Andromache or Woman Landscape at the Height of the Night … Akis Dimou,

  •  Irene Mountraki, Dramaturg - Theatre critic

Akis Dimou is a significant contemporary Greek playwright. He belongs to the new generation of playwrights who appear in the 1990’s and experiment with new dramaturgical forms exceeding the rule of the social and psychological realism. His first appearance on Greek stage is in 1995 with his famous and poetic monologue ... and Juliette, a play about the need of man to exist through love.

During this period Dimou has created a very original and personal style, he is one of the few playwrights who managed to make their live as a playwright, his plays are produced constantly and he co-operates with a vast variety of artists: both with the most important theaters and institutions of the country and the established actors as well as with the upcoming or even the experimental forces of the country. His plays, of course, very often find the way for theaters outside Greece.

His dramaturgy covers a wide range: poetic monologues, dramas of extreme sensitivity, provocative comedies with clear political references that speak of this surreal world that surrounds us and part of which we are. His intention is not to represent reality on stage, but by using new dramatic forms to reconstruct it through his bold poetic look, while at the same time his language is a mean to offer the audience an aesthetic experience.

He knows Greek language very well, he knows how to use it with a poetic and lyric mood, creating atmospheric images balancing with his subcutaneous, sarcastic humor. He infiltrates the most personal aspects of human, especially female, psychology with intense criticism and a broad political view, while at the same time he explores and maps the landscapes of love. His dramaturgy as a whole is an effort to explore Love. Love striking like a natural phenomenon, inevitable and merciless. Love like the precious rain waited by land, people and animals to quench their thirst. The author draws memories, emotions, sounds, scars and wounds from the inexhaustible book of life and embellishes memory scarves that are left pending anticipating a new blow to the wind.

However, his heroes are not mourning for their loss. His plays are an effort to keep the energy of these loves alive. In these love stories that the playwright explores, one stays back to remember. To maintain alive the ideal imprint of the other. His life becomes a half-open crack in order to be able to pierce the light and illuminate the full memories, to make them exist, real. In order to emphasize the dignity of feelings through the shadowy memory of the past. In order to keep alive the collective memory of love.

Another feature of his dramaturgy is his uninterrupted conversation with other great texts and writers in a constantly fueled dialogue. A scholar of theater and literature he grasps the thread of the tradition from which he comes and from and he goes on. Intertextuality in his dramaturgy is pure, it is done in clear terms and the process presupposes a creative transformation that ultimately leads to a completely new result that preserves the charm of the original but has the seal of its time.

The heroes of this process try to find their place but especially their new self in a modern world without betraying their past. Most of the times they have to deal with a hard, difficult present mainly because they have memory. In this gallery we will meet, among others, Shakespeare's Juliette, Anton Chekhov, the Greek poets Konstantinos Karyotakis and Maria Polydouris, Margarita Gautie, and Armando Duval by Alexander Dumas, Agapi Anderevna by Chekhov, Sebastian by Williams, Euripides’s Andromache. Exquisite examples of this form are found in the monologues of Juliet and Andromache.

In Andromache or Woman Landscape at the Height of Night, a play written in 1999, we are having an inspiring renegotiation of the ancient Greek myth. The Princess of Troy, the wife of the mythical Hector, is uprooted in Greece, as a captive of the Greeks. The war has taken everything: home and loved ones.

We meet her in Epirus where she has recovered. As the heroine tries to find the proper words in a language that is afraid of in order to recount her adventure, she draws and re-pictures images from her memory "scattering the seasons, dissolving the years to other years." She prints her sorrow to exist. She sinks into the depths of her soul, fights with her past and present to be able to withstand the future. Loneliness becomes her new homeland. There she can hope, she can exist and continue. In the place of loneliness the dimensions are simplified, time, space and death are minimized, diminished, and transformed into an intact acceptance of mortality by shrinking the pain.

Dimou’s play I will dare to say it acts like Cavafy's poetry. He uses a myth or a fact of the past to talk about the present and about the truth of his time. Andromache becomes the archetypal symbol of the refugee, his fate and his anxiety to find a new identity. A deeply antiwar, deeply human and touching play,. Using the myth, the dramaturg has the chance to talk about the whole in an already accepted code. His plays have their roots in the human soul. And that's why they activate audience immediately. 

The speech was delivered at New York Univestiy in New York on the 6th of May 2018 in the terms of the Greek Play Project New York. Translation: Dimitris Bonaros - Direction: Ioanna Katsarou