Δύο μέτρα και σταθμά

October 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Γράφει ο Κώστας Γεωργουσόπουλος, ΤΑ ΝΕΑ, Σάββατο, 3 Οκτωβρίου 2009

ΠΡΙΝ ΑΠΟ ΧΡΟΝΙΑ ΚΑΠΟΙΟΣ ΘΡΗΣΚΕΥΟΜΕΝΟΣ ΒΑΝΔΑΛΟΣ (ΕΤΣΙ ΤΟΥΛΑΧΙΣΤΟΝ ΧΑΡΑΚΤΗΡΙΣΤΗΚΕ ΑΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΠΟΛΙΤΙΚΗ, ΤΗΝ ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚΗ ΚΑΙ ΙΔΙΑΙΤΕΡΩΣ ΤΗΝ ΑΡΙΣΤΕΡΗ ΗΓΕΣΙΑ) ΝΥΧΤΑ ΑΠΕΚΟΨΕ, ΜΕ ΣΦΥΡΙ ΠΡΟΦΑΝΩΣ, ΤΑ ΓΕΝΝΗΤΙΚΑ ΟΡΓΑΝΑ ΤΟΥ ΑΓΑΛΜΑΤΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΔΙΣΚΟΒΟΛΟΥ ΣΤΟΝ ΚΗΠΟ ΤΟΥ ΖΑΠΠΕΙΟΥ, ΑΠΕΝΑΝΤΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΟ ΚΑΛΛΙΜΑΡΜΑΡΟ

Αυτό το απεχθές γεγονός θεωρήθηκε (και είναι) εκτός από βανδαλισμός, φασιστική απόπειρα να επιβληθεί λογοκρισία στην τέχνη, να επέμβει αυθαίρετα και τρομοκρατικά μια ηθικολογούσα ιδεολογία στην ελευθερία της έκφρασης.

Επίσης πριν από λίγα χρόνια στα σχολικά εγχειρίδια του λυκείου κάποιοι σεμνότυφοι, για να το πω κομψά, εκπαιδευτικοί σύμβουλοι, υπεύθυνοι για το μοναδικό βιβλίο ελληνικής Λογοτεχνίας που εκδίδεται από τον Κρατικό Οργανισμό Εκδόσεων Σχολικών Βιβλίων είχαν αφαιρέσει από το ποίημα του Καβάφη «Ιθάκη» τούς στίχους: «Και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής- όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά». Ήταν μάλιστα εποχή Ακαδημαϊκού Απολυτηρίου και το ποίημα μπήκε ως θέμα στις εξετάσεις και τα απαξιωτικά σχόλια για τη λογοκριτική επέμβαση σε ένα τελειωμένο και καταξιωμένο έργο τέχνης δώσαν και πήραν και εκτός εκπαιδευτικής κοινότητας που έγκαιρα σε ανύποπτο εξεταστικό χρόνο είχε διαμαρτυρηθεί.

Πριν από πολύ λίγα χρόνια κάποιοι αλήτες, φασίστες και πουριτανοί, είχαν γεμίσει με αγκυλωτούς σταυρούς και αισχρές αναφορές την προτομή του Κουν στου Μακρυγιάννη στην αρχή της οδού Φρυνίχου, όπου το «Θέατρο Τέχνης- Κάρολος Κουν». Σύσσωμη εξεγέρθηκε όχι μόνο η θεατρική, καλλιτεχνική εν γένει κοινότητα, αλλά κυρίως ο ευαίσθητος πάντα προοδευτικός Τύπος. Πέρα από τη χυδαία προσβολή που γινόταν στο πρόσωπο ενός σημαντικού εργάτη της τέχνης που τίμησε το ταλέντο του και τη χώρα, γινόταν βάναυση επέμβαση στην ακεραιότητα και την αισθητική ενός καλλιτέχνη- εδώ του γλύπτη που είχε ελεύθερα αποδώσει στην ύλη το ήθος και το ύφος του Δασκάλου, ακολουθώντας τους κανόνες και τις αρχές της τέχνης του και της ιστορίας της συντεχνίας του.

Για να φτάσω στην ακραία υπερβολή εκείνων που κάκιζαν τον Μίκη Θεοδωράκη που δεν είχε κρατήσει την άνω τελεία (!) στους στίχους του ποιήματος «Άρνηση» του Σεφέρη που μελοποίησε. Ξέρετε: «Πήραμε τη ζωή μας· λάθος, κι αλλάξαμε ζωή».

Κι αυτή η υπερβολική ευαισθησία υπερασπιζόταν, εδώ ακραία, τη βούληση του ποιητή, την αυθεντική του σκέψη, αλλά και (κι αυτό χρησιμοποιήθηκε ως κριτική) τη ρυθμική ακολουθία!! Δεν χρειάζεται, πιστεύω, να αναφερθώ στις ιερεμιάδες που έχουν γραφτεί, ακουστεί και συλλαληθεί για τον σεβασμό που οφείλουμε στα αρχαία μνημεία. Ένα αρχαίο θραύσμα αγγείου μετατοπίζεται από μια προθήκη, ένα πωλητήριο στήνεται σε αρχαιολογικό χώρο και επιστρατεύονται συχνά βίαιες αντιδράσεις για την ιεροσυλία. Και δικαίως, λέω εγώ.

Και βέβαια η πανεθνική εκστρατεία για την επανένωση των Γλυπτών του Παρθενώνα, πάνω σε τι τάχα επιχειρηματολογείται. Ότι ένας κλέφτης της Ιστορίας, ένας αρχαιοκάπηλος λόρδος διέσπασε μια γλυπτική ενότητα, αφαίρεσε καταστρέφοντας την αρμονία ενός μνημείου, αλλά και την πνευματική καλλιτεχνική Σκέψη ενός Γλύπτη, τμήμα όλου προκαλώντας μια ανεπούλωτη πληγή και διασαλεύοντας την ισορροπία του έργου τέχνης.

Αγανακτήσαμε πρόσφατα γιατί σεμνότυφοι υποκριτές έριξαν μπογιά σε ζωγραφικό πίνακα σε διεθνή έκθεση και προχθές διότι πέρα από την αλήθεια του περιεχομένου που θέλησαν κάποιοι να αμφισβητήσουν λογοκρίνοντας την Ιστορία, προσέβαλαν βάναυσα την ελευθερία έκφρασης του σκηνοθέτη Γαβρά.

Ο αείμνηστος Μάνος Χατζιδάκις (και ήμουν ο μοναδικός μάρτυρας στη δίκη για τα προσωρινά μέτρα, που έγιναν δεκτά) είχε ασκήσει το ηθικό πνευματικό του δικαίωμα και είχε απαγορεύσει να παιχτούν έργα του στην περίφημη τέντα της λεωφόρου Συγγρού, διότι, ισχυριζόταν, ότι τα έργα του δεν ταίριαζαν με το σκεπτικό, την όλη σύνθεση και το κοινό που εκείνος επιθυμούσε να απευθύνεται.

Δυστυχώς όμως, ο νόμος περί πνευματικών δικαιωμάτων και κατ΄ εξοχήν το ηθικό δικαίωμα (δηλαδή η προστασία του έργου Τέχνης ή της Λογοτεχνίας από όποια κακοποίηση, κακομεταχείριση, εμπορευματικοποίηση και παραποίηση) δεν ισχύει μετά την παρέλευση εβδομηκονταετίας από τον θάνατο του δημιουργού. Τα πριν απ΄ αυτό το όριο είναι έρμαια στις ορέξεις των εμπόρων, των διαφημιστών, των διασκευαστών, των κάθε είδους και ήθους εκμεταλλευτών της πνευματικής ιδιοκτησίας.

Αυτό σώζει π.χ. που δεν μπορεί ένας μεταμοντέρνος χλεχλές, Γερμανός ή άλλος, όχι μόνο να αλλοιώσει ένα έργο του Μπέκετ, αλλά και να του τροποποιήσει τη διανομή. Έτσι οι φύλακες των πνευματικών ηθικών του δικαιωμάτων (ανεξάρτητα αν οι παραγωγοί είναι διατεθειμένοι να πληρώσουν τα νόμιμα οικονομικά δικαιώματα), οι κληρονόμοι του πρόσφατα απαγόρευσαν σε γερμανική παράσταση να παιχτεί το «Περιμένοντας τον Γκοντό» από γυναίκες ηθοποιούς. Ο Αισχύλος όμως, ο Σοφοκλής, ο Ευριπίδης, ο Σαίξπηρ, ο Μολιέρος, ο Γκαίτε, ο Τσέχωφ δεν γλιτώνουν.

  • Ο κάθε ρατές σκηνοθέτης μπορεί να αφαιρεί πράξεις από τον Στρίντμπεργκ και να μπολιάζει τα έργα του με τον μισητό του Ίψεν

The 15 golden rules of theatre etiquette

August 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

From Times Online, June 19, 2009
  • The play’s the thing – so shhh. Our chief theatre critic explains what to do with your sweets, crisps and mobile phones

Benedict Nightingale

No talking during the performance: PLEASE!

No talking during the performance: PLEASE!

1 Don’t just switch off your mobile in response to what’s very likely a cute invitation from some fake-friendly voice. Make sure it’s off before you enter the theatre, thus making sure that you’re not publicly humiliated by Richard Griffiths or A.N. Other.

2 Never whisper, let alone talk, during the performance. If you’re hard of hearing, hire a loop rather than bother your companion for info about the plot. And don’t hum along with songs, even if they’re by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

3 Don’t bring picnics. In fact, don’t eat anything, not even your fingernails, even if the play is, well, nail-biting. If you must buy an ice cream in the interval, make sure you finish it and dispose of the carton before the restart. The scraping at remnants sounds like scratching on a wall.

4 If you fear that you’ll cough, bring a handkerchief to smother your mouth and pastilles to put in it. Considerate theatregoers would rather asphyxiate than interrupt a good actor.

5 Always apologise if someone is forced to stand as you make your way to your seat, but if you are late (and you should never be) reduce your apology to a quick, sorrowful nod.

6 Don’t clap actors’s entrances, even if they’re famous, or their exits, even if they make them in the swaggering style that half-invites applause. All this is dated and naff and makes you look like a celeb-hungry prat.

7 Have nothing to do with standing ovations unless a performance is close to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In America such ovations have become meaningless and, if they don’t occur, they indicate disapproval. We don’t want them to become regular here.

8 If a friend is on stage in a comedy or farce, or has written one, don’t pile on the laughter. The artificiality is usually transparent enough to make failure more and not less likely.

9 If you must go to that often obnoxious, spuriously glitzy occasion, the first night, don’t ponce about pretending to be an important guest, even if you are one. Think of your fellow audience members and the actors, both of whom want to get on with the show. And that show isn’t about you.

10 No need to dress up, let alone wear dinner jackets and evening gowns, as was once the case. But try to be a little better dressed than the critics, who often look as they’ve been grabbed from a washing machine that hasn’t yet been turned on.

11 If you see a sleeping critic don’t necessarily wake him or her up, as guilt is likely to ensure that his or her review is more favourable than it might otherwise be. But don’t let him sleep too deeply or he may (and this has happened) crash into or across an aisle, causing injury to the innocent. And snoring is unacceptable, whoever does it and however awful the show.

12 If critics irk you by scratching notes on a pad, be forgiving. They’re only doing their jobs. And virtually all critics accept that lighted pens, once common, are now verboten. If you see a critic turn one on, whisper something tactfully germane, like “you blind sod, switch it off”.

13 If the child you’re bringing is chatty, gag it. If it’s fidgety, handcuff and shackle it. And if you’re altruistic enough to bring a school party to a Shakespeare matinée, threaten potential wrongdoers with tickets to the next revival of Timon of Athens, to be followed by a ten-page essay on the ethics of Apemantus.

14 Try your hardest not to be tall, which means shunning headgear and primped-up hair. And if you can’t help your height, ask for a seat on the aisle or somewhere where you won’t interfere with people’s sightlines.

15 If you are maddened by a fellow member of the audience, postpone a serious or violent encounter until a suitable pause in the action, preferably the interval. But usually a schoolmarmy stare and an English sniff, followed by a reproachful smile, will suffice.

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The women changing the face of theatre

August 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

  • From The Times, August 1, 2009
  • “When I was acting, I couldn’t even get an audition at the Royal Court. But I never want my plays to become vanity projects. It has to be real, otherwise it’s worthless.”

  • Not since Pinter and co has British theatre possessed such a brilliant wave of young playwrights. But this time round they are all women

Lucy Powell

Playwright Polly Stenham

“What’s happening now is remarkable,” says Dominic Cooke, artistic director of the Royal Court, referring to the extraordinary crop of young women writers who are rewriting theatre’s rule book. “It’s like being in the Eighties.”

In that decade the most exciting, revolutionary and enduring work for the stage was being produced by women, with Caryl Churchill in the vanguard. Afterwards, blazing comets such as Sarah Kane appeared, but there was “nothing like the critical mass and complete confidence we’re witnessing now”, Cooke says. “It is fantastic, and it is astonishing.” New works by women are igniting the Royal Court, the Young Vic, Chichester, and Soho theatres as well as New York and the West End. In October 21-year-old Atiha Sen Gupta’s first full-length play, What Fatima Did . . ., about a Muslim girl’s decision to wear a hijab to school, will headline the Hampstead Theatre’s new season.

The question, as Cooke says, is not why this is happening now, but why it didn’t happen earlier. Last year Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s Her Naked Skin became the first original full-length play by a woman to be shown on the National’s main stage. “Things are slowly changing,” the National’s artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, says. “But there have been, and probably still are, fewer women playwrights. Of the plays offered here, about one in four is by a woman.”

Since that is manifestly not the case in other creative mediums, it is worth asking why. Shakespeare’s sister, Judith, invented by Virginia Woolf in 1928 to explain the dearth of great women writers, died young, never having stained her fingers with ink. In Elizabethan England there were two good reasons for this. First, women were busy trying to keep themselves and their children children alive. And, second, often they could not read.

By 1928 women novelists had taken their place in the pantheon, but Shakespeare’s sister remained strangely muted on stage, particularly when you consider that Aphra Behn, the first female professional writer in English, was also the most productive playwright of her day, after Dryden. Behn was adamant that had her plays come out under “any man’s name”, she would have been hailed the genius of the Restoration. As it was, she was decried as a syphilitic “punk” and her works pilloried for being too saucy.

Stella Feehily’s third play, Dreams of Violence at the Soho Theatre, has been hailed a spectacular modern tragicomedy, says: “Women wrote novels because it could be done at home. Theatre not only culminates in a very public event but also is dependent on collaboration in a sphere that has traditionally been dominated by men. It requires an enormous amount of confidence and single-mindedness to write ‘the big play’ — and I’ve rarely met the man who wasn’t convinced of his opinions.”

Of the writers mentioned here, none views themself as a “woman writer”. The very phrase, according to Lucy Prebble, “propagates something we ought to be well over by now”. The sentiment is best expressed by Ella Hickson, who concludes: “The single most important thing that I can do for feminism in theatre and for my gender is to ignore it completely, get on and do the job.”

Woolf concluded in 1928 that despite the Austens, Eliots and Brontës on her shelf, much work had yet to be done. It was only, Woolf argued, when women were completely oblivious to their gender that they would be free to write with untramelled originality. When that day arrived, she predicted, Shakespeare’s sisters would at last begin to speak. Judging by the bold, brilliant and gender-blind women featured here, that day has come.

1 Polly Stenham Stenham pocketed the word precocious when That Face opened at the Royal Court in 2007. She was 19 when she wrote it, and her portrait of a family in Freudian meltdown was hailed as an astonishing, groundbreaking debut. The multi award-winning production, starring Lindsay Duncan as an alcoholic, addled mother, transferred last year to the West End for another sell-out run. Her follow-up, Tusk Tusk, opened at the Royal Court in May. “The expectation was mammoth,” Stenham says in her surprising, smoky alto. “I was in rehearsals all day, writing all night, and by the end I was this shaky little wreck. The Royal Court had to put me to bed at one point.”

But that viciously incisive tale of three, upper-crust, uncared-for children was similarly deluged in praise. Like her first, it’s also being developed by Stenham for the big screen, and she is now working on her third play. “It’s about friendship, friends as a second family,” the 23-year-old says. The play is due to open next year in the Royal Court’s main house. “They’ve let me downstairs this time, which is really tricky,” Stenham admits with a nervous laugh. “You’re up against the big dogs down there.”

Stenham’s parents divorced, she boarded at Wycombe Abbey and Rugby public schools and was brought up by her unconventional, business tycoon father. She now lives in her father’s house in Highgate with her younger sister, Daisy; “Cob” Stenham died in 2006, aged 75. She dedicated That Face to him, and credits him with instilling in her a love of theatre. “It was our hobby,” she says. “But I didn’t have a burning desire to write plays. I wanted to write novels, and still do,” she says. “I just sort of fell into playwrighting by accident.” She abandoned a degree at UCL after she was accepted on a Royal Court writers programme. “And I feel so lucky I did. It makes sense of the world. And even if it didn’t, it just makes me so happy.”

2 Alia Bano “This has been a seriously strange year,” Bano says. Her debut play, Shades, a sassy, incisive comedy about a young Muslim woman’s search for love, was a hit when it opened in February, equally beloved by young audiences and gobsmacked, middle- aged critics. She was driven to write it because she was “sick of so many Muslim caricatures in the media, every boy a terrorist, every woman oppressed under a hijab”.

At the same time, Bano didn’t want to be branded “a Muslim writer. I am a Muslim, but I’m just a writer.” She wanted to write all through her teens, but didn’t know how to start until her sister suggested a young writers’ course at the Royal Court. Three similar programmes and four years later, Shades was born. “I teach A-level students during the day, so I couldn’t dedicate my whole life to it,” she says. “You need money as an artist.”

Her sister, with whom she lives, is now pushing her to complete her next two commissions, one new play for the Court, and another for a Midlands company, but “with our mum it’s really funny”, Bano says. “She doesn’t take it seriously at all. If you’ve been brought up in a British culture, being a writer is something amazing and spectacular. My mum comes from a working-class, Pashtun culture where it’s all about professions. She’s pleased, but also totally oblivious.”

Her father died when Bano was 9, and her mother raised her eight children “on the dole. And none of us are on the dole now, which is impressive,” Bano adds. But it was always her elder sister who proved her greatest inspiration. “She broke through a whole load of cultural barriers when I was growing up, going to university when it was so not expected of her and becoming a lecturer. She made it much easier for me to do whatever it was I wanted,” Bano says. “It meant I never had to carry that feeling that I had to fight and be the first.”

3 Ella Hickson If Polly Stenham’s plays are glittering riffs on Larkin’s, “f*** you up” school of posh parenting, Ella Hickson’s take an antithetical view. “My generation’s hideous,” the 24- year-old says in dampened, public school vowels. “Lazy, expectorial, so stupid. Apathy reigns. ‘Chill out’ is the death word. We have chilled out. Now what?”

In Hickson’s case, the answer was Eight. Fresh out of Edinburgh University with a first in English and art history, she set about writing a series of monologues with audiences voting for the four stories they most wanted to hear, the unpicked actors sitting mutely on stage. “I wanted to front that idea of choice, of taking responsibility for what you’re watching,” she says.

The show, which Hickson also directed, scooped the Fringe First and Carol Tambor awards at the Edinburgh Festival, had a subsequent, three-week run in New York and another that recently closed in the West End. Both garnered huge acclaim. Her follow-up, Precious Little Talent, opens next month at the Edinburgh Festival, a three- hander about “what it means to graduate into a recession”. Hickson says: “My generation is so laden with cynicism, but we’re going to have to fight now. Where will the fuel for that come from?”

Her own emanates largely from her mother, an English school teacher, who “brought up two kids on her own” in Surrey, and “was vicious about making us go to the theatre, travel, read, and take a stand”. Hickson had always written as a child, but what pulled her to the theatre as an undergraduate was the sense of belonging that she experienced there and the feeling of freedom that followed. She plans to stay in Edinburgh for another year, working on her first novel on a scholarship at her university and developing another play for the Traverse Theatre. “It’s a bit busy,” she says, but this isn’t something that troubles the redoubtable Hickson. “Contentment,” she concludes, “doesn’t breed great writing.”

4 Lucy Prebble Lucy Prebble’s second play, Enron, has just opened in Chichester prior to an extended Royal Court run. “It’s slightly crazy,” the 28-year-old says. “I was getting ready to tell everyone that I’d written this really sensible, naturalistic play about corporate finance and then “Rupert bloody Goold”, who directs, “came along and threw a load of mad dinosaurs and singing and dancing into it. If it’d got all two-star reviews, that would’ve been my take.” As it is, she’s happy to admit that every last dinosaur was her idea. Critics are describing Enron as a “staggering”, “revolutionary” achievement, already being tipped for an Olivier award.

“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful because I’m thrilled,” Prebble says. “But, equally, I was critically kicked to f*** over Secret Diary of a Call Girl,” her muchderided 2007 ITV drama, starring Billie Piper as the slightly moody hooker. “If I take seriously all the five-star reviews, I have to take seriously what they said then.”

Like Stenham and Bano, Prebble is a graduate of the Royal Court’s young writer’s programme. Her first full-length play, The Sugar Syndrome, about paedophilia and chat rooms, won her a raft of “most promising” awards. She’s consistently drawn to “half hidden worlds”, those that people warn her off: “I hate being told I won’t understand something,” she says.

The youngest of three children, she attended the same public school as Hickson, grew up in Haslemere, and studied at Sheffield University where she wrote her first, award-winning play, Liquid. No one in her family is an artist, but she wanted to write, she says with a detectable half-smile, because “I like control. I like having conversations where people can’t answer back,” and she loves theatre because it’s “live, real and just so good to its writers.”

For audiences, though, Prebble is aware that it can be painful. “When it’s bad, theatre’s awful. Spending an hour getting there, being overcharged for drinks, sitting in silence in the dark looking one way. If I’m going to ask people to go through that rather than sit at home, playing the PS3 in their underwear, I’d better be giving them something special, funny and clever.”

5 Alecky Blythe Alecky Blythe, 36, spent 18 months in a “completely normal, cosy” brothel by the sea, eating crisps with the women in the parlour, gathering evidence for her new show, The Girlfriend Experience. A sensation when it opened at the Royal Court in 2007, exploding every stereotype about latter-day prostitution and the women who work in it, the show has recently transferred to the Young Vic by popular demand and has been optioned to television.

The Girlfriend Experience is her eighth work, though Blythe is still loath to describe herself as a playwright. Every word spoken on her stage has been recorded in interviews. Lines are then relayed to the actors via visible earpieces, allowing them to retain the verbal ticks of the original interviewees. The technique also reminds audiences of the authenticity of the material. “You write it in the programme but nobody bloody reads them,” Blythe comments. But her skill at eliciting and editing her material into punchy, performable shape is gaining international recognition.

She pioneered this recorded, verbatim technique for her first show, Come Out Eli, which was based on the protracted siege of the Hackney gunman Eli Hall. She took to the streets with a tape recorder, a vague list of questions and a hope of making a play. “I didn’t do it because I thought women were under-represented in theatre,” she says. “I did it because I was an actress in a load of old rubbish and I wanted to be in something half decent.”

She changed her name just before Come Out Eli, in an effort to get more parts. “My real name was Bulgen,” she says. “All these stupid casting directors would look at my name and go, ‘ Russian?’ And I’d be like, ‘no no. Essex actually’. I thought I’d help these poor people out as much as I could.” Blythe was the name of an inspirational drama teacher, who’d helped her through a “tricky time” when she was 7.

“I haven’t hung up my acting … socks, if that’s the phrase,” she says. “I’m just waiting for the right character to come along. I was offered a part in this, and it was so so painful to turn it down.

A Stage for Social Ego to Battle Anguished Id

July 2, 2009 § Leave a comment


Franz-Peter Tschauner/European Pressphoto Agency
Pina Bausch in 2004.
The New York Times: June 30, 2009

Because dance does not use words, and much of its spell lies in aspects of contrast, rhythm and coordination, it is only occasionally taken seriously as drama. With the greatest choreographers of recent decades, it has been, and yet even Martha Graham, George Balanchine and Merce Cunningham — to name but three — have not won the acceptance as theater artists that they deserve. As dramatists, they at least equal the playwrights who have been their contemporaries. But this is still too seldom said.

The productions of the German choreographer Pina Bausch, however, always and immediately made a striking impact as theater, and the audiences they attracted included many who were by no means dance specialists. Choreography as a term does not suffice to define her work, which frequently used the spoken word and relied on elaborate scenic effects. Anyone who saw her pieces will recall how the women of her “Rite of Spring” covered themselves in earth; how in “1980” the stage was a lawn; how “Carnations” (“Nelken”) began as a field of, yes, carnations (gradually trampled as the work proceeded); and how “Palermo Palermo” began with the coup de théâtre of a tall wall, across the stage, toppling forward and falling apart.

Even if you objected to much of Ms. Bausch’s work — I did — it was a shock to hear of her death on Tuesday at 68. To recollect those and other images is to remember the strange courage of her vision. Who else put such worlds onstage? How much of her choreography, if any, can survive her? Plenty of it has been filmed. (Parts of “Café Müller” and “Masurca Fogo” looked very appealing in Pedro Almodóvar’s 2002 movie “Hable con Ella.”) But mainly, as they say, you had to be there. A wall falling over on film is one thing. But when a wall falls over onto the stage not far from you, the impact is of another order.

What is scarcely diminished by Ms. Bausch’s death is the art of dance. There were good dance moments in her work, but they were usually of secondary interest and choreographically of no lasting import. Her big-scale dance episodes were mainly wild and vehement forms of not quite coherent expressionism. The women’s anger and suffering in “Rite of Spring” and “Iphigénie en Tauride” were both memorable and vague. The pieces’ lack of dance precision was part of their point, as was the way they seemed to flaunt a kind of unfocused and unrigorous intensity that in almost any academic-dance classroom would be considered bad style.

But there were several kinds of dance in Ms. Bausch’s theater pieces. Several of her epics included arch little routines (sometimes with the cast coming into the auditorium, and usually performed with women wearing red lipstick) involving a small social-dance-like step pattern, smart upper-body gestures and — here the Bausch style was always at its most precise — sophisticated facial expressions. The dichotomy between this social ego and the incoherent flailings of the anguished id was central to much of her work.

Another strange component of Ms. Bausch’s dance style was bad ballet. The way her performers would make a point of forcing themselves to do adagios, turns and jumps — drawing to your attention all the muscular, stylistic and technical imperfections that obviously flawed the dancers as ballet technicians — was part of the extraordinary masochism she often placed onstage.

Masochism was a recurrent feature in Bausch theater: you would see not only dancers tormenting another dancer (holding cigarette lighters to the soles of feet, for example, or pelting a face with tomatoes) but also the degree to which the victim was complicit in his or (usually) her suffering. Unusual among non-ballet artists of recent decades, there was little or no gender neutrality in her work: the differences between men and women were central and a subject for drama.

No single label will do. Ms. Bausch was not just a green artist protesting the desecration of the environment (though that was a powerful element in her works) or a feminist depicting the opposition between women’s pain and their social conformism (though that was evident) or an expressionist emitting rage at aspects of the socio-political status quo (though the intensity of that feeling was unmistakable). In some of her pieces she seemed to be celebrating the charm of the world, not just mourning its erosion. And she was often funny.

Her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, must be remembered for its many extraordinary performers, who would open themselves up onstage to the audience in startling ways: with alarming directness, wicked slyness, exaggerated elegance and manic fervor. “You know them better than you know your best friends,” one critic remarked in the 1980s.

She was a theater poet. Whether the images added up to successful poetry became part of the debate. I have used the word incoherent about her: it applied most obviously to the structure of most of her works. Yet that incoherence wasn’t quite a flaw. To me, most of her pieces expressed the inner landscape of the depressed mind, here obsessed and there rambling, often compelling. But she was at pains to elude definition.

In thinking of the Bausch works that might have been, you imagine aspects of beauty, humor, big-scale visual imagination, as well as darkness, sarcasm and intensity. And the simplest way to feel her loss is to reflect that now there will be no more Bausch pieces for us to argue about. The scene is smaller without her.

Pina Bausch rehearsing “Café Müller” in 1995. Her pieces combined dance, spoken word and scenic effects.

Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ημιμόρφωση

May 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

  • Της ΚΑΤΕΡΙΝΑΣ ΔΙΑΚΟΥΜΟΠΟΥΛΟΥ, Η ΑΥΓΗ: 22/05/2009

Η Δύση έπλασε έναν μύθο για τον συγγραφέα, άλλοτε παρουσιάζοντάς τον ως δημιουργό και άλλοτε ως μια αδύναμη φωνή ανίκανη να αρθρώσει κάτι ουσιαστικό, έτσι όπως απομυθοποιήθηκε από τα πρωτοποριακά κινήματα του 20ού αι. Μέσα στα όρια αυτής της διάστασης εντοπίζονται οι απαντήσεις στα ερωτήματα της θεωρίας της λογοτεχνίας σε σχέση με το θάνατο του συγγραφέα.

Αλλά, ακόμα και αν πέθανε ο συγγραφέας, έρχεται η «ημιμόρφωση» να τον ανασκευάσει και να τον «αναστήσει» με τη βοήθεια οδηγών ή σεμιναρίων συγγραφής. Πρόσφατο παράδειγμα αποτελεί η πρωτοβουλία του Ιταλού ερευνητή Πιέρο Μπρουνέλλο, ο οποίος μελέτησε την αλληλογραφία του Άντον Τσέχωφ και απομόνωσε «αποφθέγματα» για την τέχνη της συγγραφής κατασκευάζοντας έναν οδηγό με τον τίτλο: Η τέχνη της γραφής: Συμβουλές σε έναν νέο συγγραφέα, όπου η ανθολογία αυτή φέρεται να έχει ως συγγραφέα τον ίδιο τον Τσέχωφ, σαν να είχε πρόθεση ο μεγάλος Ρώσος συγγραφέας να απομονώσει από την αλληλογραφία του συμβουλές και σχόλια για επίδοξους συγγραφείς.

Η λίστα οδηγών δημιουργικής γραφής είναι μακρύς στην ξένη βιβλιογραφία, αλλά και στην ελληνική: Μάριο Βάργκας Λιόσα, Επιστολές σ’ ένα νέο συγγραφέα (Καστανιώτης), Πόλυ Μηλιώρη, Δημιουργική γραφή για μελλοντικούς ομότεχνους (Ψυχογιός), Πατρίτσια Χάισμιθ, Πώς να γράψετε ένα μυθιστόρημα αγωνίας, (Πατάκης), Στίβεν Κίνγκ, Περί συγγραφής. Η ιστορία μιας τέχνης (Bell), Μανίνα Ζουμπουλάκη, Πώς να γράψεις (IntroBooks). Εκτός από τα εγχειρίδια δημιουργικής γραφής, τα τελευταία χρόνια στην Ελλάδα ευημερούν και εργαστήρια του είδους (ΕΚΕΒΙ, εκδοτικοί οίκοι και ιδιωτικά κολέγια), με σκοπό να διαμορφώσουν την τεχνική σε νέους εκκολαπτόμενους συγγραφείς.

Το 1914 ο εικοσιεξάχρονος Ευγένιος Ο’ Νηλ κατέφυγε στο Πανεπιστήμιο του Harvard για να διδαχθεί την «τέχνη της γραφής». Η διδασκαλία των «μυστικών» της θεατρικής γραφής κράτησαν δύο εξάμηνα, ενώ η προσπάθεια του Ο’ Νηλ να ξεχάσει τις καλοφτιαγμένες συνταγές που διδάχθηκε κράτησε μια ζωή. Ο Αμερικανός συγγραφέας αποφάνθηκε ότι ο καλλιτέχνης της γραφής οφείλει να αναζητά και να ανακαλύπτει μόνος του την προσωπική του τεχνική.

Όλη αυτή η διαδικασία «συνταγολόγησης» της τέχνης αποτελεί έκφανση της «ημιμόρφωσης», δηλαδή, όπως μας εξήγησε ο Αντόρνο στη «Θεωρία της ημιμόρφωσης», η ανάγκη του ατόμου να προβάλλεται ως καλλιεργημένος ενώ στην πραγματικότητα δεν είναι. Στην περίπτωση του δημιουργού όλοι γνωρίζουμε ότι σε καμία περίπτωση το ταλέντο δεν εξαγοράζεται. Το άτομο, λοιπόν, που έχει ημιμορφωτικές ανάγκες καταφεύγει σε προϊόντα κουλτούρας που θα του παρέχουν ένα «δήθεν επικάλυμμα μορφωμένου».

Τέτοια προϊόντα είναι τα βιβλία που διυλίζουν τα έργα μεγάλων φιλοσόφων και λογοτεχνών και παραθέτουν τα «καλύτερα αποφθέγματα» ή «μελέτες», όπως «Τα εκατό σπουδαιότερα βιβλία», όπου παρατίθεται η σύνοψη του περιεχομένου τους, ώστε ο αναγνώστης να φαίνεται ενημερωμένος.

Το βαρβαρότερο παράδειγμα ημιμόρφωσης -σε σχέση με τη μουσική- παρουσιάστηκε στην Αμερική τη δεκαετία του ’70. Ο Αμερικανός μουσικολόγος Sigmund Spaeth (1885 -1965) ήδη από το 1936 είχε γράψει ένα βιβλίο με τον τίτλο: Great symphonies: How to recognize and remember («Μεγάλες συμφωνίες: Πώς να τις αναγνωρίζεις και να τις θυμάσαι»). Μετά τον θάνατό του, το 1972 επανεκδόθηκε και σημείωσε τεράστια διάδοση, παραμορφώνοντας τη μουσική συνείδηση ενός ολόκληρου λαού.

Ο Spaeth σε μοτίβα κεντρικών θεμάτων διάσημων συμφωνικών έργων πρόσθεσε στίχους, οι οποίοι τραγουδιόντουσαν σε στυλ σουξέ, με απώτερο στόχο να εντυπωθούν στη μνήμη. Οι «στίχοι» αυτοί στόχευαν επίσης στο να «αποκαλύπτουν» γνωστικές πληροφορίες για τα μουσικά έργα, π.χ. στο κεντρικό θέμα της Ενάτης του Μπετόβεν είχε προσθέσει φράσεις όπως: «Σήκω! Η σπουδαία Ενάτη είναι τώρα στο χέρι σου!» και πλήθος άλλων ανοησιών…

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