DIMITRIS FINITSIS' THEATRE,
- Zorzina Tzoumaka, Dramaturg – Director
[Translation: Elina Palaska]
Dimitris Finitsis wrote his first plays using pseudonyms, and to be more exact using his great grandmothers' last names. The fallacy of fatherhood was dissolved in 2010, when his plays were published by Egokeros publishing, under the general title Dominatrix. In 2005, under the pseudonym F.L. Podara he wrote the one act Reduced Reflexes. The on stage directions define a rather interesting, provocative and contradictory premise : "A and B. Two sexless characters. Two human beings among us (...) seemingly presenting the image of an absolutely united and in love couple, despite what they say to one another. There is a discrepancy of words and actions. They wear no clothes. The stage is a huge bed. The audience is all around them, on the edges of the bed. The characters are looking at each other's eyes at all times, smiling constantly. They touch each other, as if it was the first time. The first night of a random acquaintance. (...) The performance can take place in three different beds, presenting three different couples : man - woman, man - man, woman - woman. The spectator reserves the right to choose his seat."
If the image refers to the beginnings of love, the characters' actions undermine it in every possible way, foreshadowing its end : everyday fights, poetry and vulgarity, sexual insinuations, little twists of silence and laughter, and something unutterable floating: B gave A a terminal disease, literal (AIDS) or figurative (is love a disease?) The characters are vague, they do not form personalities and identities, and in fact, in the case of the heterosexual couple, it is not possible to make out who is the male and who is the female. Random pieces of information form a social background, rather familiar but indefinable, while the way the dialogue is formed and communication is ventured uses characteristics of the theatre of the absurd. Becket type twins and a voyeuristic circumstance. A clownerie based on two legends: the sexless, almost angelic, harmony of Paradise, and the myth of the Androgynous, in its' three manifestations: man - woman, man - man, woman - woman are worshiped, hated, torn to pieces, threatening to separate, remain stuck on each other despite the threats, and they finally break apart and away. And this is when they die, as they cannot survive as half parts. There is nothing beyond the stage-bed. As soon as they abandon it, they are destroyed.
In 2006 Finitsis writes the monologue In your Thirst! under the pseudonym D. S. Portoglou. Two characters, the Patient and the Healthy, in an all-white hospital room and a picture of the Holy Mother on the wall. The Patient who is hospitalized, as we later find out, because of a suicide attempt, lays on the bed, listening in silence. The Healthy rambles on about everyday things, narrates the present, contemplates the past, confesses, raves about the fragments of the love story of two boys, from the pleasures of a blithesome summer to the pain of abandonment. The unspoken oozes from his mouth, a tender sewer, an enduring passion and wrath over the betrayal of the other. In the end, the Patient throws his serum at him, without uttering a sound - his only comments referring to the weather. The Healthy one kills himself, while the Patient is liberated from his bed, to seek, off stage, death for one more time.
Within the same lines moves the play The Silence on the Mouth, written in 2007, under the pseudonym K. F. Ntagini. Iro, a whore who is not in her prime, lashes out into a delirious monologue inside the walls of a morgue, in front of a marble counter, on which there lies the bead body of a man having an erection, covered with a white sheet, her first and big love. The writer searches into the enunciation of the unspoken: ramblings, reminiscing, clarifications, apologies, confessions, admissions, revelations of secrets ... anything to break the silence. The writer's language is different here, the discrepancy of the continuity of the spoken language meets a more novelistic notion, and the character is much more psychologically clarified, white humor creates a counterpoint for the threat of death, as Iro coughs into a bloody handkerchief next to the body.
Dominatrix, which was written in 2009 under the pseudonym M. R. Anastasakis, is different in structure compared to the other plays. With no scenic directions, but presenting four characters defined as far as age and name are concerned, the writer composes what he has analyzed in his other plays, and he breaks the ground of his point of view, thus summing up a tetralogy in which he deals with death and love, through arithmetic combinations and reenactments of the Androgynous' myth.
A married middle-age couple -masters and "dominatrix" - to save their sex life use a younger couple as a sex toy, a couple that could be siblings - personnel (bodyguard, cook) and "slaves".
Erotic duets, triangles and tetragons, sadomasochism: the lack of directions from the writer allows the director the freedom to visualize more or less violence, a pornographic or insinuating performance.
This erotic game play seems to be directed by the dominatrix wife. However, none of the characters has full control over the situation, sometimes looks can be deceiving, names are pseudonyms, identities are false and relationships are negotiable. In every scene the deck is being re-dealt, the game continues under different terms, under different alliances, proclaiming different winners. And the desperation of the losers.
The middle-aged characters tear each other apart, in a relationship of worship, hatred and repulsion, while they cause physical and psychological pain to the young ones, using money and their social status. The young characters govern with their beauty and youth. They think they can take advantage of the odd situation and gain money, so that they can be socially integrated, getting rid of their foreign accent, thinking they can become one and the same with their masters. They reckon they can abandon the game at any given time, however they fail to do so, so they sacrifice themselves over the needs of their masters. When the situation is taken to the extreme, the writer takes us to a more earthly reality. The last scene of the play places the characters in the reassuring domestic environment, during dinner in front of the TV. Everything appears to have taken place inside the mind of a disturbed house-wife. A sick fantasy? Or are they sick snapshots of a gruesome family secret?
In Dominatrix Finitsis exhibits his ability to build a strong dialogue, while the characters remain quite vague. As he himself directs his plays, he allows room for redefinition of the characters, through the scenic act.
In his most recent play, in 2011, Finitsis' interest over love and death changes in style and nature, as he deals with documentary drama. Deserted is based on a true story, which transforms into "a play about 2 characters in 6 images with corresponding testimonials and a live connection." All the elements form the puzzle of a bizarre case of euthanasia: a guard kills a plastic surgeon who suffers from depression, as she asked him to do so. Using the symbolic names Wolf and Deer as pseudonyms, names that refer to Aesop's mythology and his fairy tales, the two characters are the only ones who appear on stage. The writer constructs the character's relationship brick by brick, from their first meeting to the development of fondness, friendship, love affair and human connection, in a rather tender and at the same time acute way, and in a rare economy and simplicity of speech, that succeeds in creating successfully the heroes' delicate psychological state. The other characters are videotaped and are exhibited with background images of wild nature. The parallel universe that is created appears to supplement and sometimes recreate from scratch (e.g. the wolf stereotype) the universality of mythical zoology and the human-animalistic dipole. On the other hand, the manager, the secretary, the husband, the sister, the psychiatrist, the DA -for whom footage from the real trial was used, and the reporter clarify elements of the story, after it has unfolded, in the form of statement in court, enlightening different sides of the heroes' characters. The writer, however, manages to present them as theatrical characters, thanks to the parlance it attributes to each one of them.
In 2014, in his play Northern Enigma or Man at Sea Finitsis attempts "a scenic reconsideration of the murder of George Washington Polk in Thessaloniki during the Civil War." He experiments for the second time with the ability offered by docudrama to use real life events of an infamous case, whilst creating a fictional story for the characters. The four characters of the play are presented with their real names: George (Polk), his Greek wife Rhea (Kokkonis), his friend the journalist Kostas (Chatziargiris), Harvey (Smith) the American military attendant. Following Deserted 's example, the writer chooses an alternating montage among five scenes, which are presented live in six videotaped images, creating an interesting time play.
In the "scenes" we follow snapshots of Polk's life in chronological order: his arrival in Athens to cover the Civil War, his meeting with Rhea, their marriage, his relationship with his journalist friend, the disgruntlement caused by his articles about Greece, his wish to interview Marcos Vafeadis -the reason that lead him to Thessaloniki in the fateful May of 1948, and finally his meeting with the American Colonel. Despite the expected gaps in fiction, the writer manages to succeed in his creation of the characters, thanks to the mellow and elaborate dialogue, which combines the exuberant and fragmental nature of the spoken word, in an almost poetic atmosphere of mystery from another time. The linear narration is broken by the six "images" in which the crime has already been committed and its' reconsideration is attempted. The first image presents the finding of the body in the waters of the Thermaic Gulf. In the next five images a video of George eating lobster with peas -his last meal according to the forensic report- is presented repeatedly, almost in a nightmarish way, like a ghost of history repeating itself because it received no vindication. Then a gunshot is heard, and the sound of a body falling into water. Subsequently, along with the sound of an old typewriter, the spectator reads, letter to letter, the clues of the five versions of this unsolved political crime, one in each image, and lastly the
Who murdered George Polk? British agents and Intelligence Service? American agents and C.A.S (later C.I.A)? Greek, British and American agents? Paramilitary units? Communists? Others? In the end, in an ironic mood, the writer suggests that a questionnaire is distributed to the audience, to vote. History in the hands of the People!