Last weekend, I went to see my first play in Greek! This is something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I first arrived here. Seeing a play in a foreign language is a fascinating exercise for the senses: when you can’t understand the meaning of the words, you pay so much more attention to the actors’ vocal and physical expression, the lighting, the set, and the costumes.
…Or lack thereof.
…WHEN THE MALE ACTOR IS COMPLETELY NUDE FOR THE ENTIRE PLAY.
Oh yes. Nude as in totally naked. Completely, 100% naked. Nuddy, starkers, au natur-ALL and wholly naked.
The play was a representation of the story of Judith. It took place at the Contemporary Art Museum here in Thessaloniki. I was told beforehand by my friend Tatiani, with whom I went on this unexpected adventure, that the play would be “experimental.”
Indeed. The male actor came out onstage in a white, hooded robe, and delivered the first 1-2 minutes of his opening monologue right in front of the audience with the hood up and the cloak closed. And then his voice began to raise (though I, of course, had no idea what he was talking about), and whoosh! Back went the cloak, and out came the jubilees.
Aaaaaand I was in the front row, seated on a cushion on the floor, in a very small venue.
I’m not someone bothered by this sort of thing (after playing Janet in “Rocky Horror” this year, I’ve pretty much seen it all!), but as it was unexpected, it came as quite the shock! The two female actresses were nude as well, but were wearing a sort of sheer bag under their cloaks.
Once I got over the shock, however, I really enjoyed myself! The play was incredibly well-acted, and the direction had clearly been excellent. In particular, the blocking (or choreographed movement onstage) was expertly designed and executed; it was such that, combined with the dynamic acting, I was aware of the power plays at hand throughout the entire play. The status changes were clear even though I couldn’t understand what was being said.
In addition, the production used projections in a really interesting way. A few times throughout the play, images were projected on the wall; some abstract, some natural, some simply solid colors. They really enhanced my experience as a non-Greek speaker, as it helped me get the feel of the current passage of dialogue. There was one that really stuck with me: after Judith has beheaded the General, she goes through quite the period of utter bewilderment and shock at what she has done, and this was accompanied by an almost blinding solid white projection directly on Judith’s face and body while she stood paralyzed against the back wall. It was really powerful even without an understanding of the dialogue.
All in all, it was such an enjoyable experience, and a truly fascinating study in communication and expression. Even with the initial shock, I’m so glad I went to see this play, and am looking forward to my next adventure in Greek theatre!
Speaking of which, I found out some very exciting news this week. It seems I will be doing some voice acting for cartoon versions of the comedies of Aristophanes! A teacher at the Farm School does the cartoons in book form, and was looking for native speakers to do the voice work for the new animated versions. We’ll be doing Lysistrata, The Birds, and… Women in Congress! This is very exciting because, as old friends will remember, I actually played the lead in Women in Congress while at Linfield College.
That’s all for now! I’m embarking on yet another four-day weekend… I know, I know. We had ten days off, then a four-day weekend for the elections, and now another four-day weekend for the second round of elections. Go ahead, hate me just a little bit. Honestly, I’ve decided America could use some lessons from the Greeks in vacation time and cheese, among other things.