by bringing Borkman’s son Erhart from John Gabriel Borkman into the prouction. Thus two children are seen as victims of the machinations of the older generation.

The techniques and working procedures in the project are partly based on the experiences the applicants had with the performance Min(d)ing Ibsen, which also received an Ibsen Scholarship in 2013.

The National Theatre of Greece will act as a co-producer for the project, and it will be performed in Thessaloniki, Athens and also taken on a tour of Greece.

Korina Vasileiadou (Director, Dramaturg) and Charis Pechlivanidis (Actor, Dancer).

Korina Vasileiadou is a theatre maker, her main domains being directing and dramaturgy. She has launched numerous theatre productions in Thessaloniki and Athens, working among others with the National Theatre of Greece, Peiramatiki Skini tis Technis, KANIGUNDA theatre group. She has been granted with IKY’s academic scholarship and a Fellowship of Performance of Harvard University. At the moment she holds great interest for Community and Documentary theatre, as means of intertwining art with social matters.

Charis Pechlivanidis is a performer, an actor and a dancer. He graduated from the Department of Theatre of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and also holds a Master of Arts Degree in Devised Theatre from the Dartington College of Arts, Falmouth University. He has been awarded with the Stare Scholarship of Greece for Master studies abroad. He is collaborating as an actor and a dancer with the National Theatre of Northern Greece since 2007. Apart from creating his own dance theatre performances, he also works as a freelance choreographer and leads workshops for actors and dancers.