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I would like someone to write a play entitled "The Greek mess"

12 April 2012 / 18:04:00  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

We wanted to talk with theatre actor and director Grigoris Valtinos about the theatre and crisis. The interview, however, took on a bright political tinge, but did not stray away from theatrical themes. Moreover, as our interlocutor said, theatrical works are political. At the same time, they are directed at people’s mentality.

Mr. Valtinos, how much has the crisis affected the Greek theatre? Why is modern Greek theatre not able to get even close to the achievements of ancient theatre?

First, I would like to say that there are no major theatrical productions internationally. I mean there is an international crisis of repertoire. This is what we see, as we are concerned every year about what productions we will present to the public and read all the works offered by at least 3-4 major countries and languages - English, American, French, Italian and even Spanish. That is why I am saying it is more a crisis of dramaturgy.

I think it is due to playwrights’ confusion from this hurricane, which is destroying the people and the planet. If we look at things historically, we will see that most of the artists were more progressive. They were on the side of progress; in most cases, they belonged to the intelligentsia of the Left and were on the side of the weaker people in society. I.e. they were all that is meant by the word progressive.

I would say that conservative playwrights and those who wrote about the bourgeoisie without paying attention to the problems of the lower classes were few and far between. This, of course, does not mean that they were less talented than others were.

So, today's advanced playwrights are confused. Following the collapse of the existing socialism, as in the Soviet Union and Berlin, and the changes in China, all countries are now using the capitalist model of governance. Artists’ confusion is associated with the course of things. Theatrical works are political. Even apolitical theatre is political, since it does not take a position on any issue. Therefore, it is only logical that the inspiration and impulse to a better or different world have dried up somewhat. Because this is the work of artists: to create works against evil. Now, we see it dominating more than ever, at all levels and in all forms. This is why artists are feeling hurt and somehow frustrated because centuries of drama, poetry, literature have brought the world to this state of things. Today, there is bitterness, a depression in dramaturgy.

On the other hand, we would say that most things have already been said. This is why we constantly come back to classical works. They contain stereotypes about man, his soul, the eternal questions, problems that remain unanswered, etc.

But theatre is the product of its time. Each epoch has its own theatre. The fact that all issues have already been covered does not mean that new forms cannot be found to present them in a manner appropriate for their epoch. This is what some of the artists are trying to do. So, often you can see new colours emerging against the background of poverty, scarcity and drought.

Could the economic crisis be an opportunity for artists to return to the true values ​​of people?

The economic crisis is a major global meltdown, which I think will excite the feelings of artists. Because they see that what they have proclaimed so far, i.e. a better world with man at its centre, a just society that respects the laws and is on the side of weaker people, has now been destroyed. This vision, if you wish, has already collapsed in the worst way, taking man decades back. The rights man has gained have been seized and now, man has been brought back to the beginning, to the position of a proletarian, of a man who has no chance in life. This is the result of the capitalist system, which according to Marx had within itself the seeds of its destruction already at the time of its birth. Flour was swelling until it burst. We found that there was no dough inside but air. I am not an economist, but what I see as an ordinary citizen and as a man with more sensitivity, as an artist, is that we all are trying now to save capitalism. Because we have chosen it and we have to justify our choice. I do not know whether we will succeed.

How do you think Greece will manage to cope with the social crisis?

Greece has never managed to resolve the social crisis because it did not take care of its children. When I say Greece, I mean the people governing it. Those, who have ruled us so far, with few exceptions, did not take care of their country at all. They seized power to steal, to secure their election the next term, to appoint their friends, to increase the members of their "families" and therefore, their power. All of them tried to cut off a piece of flesh from their homeland, and as a result, it has become unprotected. We saw Greece collapsing not because of the first crisis, but because of the first "cold". Why is that? It is because there was no infrastructure. Citizens are also guilty, to a lesser degree, of course. For all tend towards easy, cheap, casual, funny things. To manoeuvres.
 
What do we do about it? Some turn to religion to create a social "contract" and to live together in peace. Others turn to politics. They vote for politicians to be able to apply the laws, to punish injustice and implement a programme in favour of the country and its citizens.

Tags: TheatreGrigoris ValtinosPlaysCrisisDramaturgyPolitics
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