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The World According to Me
Saturday, 8 October 2005
Media round-up
Now Playing: Idina Menzel - The Life of the Party
Some media pieces featuring yours truly...!!

Taking over ;)

Written by Conor at 1:36 PM KDT
Monday, 4 July 2005
The review
Now Playing: Chryspa - Me Kanei Plaka O Theos
I have no idea how Gregory translated the review (hopefully not TOO tamely, but I really can't complain...) but everyone who's read it really liked it.

He wrote a hilariously OTT introduction to me in the magazine, saying I was a "deep thinker of the theatre", and that this piece came from the "long and beautifully respected tradition of English-language criticism"... just as well, then, that I abandoned my original ending, which was similar, but instead of the pollution and hubris, suggested that all arrogant mother-fuckers be expelled from the Greek theatre. Which might not have gone down so well...

Written by Conor at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005 3:54 AM KDT
Sunday, 3 July 2005
Oedipus Rex - Review
Now Playing: Dalaras & Bregovic - With Two Canvas Shoes

As a frequent visitor to the Festival of Epidaurus, and a committed practitioner and scholar of Ancient Greek Drama, it is always with excitement that I approach the ancient theatre for a performance. Usually my first impression of the production will be the scale (or lack thereof) of the setting. This summer’s performance of Oidipous Tyrranos, directed by and starring Giorgos Kimoulis, judged by its set and lights alone, was bound to be spectacular. In keeping with this grandeur was the list of contributors of the performance – Kimoulis as Oidipous, and Nonika Galinea as Jocasta, with music by Goran Bregovic and (perhaps the reason the theatre was so full when I attended on Saturday July 2nd) Giorgos Dalaras as the leader of the chorus.

With this striking setting, large cast and high-profile contributors, this production seemed to me (as a non-Greek audience member) an exciting prospect. The action of the play began slowly, with various members of the chorus and a little boy gathering on stage. Soon Dalaras emerged from the chorus (and, like Thespis, showed no sign thereafter of ever retreating to the group) and it became clear that a large proportion of the audience was there to hear him singing, perhaps even regardless of the play.

As the suppliants, who open Sophocles’ play, appeared – a group of young women and one old man – and made offerings in the well at the front of Pavel Dobrzycki’s multi-layered, multi-textured set, a rare wind blew dust and sand across the orchestra. This, coupled with the harsh yellow light from the scaffolding about the black, ruined, lop-sided skene, gave a wonderful impression of the sickness and despair afflicting Oidipous’ Thebes. This chance, accidental moment, however, made me realize that this theatre always defeats those who attempt to overcome or outshine her – despite the spectacular set design (complete even with pools of water on the stage!) – the most striking moment of the production came almost in spite of all this excessive scenography.

In the setting of Epidaurus, it is difficult not to be reminded of other performances there, or indeed to compare differing productions of the same play. After Ninagawa’s youthful, energetic Oedipus and Jocasta at the Herodeion last year – where, at least, there was a sense of the destruction and immediacy of the tragic downfall of the protagonists – Kimoulis and Galinea seemed far too old for the roles. (That said, I am unfamiliar with performance conventions and tradtions here in Greece, where perhaps these roles are reserved for more mature actors). Teiresias was also reminiscent of a Japanese production – in 2002, Suzuki Tadashi’s Oedipus also appeared in a wheelchair in Epidaurus, but unlike Arto Apartian’s Teiresias, Suzuki’s forsook neither his chair nor his dignity.

The real star of this production, however, was the extremely-talented but misplaced Dalaras. At the expense even of the symmetry of the play and the balance of the show, his coryphaeus was forgrounded throughout the performance. He was costumed differently from everyone else on stage, and although its “leader”, seemed quite removed from the chorus. Bregovic’s music – very recognizably Balkan, and wonderful in its own right – seemed totally out of place here, and would maybe be better in comedy. After the first few minutes of the play, I thought perhaps that all these differing sign-systems – music, costume, set, lighting, acting, and the “star” singer – would combine to create meaning in the production, but for me they did not. It seemed more that each contributor – actor/director, designer, composer – and most particularly singer – had an individual agenda and a vanity to be appeased. This kind of production – all sound and fury signifying nothing – typifies what is wrong with the production of ancient Greek drama today. The “sickness” I mentioned afflicts not only Thebes, but contemporary performance, and – as the Sophoclean oracle stated – until the hubris and pollution are removed, life and purity can never be restored.

Written by Conor at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 12:29 PM KDT
Thursday, 30 June 2005
Now Playing: Elena Paparizou - OK
Let me state for the record - I LOVE GREECE.

I arrived in Athens (after a lovely night in London with Shane, and then a crazy day of coffees with various fab ladies in London) at evil o'clock in the morning, and made my way to Menandrou Street, site of the Amaryllis Inn hotel that I've stayed in so often. Just up the road is the Hotel Appia, which is as convenient, but far far cheaper. That's where I stayed this time round.

Somebody mentioned to me recently the adage that acting is a whore's profession, which made it seem very ironic to me that all of the streets named after the major ancient dramatists in Athens (Euripidou, Sofokleou, etc) are the epicentre of the red-light district. Menandrou, like the playwright it's named after, is less interesting...

I slept for an insane portion of my first few days in Athens, and did precious little else (apart from devouring my airport read, entitled "The Rule of Four", which was part Da Vinci Code, part Secret History. Not bad, but strictly for holidays.

Then, Saturday morning, I met lovely Fryni and Pavlina and we drove down to Epidaurus. Hurrah!! It was funny to arrive back at the hotel (where nothing has changed) and realise that it's been another year already. Having done various odd jobs, and had a quick snooze, I headed for the ancient theatre with Gregory, to see "Oedipus Rex".

I have NEVER seen the place so full. Rather than telling you about the production, I can (haha!) refer you to my review of it, which was published in an Athenian cultural magazine called "anti", that's probably on the news stands in Athens until next week, when the new issue is due. Or until it's sold out...

And for good measure, here's a photo of me, in the theatre...

Next issue - the summer course, part one... the students arrive...

Written by Conor at 12:01 AM KDT
Updated: Sunday, 24 July 2005 12:11 PM KDT
Wednesday, 29 June 2005
The Cookbook
Now Playing: Missy Elliot - Lose Control
Ironic that Missy should call her new album "The Cookbook", given that her relationship with food has been the focus of so much media attention.

Can we expect diet tips on this cd? Perhaps workout tips or cardio advice from her various muscular collaborators?!

Or, perhaps, the whole effort will be a large serving of soul food, which - for me, at least - would leave a very bad taste in the mouth...

Written by Conor at 12:01 AM KDT
Friday, 24 June 2005
Ten Days in Tokyo
Now Playing: When Hollywood Goes Black and Tan - Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings
Well, this was a long time coming...

And it'll be a little longer :P

Just putting this in to remind myself to actually WRITE this blog. I even took notes on it, so I'll have to do it, eventually...

Written by Conor at 12:01 AM KDT
Sunday, 22 May 2005
Now Playing: Elena Paparizou - MY NUMBER ONE
It's a sad thing that I missed the Eurovision this year. For anyone reading this who doesn't know what the Eurovision is, a) shame on you, and b) it's a now 50 year old song competition staged every year.

Ireland are the undisputed champions of Eurovision, having won it more than anyone else (including a stint in the 90s where we won it 4 times in 5 years...) The way it works is that the country who wins one year hosts the contest the following year. It's all very exciting, particularly the voting, which takes place after a (usually locally-flavoured) interval act that follows the performances of all the songs. Interval acts that stand out include the original Riverdance (yes! Eurovision spawned Riverdance!!) and Israeli transsexual Dana International performing the Hebrew Sabbath Prayer as a techno dance number....

Ireland's entry this year was awful, by the sound of it, and so we were booted out in the preliminaries (there are now so many countries in Europe that they have to have preliminaries to avoid an endless contest). Greece have been gearing up to win it for years, and this year, THEY DID IT. Elena Paparizou is just fabulous, and I'm so happy she won. Opa!

In a hilarious aside, the official cd includes a bonus track - the Australian entry. Australia were disqualified from the competition, on the grounds that they are not a European country....

Written by Conor at 12:12 PM KDT
Updated: Sunday, 22 May 2005 12:15 PM KDT
Tuesday, 17 May 2005
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: Madonna - Now I'm Following You.
To my stalker...
Catch me if you can!

Written by Conor at 4:13 PM KDT
Updated: Wednesday, 18 May 2005 1:37 AM KDT
Friday, 13 May 2005
Steel Magnolias
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: Madonna's American Life Album - Keeps Getting Better

I got to save my baby
Because he makes me cry
I got to make him happy
I got to teach him how to fly

I want to take him higher
Way up like a bird in the sky
I got to calm him down now
I want to save his life

Sometimes it's such a pleasure
Sometimes I wanna tear it all down
It's easy to be lazy
And hard to go away from the crowd

I know the road looks lonely
But that's just Satan's game
And either way my baby
We'll never be the same

In the blink of an eye everything could change
Say hello to your life, now you're living
This is it from now on
It's a brand new day
It was time to wake up from this dream

Written by Conor at 2:20 AM KDT
Updated: Friday, 13 May 2005 2:21 AM KDT
Thursday, 12 May 2005
Ups and Downs...
Now Playing: Stoned - Dido
Isn't it funny how people move on up and down cycles?

At rehearsal tonight for Steel Magnolias, I was reduced to tears. It's so sad, and there's a lot of drama underpinning the performances in this show. It's going to be excellent, and (I hope) quite cathartic for the ladies involved.

I've been very anxious for the past fortnight or so, up to High Do, but I'm calming down a tiny bit now. Going to go out dancing on Saturday night with friends.

Last Saturday was Ninagawa's Medea. It was absolutely fascinating, but extremely disappointing. I liked very little about it, but I have tons of things I can say and write about it. So that's good - something to keep me busy.

On the recommendation of a friend, I have been listening to Dido and Coldplay recently. Dido is just wonderful. Coldplay are a little too sad, but I like "Clocks".

I want to go to the cinema again. There's really late shows on in Tokyo, perfect for busy people like me - maybe I'll see another one soon, I hope!

Written by Conor at 2:17 AM KDT

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