Documento | Sunday 4th March 2018
Playwrights: Ignacio Del Moral/Veronica Fernandez
Translator: Maria Xatziemmanouil
Director: Dimitris Karatzias
Music by: Manos Antoniadis
The cast was 16 actors
''The prisoners'' for the prisoners
A political theater show in Eleona's Prison in Theves
Article by: Elektra Zargani
In two words:
The show ''The Prisoners'' will be presented in the Female Penitentiary Institution of Eleonas in Theves on Tuesday 6th March.
Why it is unique:
Because it offers small breaths of freedom in incarceration conditions.
Spain, after the civil war, winter 1950. Dictator Franco rules. Female Prisons located in an abbey in the Spanish mainland. Ignacio Del Moral and Veronica Fernandez play, directed by Dimitris Karatzias with a sixteen actor cast ''travels'' in the Female Penitentiary Institution of Eleonas in Theves.
In the tough and exhausting conditions that often prevail for the prisoners in a penitentiary institution, theater and culture events are a way of communication, decompression and connection with valuable stimulus. Besides, women don't stay detached during the show. They yell, they laugh, they hug the actors, they express their disapproval when they don't like what they see.
'' There are huge needs inside the prisons. It is very important that shows be presented there because this procedure interrupts routine and opens a new way of communication'' insists the director of the show Dimitris Karatzias. It is not the first time that a show from Vault Theater is presented in Prisons. ''I wish more shows followed. Theves is not too far away. These women have so many needs because most of them are poor. We are gathering stuff till the 6th of May at Vault Theater for them'' (26 Melenikou Street, Votanikos)
An overwhelming experience
These women are very expressive during the show. ''We are going to have a great time and they are definitely going to come down on us because prisoners burst and have fun with shows even if there is plenty of drama in them. They will shout, curse, empathize, laugh and mock''. He believes that the prison world is not that far and distant than the world ''outside''. ''It is an overwhelming experience for us to connect with a reality totally unknown to us. This makes you realize what the lack of freedom is and what is happening inside prisons. We pass the high walls, the security systems, the corridors, the cells. The connection with these women, that you sense them in your mind so far away, finally becomes closer if you make a hole in your microcosm''.
The play charmed him from the very first time because it's deeply political and has to do with multidimensional and symbolic issues. ''I adore it from the first time I read it. The show takes us to the female section of a Spanish Prison in 1950 which is in a terrible condition. There are nine women prisoners, each one of them having her own shattering story. They all, of course, strive for freedom''.
The connection with our current social reality can be made with many ways. ''The incarceration and the deprivation that people feel in the society is an existing condition. Even the imprisonment someone feels in them or inside their own country. I believe that the women prisoners will empathize a lot. I don't know if the show amazes them but it definitely decompresses and make them think deeply''.
They need the support of society
The social worker at Eleona's Female Penitentiary Institution, Nicky Mousxi supports that the theater inside the prison is a liberating way for the women who correspond well in these kind of efforts.
''The prisoners burst and have fun with shows even if there is plenty of drama in them. They will shout, curse, empathize and mock''
''Two years ago, a theater group was created by the prisoners themselves and they have staged some shows, too. I think that the Art is an attempt to connect with the ''outside'' world. In Theves' Prison, there are about 400 female prisoners. They are very happy when they are accepted by the ''outside'' people. The connection and the sense of approval it's an important element, as also when they see other people show with actions their dispute of the belief that the good people are outside a prison whereas the bad ones are inside of it''.
The shows are staffed by both professional and amateur actors. Last year, almost 12-13 shows took place with actors from Chalkida, Theves and Athens, while there is a collaboration with the Alternative Lyric Scene at the same time. '' We are intensely activated. We stage concerts with small bands, there are schools, artistic expression groups, teaching guitar and traditional musical instruments groups''.
The call for every event is open and all the prisoners can attend them. ''In the audience there are immigrants, Roma women, who may not understand everything they see but they all leave the room having a small on their faces and being more positive. They will hug the artists if they like the show and eventually a very warm environment is created among them''.
She believes that the women will empathize with some of the show's parts. '' They will be able to feel that this show is about familiar conditions and they will definitely be in the actors shoes identifying elements of their personalities. I also made many connections between the actors' parts and some of the women prisoners I know from this prison''.
The actors of the show ''The Prisoners'' write on ''Gefira''
The 16 actors from ''The Prisoners", Eleni Alexandropoulou, Manos Antoniadis, Demi Antonopoulou, Despina Apostolidou, Dora Giannakopoulou, Vasos Grentzelou, Christos Kalmantis, Maria Katsarou, Stella Moukazi, Margarita Papantoni, Niki Polyzou, Sophia Rousou, Efthimis Tzoras, Maria Fragatou , Stilvi Psilopoulou and Mrs. Gianna Stavraki write exclusively at Gefira.gr thoughts and feelings on the occasion of the 4 months of performances and the new extension of the successful performance that continues until March 29th at VAULT Multimedia Center.
... After three months and 28 performances I can say that I love the role of Mandalena as much as I loved it from the first time. The truth is, I have had a hard time finding myself mitigating, but I had to justify her... The first image that Mandalena gives you is that of a cruel and ruthless woman. Besides, what I have noticed is that she is a woman who can endure anything. She is obliged to do so in order to survive. And she survives. She could survive alone in jail. She does not cry, she does not share her pain, she does not care about having a good relationship with any of her retainers - not even with some of those who exercise power - she is not afraid to confront and does not care about the opinion of others. She is honest and doesn't hide anything. The only thing she consciously and very well hides is her sensibilities. And there is no reason to show it. She holds a strong paper in her hands and she exploits faces and situations. Now, whether she is able to use it properly in her favor or not will be sawn in the show ... Stella Mukazi (MANDALENA)
... The "Prisoners" a show which I am fortunate enough to participate in, is above all a creative challenge on several levels (dramaturgical, conceptual, directional, but also acting). Featuring many of the rare elements of "good theater from the old" (multi-faceted theater, directorial line with the work of the ensemble etc.), it has a shocking humanitarian - political and always topical message to transmit ... Christos Kalmantis (DON MARTIN)
Women's prisons in the late 40's in Spain, a miniature of the social and political situation of the time. Prisoners that experience the crash and lift their own cross to the end. A powerful work that transmits our intensity and moves us in every show. I feel grateful that I work with worthy people and participate in a project that has to do with my way of thinking ... Despina Apostolidou (PAKITA)
... I feel just joy and gratitude that the performance continues dynamically, we all give our best, our passion and love for this work. I have noticed that the audience coordinates with the atmosphere of the project and participates actively in the show. They are struggling, moving, laughing, shocked - many inwardly shifting and becoming better for themselves and others. Especially with the latter I feel very helpful ... Niki Polyzou (DONA LEANDRO)
... I still have the same anxiety when the people enter the theater, the same relief when the first lines of the show are heard, the same emotion when the applause comes to an end and the same sense of freedom and uniqueness when I come out after such a tedious but fulfilling performance. I have loved my Theodosia even more. I have understood her better. I have sensed her pain better and have been given the pleasure to be able to spend these months as well as those who are about to come, to show to the audience as good as I can who she really is... Dora Giannakopoulou (THEODOSIA)
... I am very happy to be involved in this extraordinary work by many aspects. First of all, we have been working on a great play which addresses a multitude of timeless themes that torture and stigmatize our society. Second, we have Mr. Karatzias, a director whose successful works come one right after the other the last few years. Mr Karatzias is a director with whom every actor fantasize working with and be a part of his success. Finally, I liked the challenge that this work had of coexisting with so many actors. Those are only few of the reasons I enjoy working on this show... Efthimis Tzoras (DON ESTEVAN)
... "The prisoners'' for me are my joy and my support. This show has helped me overcome terrible difficulties. I feel grateful to be in this job and was given this role, the beloved nun, from whom I draw hope and optimism. Let's have many more shows! "... Margarita Papantoni ( NUN LATRIA)
... ''The Prisoners" for me is the depiction of the daily hard struggle that everybody gives in life. The challenge and the obstacle together. Nine very different with each other women struggle to survive under the violent prison conditions while at the same time giving a more prominent battle, the one they give with themselves. "Violet", my role, is the newcomer in the prison, who faces an angry herd of women as a welcome, a dynamic and tough lawyer who appears to be her lifeboat but betrays her while she is trying to stay alive by the power of love for a man who is actually responsible for her imprisonment. The tragic procession of the events that follow shows how tough the battle is that each one of the prisoners has to give. They struggle against their passions, fears and demons, trying to tear apart a false identity stuck on them by a loose, strict and absolute society that eventually defines their lives. The question is whether the real prison has walls... Maria Katsarou (VIOLET)
... "Perhaps it is the greatest joy an actor can feel when the performance in which they participate is warmly embraced by the audience. This is the case with the "Prisoners", a very collective effort that has grown very much on the stage and eventually on the interest of the viewer, who is leaving the theater relieved, excited and troubled, with questions that irritate his reflection on the reality in which we live "... Vaso Gregelou (NUN EFSEVIA)
... From the first reading this play takes your breath away. How can you confront such situations? They are so far from you. On the first day you feel numb but when the time passes you get more and more. You understand these people's position, you imagine what went wrong, you fill the gaps slowly, you slowly find yourself, there in the prisons, you defend him, their ideas and their opinions. However, it doesn't pass a single day without being shaken by the show.. Sofia Rousou (MARI CRUZ)
... It is very important and at the same time promising to participate in a good performance that you have worked for so much. After three months of performances and having received good reviews you do not feel just right, you take the strength to continue this difficult road called acting. I want to thank the director Dimitris Karatzias, the inspired musician Manos Antoniadis and the rest of the actors on this beautiful trip. I am also very proud that, among other things, I participate in a project that has touched me from the very first time and which has so many messages to pass. So I feel that I am also putting a little brick on the social and cultural wall... Maria Fragatou (MACARENA )
... When you start a job with so many other actors, you hope the show will go well. Along the way and seeing the way the director and the rest of the team are working, you start believing that it will go well and get good reviews. I hope it continues its successful course for many more shows ... Demi Antonopoulou (FOUENSANDA)
... An immersive work that inspires your interest in the first dialogues and you are eager to discover how it grows. I still remember the first time I heard an extract from the text. I was surprised and tried to guess the date that the writers wrote it. I would have never thought it was a project written in 2007! I would like to go out of the way and take the role of a viewer who sees it for the first time. I feel their intensity, emotion, the atmosphere they receive and everything they collect and experience ... Eleni Alexandropoulou (KOULI)
... Generally I like to try different situations. Impersonating some roles is a very nice challenge! From time to time, I have played some small parts in short films, but this is the first time I participate in a professional performance, where I have also written the music! It was an unexpected situation when one of the actors had to leave the performances due to personal obligations! Having no time for rehearsals, and since it was a small role we wanted to try if I could be able to replace the actor - because I knew the play well. Eventually, I took the part and it's something that I am very pleased with ... Manos Antoniadis (DON MAXIMO)
... It is a great honor for me to work with Dimitris Karatzis this year because it was a dream that took place with a very special project. "The Prisoners" is a female manifesto given in such a way that it concerns everyone regardless of sex. "Tsarito" is a young woman who is growing up under harsh conditions and is prostituting herself from a very young age. In all this darkness of the prison that surrounds her, she makes the most free and revolutionary thing: She dreams ... She wants to change her life and hope is the one that keeps her soul alive. Will conditions allow it? What happens when hope disappears, what options there are? What happens when options become fewer? She tries to face all these by fighting wildly to stand upright... Stilvi Psilopoulou (TSARITO)
... This year, I play in ''The Prisoners'' of Ignacio Del Moral, directed by Dimitris Karatzias, at Vault Theater. I have the role of the abbess of the prison, ''Concepcion de Maria''. A dual role, a stepping stone between punishment and forgiveness. A human dilemma concerning the ideas of God and man. Justice or love? Rage or Mercy? What buys off and what purifies the eternal pain of people? ... Gianna Stavraki (CONCEPCION DE MARIA)
Few words about "Prisoners"
The shows of "The Prisoners" by Ignacio del Moral & Verónica Fernández, translated by Maria Hadjiemmanouil and directed by Dimitris Karatzias, with a 16-member theater group, are successfully extended until Thursday 29th March 2018. Every Wednesday and Thursday at 21:15 at the VAULT.
The work was initially written to be presented by the graduates of the Royal Academy of Madrid in 2007, but due to its great success, it was staged on the central stage of the Madrid National Theater in 2008 directed by Ernesto Cabagero.
The first to place Ignacio del Moral's work on a Greek stage was Stathis Livathinos in the Experimental Stage of the National Theater (2006), ''The look of the dark-skinned man.''
Spain, winter of 1950, after the civil war. Church and Fascist are cooperating. Dictator Franco rules. Catholicism. Women Prisons inside an abbey outside of a provincial town of the Spanish hinterland. Cold, hunger, illness, isolation, violence, abuse, death.
Women imprisoned. Some for political reasons, such as the communist and anarchist, and others for stealing, prostitution, adultery, illegal abortions, killings, one who killed her husband and another who drowned her baby. They are happy, they laugh, they fall in love, they dream, they hope, they pray, they smile, they get angry, they grumble, they are cracked, they despair, they cry, they are hurt but they always stand by each other. They want the most precious thing, their freedom, a new start, a new beginning.
As a chorus of an ancient tragedy, they are waiting for a god to help them, the bishop, so one of them receives the grace he gives every ten years. The grace will be given in two weeks. Only this grace is what everyone wants. And they all claim it. But some are determined to take it. As the days pass by, the intensity grows higher. The more their hope for grace grows, the more their pain and despair grow. Extreme conditions and extreme passions lead to extreme behaviors. A devastating visitor. Convicted secrets come to light. Balances are lost. And then a series of revelations and reversals lead to the tragic end.
INTERVIEW: 3 ''PRISONERS'' ESCAPE FROM VAULT THEATER TO TALK TO FRESHART24.GR FOR THEIR SHOW.
Friday 9th March 2018 11:22 a.m.
Interview: Anastasia Stavraki
Sofia Rousou, Margarita Papantoni and Stilvi Psilopoulou in an exclusive interview for Fresh Art24 about The Prisoners at Vault Theater
fa24) The Prisoners. At Vault Theater. A tough and real show about Spain of 1950. Is this show related to the present by any means?
Sofia: Unfortunately, we live in a difficult era. Living conditions in the penitentiary are not better at all, while the economic crisis stroke an already bad situation and the shortages in first aid items are huge. Immodesty rules our world in all levels, like in the show. The strength of the powerful is imposed in the legal system. The position of the woman has become better only on the surface but tell me: Does a woman, who prostitutes herself in order to survive, have a voice to be heard in Greece in 2018? The show is about all these issues.
Margarita: In this show we see the lives of some women prisoners. Nowadays, life is hard for the most of us, mainly in terms of the economy. People anguish over the future. We are waiting for something, for someone to take us out of this situation. I think this is the meeting point of the show with our current reality.
Stilvi: Definitely. Maybe the words we use change through the passage of time, the decades succeed each other but the societies and theirs systems always stay the same. The history repeats itself and the pressure the systems puts is huge. This is why this show is more timely now than ever. It doesn't address only the penitentiaries but it has a universal character.
fa24) Tell us a few things about the plot of the play and the messages it expresses.
Sofia: The play is about a female penitentiary in'50s in Spain, when the dictator Franco rules, after the war. There have been many arrests and the penitentiaries are full of political prisoners, those who have escaped execution. The Spanish church goes hand in hand with the policy, therefore prudishness and humility are forced. The prisons get filled with prostitutes and even with women charged with adultery. All these women wait for redemption. Redemption here is the grace that the bishop offers to one prisoner every ten years. The messages the show passes are those of hope and dream for something better and that no matter the harshness of any situation and even if we have lost our faith in humanity, there will always be someone there to hold our hand.
Margarita: In a prison-abbey in Spain in 1950 a grace is given by the bishop to a prisoner every ten years. The story takes place one week before the giving of grace. We see their living conditions, the relationships they have with each other and with the abbey's staff. We see their will and agony to take the grace and the way each one of them fights for it. I think this is the most important message the audience takes in the end, that even in the worst times hope stays alive.
Stilvi: The plot evolves around the everyday routine of the women who live in the prison department of an abbey in a provincial city of Spain. Harsh living conditions leave them straggling to define their identity, to define who they are and who they will be. Hard times for someone to define themselves into any social frame (under the shadow of the ''grace'' that is about to be given by the bishop in a few days in a lucky one for the honour of Saint Perpetua. A thing happening every ten years.
fa24) Do ''The Prisoners'' have the right to dream?
Sofia: Everyone has the right to dream. This is what makes us move, get up from bed in the morning, the expectation. No one has the right to forbid it to someone else.
Margarita: All the people have the right to dream. Thought and soul can't be imprisoned.
Stilvi: The most rebellious act the ''prisoners'' can do is to dream. I like that you put the word 'prisoners' into quotation marks. This way the word is generalized and refers to the other 'prisoners'. These people who live outside the prison and are under the slavery of an occupation they don't like, a family they haven't chosen and finally the social facade they are forced to wear by the fear of daring something new. Unfortunately, the social institutions under which we live, destroy us everyday by making us feel inadequate and incomplete.
fa24) Do they have the right to do anything for the sake of freedom?
Sofia: The word ''everything'' is very general. The answer is ''of course not''. When you chose to live in a society, you learn that it is constructed by rules. If you do something against the rules, the society itself will punish you, according to the rules it is run by. If someone gets convicted unfairly, e.g. because they resisted to the strength of a powerful person, I don't know if they can follow the phrase ''I will do anything for freedom''. Maybe, I wouldn't be so judgmental towards them.
Margarita: This ''everything'' has to be in the frame of legitimacy and of not hurting other people.
Stilvi: Yes, since they don't bother someone else and they do take the responsibility for their freedom which is the most important thing of all.
fa24) Can human relationships be put up higher that personal interest, both in this show and in real life too?
Sofia: This should be done. I know a lot of people who have done it and they represent hope. Eventually, it is about how we define personal interest.
Margarita: It depends on someone's personality and beliefs. For me, relationships with the people worth a lot more.
Stilvi: Of course they can and should be higher than the personal interest. This way people would feel real happiness, away from the walls the ego builds, away from the antidepressant pills and the artificial fantasies. All we need to notice is how happy children are. They live in now and they stay unharmed. If we only used them as an example, then most of our problems would be solved.
fa24) It is a show that doesn't have a lead. On the contrary it manages to have 16 people sharing with balance the ''weigh'' of the show and at the same time to differentiate with each other on stage. How difficult it is for so many people to function as a whole on a small stage?
Sofia: First of all, a big help was the structure of the play that allows every character to be lifted in a way so as balance is created. From the other hand the coordination, especially in the scenes with many people, was difficult but with the guidance of our director Dimitris Karatzias everything came easily.
Margarita: It was quite tough, especially for our director but I think that he has done an amazing work by giving light to every character and with a magical way he achieved to create a show of many actors. I also think that the small stage helps in creating the atmosphere of the play and the bonding of our group.
Stilvi: The most important thing someone can do in order to lift their work is to lift their co-workers first. This says everything.
fa24) Is it stressful for an actor to be in a so emotionally demanding show as compared to a comedy?
Sofia: Every play has its own difficulties but yes it is difficult to sense all this pain and injustice.
Margarita: I will only give my personal opinion here and I will say that for me it works as a redemption. The same thing happens with comedy but in a different way.
Stilvi: It may be emotionally demanding but it functions relieving at the same time. We, humans are constructed by both good and bad feelings and we should communicate both in order that we be real. Especially by being actors we have the obligation to give light to people and situations that cannot be shown by any other way. It is our debt to show that there are dark places, too. Through this act comes the redemption.
fa24) Do you carry back home after the show all these emotions and the tension or leave them on stage?
Sofia: We leave them on stage, though we take the tension home. I mean you find yourself being tense in times you shouldn't be. But this isn't happening with the emotions. They come to an end after the applause in the end of the show when you see on the audience's eyes that the proper communication has been contacted.
Margarita: We owe ourselves to leave everything behind.
Stilvi: You definitely get affected to a certain point but this can work reversely, too. When you have tension from everyday routine you can release it on stage. This way new creativity dimensions open.
fa24) What is it that makes a show successful? The script? The actors? The director? Something else?
Sofia: All the things mentioned.
Margarita: All these things contribute. I also believe that the audience makes a show successful.
Stilvi: The love of the people who are involved in it because love gives birth to passion and passion gives birth to success.
fa24) In a period of time when most of the people argue that what the spectator wants is to laugh and get away from their problems how this kind of a show achieves to draw such an attention? What is it that people are looking for and finally manage to find it in ''The Prisoners''?
Sofia: I don't think that people come to the theater to get away from their problems. I think that people want to be emotionally touched because this way they learn and gain experience they haven't lived by themselves. The thing that moves them is the truth of the story told on stage. This is the thing that people find in ''The Prisoners'', the truth of every character that constitutes the story.
Margarita: They get emotionally moved, they see people fighting for their freedom and dreams. They may find a little courage in themselves, too.
Stilvi: I think that real happiness comes from truth. When you come face to face with the truth the way it is, raw and unprocessed, then you feel really free and happy. I am afraid that people want to see something to make them laugh and have fun, something that doesn't usually elevates their mentality ( I don't mean that everything that makes us laugh doesn't elevates our mentality)only to get away from their problems and their responsibilities. It would have been better if we all tried to take our responsibilities, start making our own decisions and solve our problems by looking them straight in the eye. I believe that the more we try to avoid something the bigger it gets.
fa24) Would you like to present us the coefficients?
Sofia: Of course! It has been written by Ignacio del Moral & Verónica Fernández and translated by Maria Hadjiemmanual. Dimitris Karatzias directed, choreographed and guided us with great patience and huge reserves of endurance. The original music is written by the multi-talented Manos Antoniadis. We had three director assistants who have to thank for helping us in every way, Danae Baruchu, Yelena Gagic and Daniela Straty.
Margarita: The costumes and sceneries belong to Giorgos Lintzeris. Costas Bakalis created the set and costumes were made by Martha Christoforidou. Vangelis Mudrichas is the light designer and the photos were taken by Christina Fylaktopoulou.
Stilvi: We are the 16 actors: Demy Antonopoulos, Stella Makati, Fragatou Maria, Margarita Papantoniou, Maria Katsarou, Elena Alexandropoulou, Efthimis Tzoras, Christos Kalmadis, Despina Apostolidou, Vaso Grengelou, Nicky Polyzou, Dora Giannakopoulou, Stilvi Psilopoulou , Manos Antoniadis, Sofia Rousou and Gianna Stavraki.
fa24) How long will the show been running?
Stilvi: Our show had an astonishing success, so it will be extended until March.
Sofia: For eight more performances ..
Margarita: Till the 29th March.
fa24) Thank you for the beautiful interview! All the best for the continuity and the success of your show!