Eccentric, iconoclastic and existential, this mythological fable freely mixes different genres. Burlesque, cosmic and poetic, Titans is unclassifiable.
In the beginning were the Titans. Under the tender gaze of the eccentric Euripides Laskaridis, these divinities of mythology evoke the absurdity and futility of our condition as mortal beings in a cosmic fable extending to the far reaches of time and space. A leading figure on the Greek performance scene, he summons these man-sized gods to a unique, malleable universe where the grotesque rubs shoulders with subtlety, where poetry and burlesque collide.
A meditative farce, this multifarious work delights in its incongruity, boldly tossing our human routine back to the revolutions of the stars. A long-nosed celestial creature with a high-pitched voice is incarnated by Laskaridis. He portrays snow, a volcano, a housewife ironing her hair straight – fragments of daily routine, caricatures of our ordinary, world-weary gestures. Humans with their faults and their perpetual metamorphosis, these Titans offer their liberating, ludicrous laughter in contrast to our existential angst. And thus touch us straight in the heart.
Produced by OSMOSIS Performing Arts Co
Directed and choreographed by Euripides Laskaridis
Performed by Euripides Laskaridis + Dimitris Matsoukas
Set Design Euripides Laskaridis
Costume Design Angelos Mentis
Original Music and Sound Design Giorgos Poulios
Lighting Design Eliza Alexandropoulou
Programming, Sound Design and Live Music Operator Themistocles Pandelopoulos
Sound Installation and Live Music Operator Kostis Pavlopoulos
Light Installation Konstantinos Margkas + Giorgos Melissaropoulos
Dramaturgy Consultant Alexandros Mistriotis
Artistic Collaborators Drosos Skotis + Diogenis Skaltsas + Simos Patieridis + Nikos Dragonasm + Thanos Lekkas
Director Assistants Dimitris Triandafyllou + Paraskevi Lypimenou
Set and Costume Designer Assistant Ioanna Plessa
Production Assistants Samuel Esteves Querido + Lisandra Caires
Set Assistant on Tour Tzella Christopoulou
Production co-ordinator Elisabeth Tsouchtidi
Production manager Maria Dourou
In collaboration with EDM productions / Rial & Eshelman
Created with the support of Fondation d’ entreprise Hermès within the framework of the New Settings program (Paris)
Coproduced by Athens & Epidaurus Festival + Theatre de la Ville (Paris) + Eleusis 2021 European Capital of Culture + Festival TransAmériques + Julidans Amsterdam + Megaron – The Athens Concert Hall + Centro Cultural Vila Flor (Guimarães)
With the support of O Espaço do Tempo (Montemor-o-Novo) + NEON Organisation for Culture and Development (Athens) + Centre Culturel Hellénique (Paris) + Isadora & Raymond Duncan Dance Research Centre (Athens)
Presented by Infopresse in association with Usine C
Written by Elsa Pépin
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Athens & Epidaurus Festival, on June 6, 2017
Euripides Laskaridis (Athens) OSMOSIS Performing Arts Co
A leading figure on the contemporary Greek performance scene, the young choreographer and performer Euripides Laskaridis studied acting in Athens at the Karolos Koun Art Theatre and directing at Brooklyn College in New York.
A performance artist since 1995, he has worked with directors such as Robert Wilson and Dimitris Papaioannou. He has been presenting his own theatre and film works since 2000, and has received acclaim for his short films. In response to the Greek financial crisis, in 2009 he founded his own company Osmosis and created Relic, a work selected for Aerowaves and presented in Barcelona in 2015.
It was also featured at some twenty international festivals, including Biennale de la danse in Lyon and Chantiers d’Europe of Theatre de la Ville in Paris. In 2016 Laskaridis was awarded one of the inaugural Pina Bausch Fellowships, which enabled him to observe the choreographer Lemi Ponifasio at work, in New Zealand and Chile.
For his first visit to the FTA, Laskaridis and his company Osmosis will present a piece for two performers that combines theatre of the absurd with dance, circus and burlesque. In Relic, Laskaridis employed an artificial transgender body, a grotesque creature flung into a terrestrial décor. In Titans the performer continues his exploration of transformation and the ridiculous.
Wearing costumes and prostheses designed by Angelos Mentis, he anchors his fable in a celestial universe in a time before the gods. He delves deeper into his study of the human condition by means of archetypes whose faults reveal the limits of our ideals, of humankind in perpetual evolution.
In Greek mythology, the Titans were the second generation of divine beings, preceding the Olympian deities and ruling the universe before time began. Why return to the Titans?
When I start working on a new piece, I have no idea what I’m going to talk about. Ideas come to me and it’s like assembling a puzzle, putting things together until you realize it’s a complete world. I imagined a creature with a big nose and a belly, maybe pregnant, in a celestial world where another creature steps out of the darkness. I wanted to go back to the beginning of time and the universe, to the beginning of the world, back to the mother of everything, who might also be the mother of Relic, my previous piece.
Titans is the prologue to Relic and deals with humanity’s constant effort to understand our relationships with others, with the gods, with nature and the universe. I like titles that work like a capsule, that are rich in meaning. I thought that if my creature is a Titan, it’s not much more of a Titan than I am or you are, in fact anyone who believes in his own system. Everybody becomes a Titan, not only human beings but the gods as well. The Titans were beaten and replaced by the 12 Olympic gods. The title of the piece is ironic, because we will all be replaced one day, just like the gods who replaced the Titans.
The show borrows from different styles (burlesque, theatre of the absurd, circus), and combines domestic and celestial worlds. Why that baroque commingling?
I like shows that work, regardless of genre, whether it be a circus or dance performance, or music hall. There are some commercial shows that work extremely well and there are avant garde pieces that don’t but because I love the performing arts I try to look with love on each piece, in the same way I view human beings.
I often find in the absurd (Beckett, Ionesco, Dali, the Dadaists) that love for human fragility, for the person going through life thinking that everything is normal and organized, when in fact nothing is; every day is a surprise. We have to make sense of things that don’t make sense. I think that in the surrealist world there is that expression of love for humanity. For me, it is normal to pass from a domestic world to a celestial universe, in the same way that when we dream we enter a surreal world, and then return to our real life when we wake up.
They are not separate worlds, but the same world. My piece focuses on our need to encounter the other, but I let the spectators imagine whatever they wish. It’s how I understand life. I don’t like categories or closed meanings. I don’t believe in them. I have come to realize that the less restricted the meaning, the greater the chance to acquire poetics, a quality of life.
You play a lot with physical metamorphosis, with costumes, with changes in lighting and sound distortion. Why that penchant for transformation?
A costume is a tool to create. I can’t create without an exterior metamorphosis. In theatre school we learn to work from the inside to the outside, starting with an internal process that matures and then determines the movement, the space.
It took me quite some time to stop feeling guilty about the fact that I start with images I want to create, without knowing what they mean, and to understand the stories I tell once the spectators are in their seats. Starting from the outside may be considered fake, and grotesque in a shallow way, but I feel – because we think so much before we create – we are losing a sense of magic, and that sense of magic is something people need nowadays.
I work with my collaborators to develop three-dimensional pieces, I like to call them 3D embroideries, and of course the lighting and the voice are part of it, not just the set and the movement in space. When the sound designer found my high-pitched voice for Titans, I knew right away that that would be my language.
That was one year before the première, that’s normal for me to work one year in advance for a piece. We also used styrofoam by necessity, because I wanted to be able to move a bunch of fluorescent lights together, so we glued it to styrofoam panels and all of a sudden this became a material of Titans peculiar universe. That’s how our world was built, a constant negotiation between necessity and taste.
How important is the comic dimension in your work?
I see life through humour. When I get stressed, I step back to look at myself from a distance. Then I see that my reactions are exaggerated, that I am taking things far too seriously. We can always compare our situation with what is happening around the world and put things into perspective. It is that laughter that I seek in performance, the ability to laugh at oneself.
“Odd but never uninteresting”
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 2017-02-01, about Relic
“It’s like watching social codes splintering through a sketch show experiencing an existential breakdown.”
Tom Wicker, The Stage, 2017-02-06, about Relic
“What the hell, just go with it. It’s worth it.”
Sanjoy Roy, Sanjoyroy.net, 2015-04-19, about Relic
“Very impressive and consequently mesmerising to watch.”
Lucy Basaba, Theaterfullstop.com, 2017-02-05, about Relic