The Kindly Ones

new creation at the
Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial
Commissioned by
the Festival der Regionen 2019
Austria and La Strada Festival, Austria

It is a mysterious thing, this process of creating a new work. Curious to the dark, committed to translating what is not yet there, all along the process of rehearsing with no certainty of sound or of what to say. Step-by-step, the text, the sound and the body of the performance gradually took shape. That is exciting and scary at the same time. During this process, some writers remained very close to us becoming our precious guides to a world all too cold and stiff: the “Kindly Ones” by Aeschylus, Thukidides’ “Epitaph”, Purcell’s “Cold Song” and of course the texts and poems of Iakovos Kambanellis, the Greek survivor of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. As from the very beginning we questioned how to touch upon the Holocaust in a light and even humorous way, we soon found ourselves shifting between the ritual and the political sarcasm, the metaphysical and the pragmatic in search of the right tone. In the end, the final assemblage of emotions, thoughts and music was almost a matter of chance.

Elli Papakonstantinou

Credits

Concept + Libretto + Direction: Elli Papakonstantinou
Musical Composition: Blaine L. Reininger
Dramaturge and Live Translations: Martina Winkel
Performers: Rosa Prodromou, Blaine L. Reininger, Maria Panourgia and a choir of elderly men from the vicinities of Mauthausen
Set and Costume Design: Maria Panourgia Costume Making: Mamadoo

Performances

Festival der Regionen 2019: 29.06-02.07.2019
Performed at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial, Austria
La Strada Festival 2020: 05.2020
Austria

Extract from “Die Presse”
THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN ART & LIFE

Will it be, like your other projects, a performance that connects opera, roleplay and new media? How important is the site-specific?

Yes, I am designing a musical performance looking for ways to engage the audience in a holistic experience.

The site specificity of this work is very important. The performance will take place right outside the walls of the Mauthausen Concentration Memorial, which is in itself a very strong statement, an invitation to reflect on parts of the European history that we have tried to ignore and are catching up with us.

So, are there also residents performing at the end, or only actors?

I am designing this work for two performers, an American a Greek and an Austrian but also for local people who will form a choir. But I m also designing this to involve the people that will come to see the show in unexpected ways. Yes, of course there are some stories incidents and thoughts that are linked to the Greek contemporaneity for example the murder of Zak a Greek activist in daylight in the center of Athens. The protagonist of this piece is a choir of elderly men that come from the vicinities of Mauthausen. Part of the performance will be rehearsed in Greece but we will also work in Mauthausen for ten days collecting interviews and implementing them in the text of the performance. It is important to engage into a dialogue with the local community who has been carrying for generations the burden of this trauma.

Telling (Greek) history in site-specific immersive experiences, involving and connecting actors of the community: This seems to be the aim that you follow with all your performances? Is this way of working (the avant-garde theatre you are known for, working with audience, the community, mixing music and theatre, etc.) more enriching than making “classical” stagetheatre, arise like that more contemporary performances?

I am exploring ways and experiment with different formats and I m trying not to copy myself. There is so much artistic production out there. There s never been so much. But how much of this resonates with the reality of the spinning world we leave in? I have the right to fail but It s important that I do so while trying to break the ice of art consumption.

When you work with the community, are there also surprises, complications that you expect?

Yes, of course. This is the challenge I give myself.

Interview with Magdalena Mayer | Die Presse-Kulturmagazin | 12.04.2019

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