An interview with Eugenio Barba

  •  Author: Mountraki Irene
  •  Published on: 25/08/2016


Eugenio Barba is a living myth and needs no introduction. We have the honor to welcome him, here in Greece in a few days. He is going to direct a Masterclass with his collaborator Julia Varley on Saturday, 28 of August at Heraclion, Crete invited by Antonis Diamantis and Studio Omma.


From Festuge to Caravan Project: Do you think it is possible to reactivate citizens of trembling Europe through theatre and art? What is the need that inspired your Caravan Project?

The Festuge is a celebration in our small Danish town Holstebro of its many forms of “subculture”: schools, sport clubs, the military, different churches, ethnical minorities homosexual organisations, etc. Theatre is the art of establishing relationships. Odin Teatret has been using its skill and experience, not only in creating performances, but in creating relationship between the many different milieus in Holstebro in order to make themselves known, collaborate together in spectaculars form and be proud of their diversity. I don’t think that the Festuge - this particular cultural event which has developed in 30 years, will reactivate the hundreds of millions of European citizens in prey of insecurity and material difficulties. The Festuge may be a stimulation, an example that it is possible to do certain things which seem impossible. This initiative is like a small living cell which collaborates with others living cells in the organism of Europe in order to strengthen its cultural and spiritual immunity system.


Odin Teatret is a living myth. Do you “transform” your goals during all these years and adapt your art to the new realities?

The fact of being a living myth does not change the reality of Odin Teatret’s daily life. We are still a theatre group and our results depend on the degree and quality of commitment of each of us. The world is changing fast, and we also do it: we get older and it is harder to do the same amount of efforts and activity. But we are still motivated to face the new circumstances finding a solution, and thus preventing us from losing the personal value we give to our theatrical work.


What are your expectations, your will for the future? You are a citizen of the world, travelling all around for more than half a century. What do you think and how do you feel as a south European who has his base at the north Europe?

I left Italy in 1954; for seven years I was a welder in Norway and then a sailor on Norwegian merchant ships. I have studied theatre in Poland for four years, I ended in a small town in Denmark where I have lived for fifty years. On one side I am totally without roots. On the other, I feel that my roots are in my craft and in that circle of people I share my life with at Odin Teatret and those I meet abroad and establish bonds of collaboration and friendship.


Is theatre a response to what is happening? Do you still have faith in it? Are there any secrets for actors?

Too many difficult questions…


What is your “relation” with Greece?

Since I was twelve years old I have had a close bond to classical Greece. I have studied old Greek in school for five years; translating Sophocles, a poem of Archilochus or reading a dialogue by Platon was a daily task in my life. I feel that my particular cultural identity was shaped thanks this apparently useless knowledge. Greek culture has nourished my imagination and influenced my esthetical references. In contemporary times, I met once Karolos Koun in Germany, he had come to see an Odin performance. It was in 1980. Today I have a close collaboration with Omma Theatre in Heraklion and also a friendly relation with Theodoros Terzopoulos in Delphi.


What do you expect from Greek actors and what they should have in mind following the masterclass?

The motivation of theatre artists who travel from far away to follow Julia Varley’s and my master class is an important factor. Each of them has already a personal baggage of experience, but also a desire to get new stimuli. I hope that they will see and hear something, which can stimulate them and strengthen their professional commitment in following their own path.


Working on theatre and studying theatre anthropology with ISTA are there any “conclusions” (if we can use this term) about human nature?

In theatre, actors must be able to attract and keep the attention of their spectators not only by just saying a text, but also through a behavior where the voice’s intonation and suggestivity is not the same as in private life. Theatre anthropology focuses on certain technical principles, which are found in all form of acting in all cultures. These principles concern the stage presence” and they do not teach how to become a “good” actor. The conclusions are facts: theatre anthropology is today studied and applied in theoretical and practical situations all over the world.


His message for his visit in Greece

To my friends of OMMA STUDIO THEATRE
I have visited Greece and Crete many times, but never as a theatre man. This is the first time that I come to Heraklion invited by Omma Studio Theatre to which I am bound by many years of friendship and collaboration. I will give a master class together with the actress Julia Varley. Although I am sorry not to have the opportunity to present an Odin Teatret performance with all my actors, I am nevertheless glad to share with my Greek colleagues and interested spectators my half century of theatrical practice.
During their visits to Odin Teatret in Denmark, Irini Koustaki and Antonis Diamantis have often described the committed milieu in which they develop their work with their Omma StudioTheatre. I look forward to meeting their collaborators and interested spectators, witnessing their reactions and listening to their comments.
Finally, I am profoundly grateful to you for inviting me in these difficult times when such generosity costs a “herculean” effort.
In friendship
Eugenio Barba
Holstebro, 5.3.2016



Date: Saturday, 28 August 2016

Venue: Experimental Stage Cultural Center of Heraclion Municipality

Time: 09.30 – 20.30