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  • This production brings two moon-lit nights to the stage. The nocturnal vigils of two women in a pair of stories that seem to be two sides of the same coin - one the light to the other's dark.
    The pure and minimal approach of previous performances is now revised. Optical tricks, pantomime, puppet theatre, and playful illusions characterise the style of this next step taken by EDAFOS. The comic book artist within me became more dominant at this time. I personally designed the sets, costumes and make-up of this work. Optical sleights of hand are performed in slow motion, and the pieces revel in the joy of theatre, with extreme stylisation and the use of melodramatic techniques. A sense of humour enters the proceedings, jarringly enclosed within a weird silent film - comic book atmosphere. The first piece is mysterious in a difficult way, while the second is emotionally more generous. This was my first collaboration with the composer of genius, Yorgos Koumendakis.


    This play in five acts was created for Eros Daemon, a composition by Yorgos Koumendakis (for two pianos and countertenor - Aris Christofellis - based on extracts from the poetry of Sappho). The stage work was inspired by and rehearsed with Angela Brouskou, but this collaboration came to an end before the première, and Sappho opened with Gitsa Karella in the lead role. After a month of performances, the run was extended and I myself played Sappho - my first appearance in a female role. Great fun. This complex interplay of genders - a man plays a lesbian poet in love with a woman, while the poet's male servant wants to be a woman like his mistress, a lesbian poet played by a man - drew large audiences. Also great fun. The show was seen by Manos Hadjidakis, Michael Cacoyannis, Dimitra Galani, and Christos Lambrakis.
    It was during our collaboration on this work that Yorgos Koumendakis had the brilliant idea of animating the gestures and movements of the performers with sounds; an on-stage character used various instruments to perform these sound effects live whenever the action was without musical accompaniment. Used for the first time here, this idea was further elaborated in DRACULA (1997), where microphones and distortions were used to amplify and transform the human voice; this technique was later used extensively in 2 (2006).
    Sappho is portrayed here as a grande dame bitch set within a luxurious, art deco-inspired room that has a large window placed up stage centre. She is struggling to compose a poem, repeatedly failing to complete it. She constantly humiliates her servant, despite clearly being dependent upon him. This is a black-and-white piece (with some touches of dark green) that makes extensive use of an expressionist vocabulary of movements and gestures, and features a ever-changing, moon-lit landscape beyond the window whose imagery is directly rooted in my comic book art. Within these various landscapes appears a female vision: Sappho's love and muse in various guises. She toys with the poet, mocks her, teasingly withholding the inspiration required for the completion of the poem, until she eventually presents Sappho with the words she needs to bring the tortuous process of creation to a close. The piece concludes with Sappho ascending into the night sky to unite with the moon; meanwhile her servant, after suffering a panic attack, puts on her high-heeled shoes in a final scene of transvestism.

    Sappho sprang from a curious mix of influences. There is ridiculousness and campiness in abundance (the performer producing the sound effects - Tina Papanikolaou - was made-up like a Marlene Dietrich clone), drag show elements feature heavily, extreme slow motion is used, and the avante-garde music is "difficult." This was Arte Povera mimicking grand spectacle. I consider this strange hybrid to be the source of all my works that followed. Looking back on Sappho now, it still pleases and entertains me. No second thoughts - these were times when whatever sprang from my imagination was produced on stage, with no consideration of what would happen when the product met the public. It is still a puzzle why so many people were interested in seeing it.


    A poem by Théophile Gautier inspired a ballet, Le Spectre de la Rose, which was first performed with Nijinsky. In it, a young girl, a débutante, falls asleep after her first ball still holding the rose presented to her by an admirer. In sleep, she dreams that the spirit of the rose presents himself and asks her for a dance.
    In my melodramatic version, the tale shifts to become vigil of a girl, lit by a full moon, waking from a dream and drawing a red rose - the blood of her first period - from between her legs. She then fashions her own rose by opening thirty drawers set into the walls of her room, collecting a petal from each. This is one of my favourite surrealist images: a girl climbing, clambering between and hanging off drawers. As she collects the petals, Magritte-like black clouds begin to darken the sky beyond the window. She falls asleep with her rose in hand, and it is then that the black sky splits open and the spirit of the rose comes in and seduces her. She wakes up alone and, as if years have passed since her first experience of true love, she puts together a puppet of a man by collecting body parts from various drawers, and dances with it to relive the dream. The puppet comes to life and seven men, clones of the puppet, climb in through the window, each holding a bouquet of roses. She wakes up alone once more and plucks the petals of a rose as part of a mad scene, in a clear reference to the last scene of the ballet Giselle. Finally, outside the window, the full moon, two clouds and a male figure form the image of an Annunciation angel holding a rose instead of a lily, while the girl is shown in her starting position, as if the piece has come full circle. This concluding image, composed of elements drawn from the entire piece, bears a strong conceptual resemblance to the image of a female figure imprisoned in a camp-bed frame that brings ROOM II (1988) to a close.
    The liberties I took in heightening the melodramatic aspects of this story unleashed the energy that was used to construct the emotional layer of MEDEA (1993). I was introduced to Bel canto music and Bellini at this time. My next step, taken the following year, was MEDEA, where I used a collage of music excerpts taken from seven operas by Bellini as a soundtrack. I later had the good fortune to direct LA SONNAMBULA (2000). It is fair to say that LE SPECTRE DE LA ROSE was the first time Angeliki Stellatou had been given the opportunity to reveal her immense talent as a leading lady, something she was to conclusively confirm with her performance as Medea.
Quintet in four acts (70 minutes)
In collaboration with Yorgos Koumendakis

A piece for a woman and eight men (60 minutes)

130 minutes
Première: 30 October 1992, at the Artists' Building (Athens-Greece)
Main Sponsor: INTRAKOM
Sponsored by J.F. Kostopoulos Foundation, Artisti Italiani, ISTOS, Music and Musicians, Greek Ministry of Culture

Concept - Direction - Choreography - Set & Costume Design: Dimitris Papaioannou
Music: Yorgos Koumendakis, Hector Berlioz, Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi
Lighting Design: Yioula Kranioti
Performers: Tassos Alexiadies, Nikos Dragonas, Grigoris Lagos, Yitsa Karella, Michalis Lagouvardos, Michalis Nalbandis, Dimitris Papaioannou, Tina Papanikolaou, Takis Poulopoulos, Stavroula Siamou, Angeliki Stellatou, Yiannis Yiaples, Stavros Zalmas