Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Plutus - Aristophanes (Πλούτος του Αρσιτοφάνη)

Remember them?

Plutus (Aristophanes), 8/8/2014, at the outdoor theatre in Hania, with Stathis Psaltis (left) and Kostas Voutsas (right).

If you grew up in the 60s-70s among the diaspora, you'll remember watching slap-stick comedian Kostas Voutsas (right) in his youth on the big screen in your local cinema when your local Greek community group hired the venue to watch a film.

A blast from the past: Κάτι να κάιει (Something hot), probably the most successful film Kostas Voutsas ever made, starring a wide collection of famous Greeks of the stage. As for the band members, can you pick out a former Minister of Culture's husband? (Watch the whole film here.)

Another comedian, Stathis Psaltis made his name in the 80s. His style of humour perhaps reflects the 'new' Greece that had just entered the EU: Pslatis could be described as Greece's Benny Hill - most of the time, he played a highly sexed unattractive funnyman who ended up getting all the girls.

Psaltis was well-known for his now outdated roles as a 'kamaki '- girl-chaser. You can watch the whole film here. The late Bruno was one of the most well-known kamaki, which was even the subject of a documentary

The theatrical production of Plutus by the South-Aegean Theatre Company was done very well. It had been playing since last year in various outdoor theatres around the country (during the summer period, naturally).

Here, you can get a glimpse of the very high quality acting and the wonderful brightly coloured costumes that were also used in the performance I saw, as recorded last year.

This year, to take it a little further, Psaltis and Voutsas, along with Anna Fonsou (another 'old' actor) were chosen to star in it, so as to attract a wider audience. Unfortunately for the theatrical group, the old actors performed according to old and outdated norms, which kind of ruined the generally high quality of the performance - it's the first time I've seen people leave the theatre during a performance. Every sentence uttered by Voutsas and Psaltis contained one of 'malaka', 'malakia', 'malakies', 'gamo', and 'gamisi'; it seems that the audience did not come to hear this at all. Then again, what else does one expect of such big-screen old-timers, whose main theatre roles have always been part of the επιθεώρηση* production type?

I would have walked out early too, but I stayed just for the kids to get a chance to see the actors up close. We had a bit of a chat about what we saw, what we liked, and what we didn't like after the show, the main talk centering around a photo I took with the actors.

As for Anna Fonsou, she turned down her role after all, because she was not happy about the money she would be receiving for her performance. One would think that all these old actors would have been renumerated well enough over the years, and saved some of their hard-earned savings, but this is not always the case in Greece. In fact, I question how Kostas Voutsas was moving around Greece playing at different venues all over the country int he very hot weather, at his age (83). Anna Fonsou also recognised this problem a decade earlier, and has worked very hard to set up a fund for unemployed Greek actors who run into financial difficulties in their older age when they are past their prime. It was a shame that we did not get to see her, but hopefully it was for a good cause.

*επιθεώρηση (e-pi-the-O-ri-si) = review, "a special type of Greek theater, purely Greek. A kind of mixed entertainment with dancing, music, satire that combines prose and monologue, dialogue and song. A kind of theatre that, without political and social commitments, monitors the latest developments and sets alight with humour the ills of the day" (http://www.mytheatro.gr/epitheorisi-theatro/)

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