A performance

Aris-Retsos-Aias

I must admit: the day was slow, the price was low, that night there was not much choice. The text was “Aias”, an ancient text, untranslated; devil knows who anymore cares. One actor –masked, primitive instrument in his hands– but touchy, very touchy. He barely allowed for us to breathe, let alone speak, or move a chair.

The room was already thick with smoke; the lights went dim, the silence admittedly was rare for an audience of Greeks, who never seem to care much for things waxing cultural, poetic or refined. And then he walked into that silence with a few notes, hints of a rhythm and some syllables: vowels round, consonants hard, strange but somehow familiar words, and meaning underlined by the sound of his bare foot stepping hard on the wooden floor.

The audience first tried to understand; some even had the text in hand, but this was not an ordinary performance. We didn’t know it then, but we know it now: there was no need to understand the words, there was no need to follow story; we simply let the sounds wash over us, exchanging comprehension with immersion. And rode the waves and surfed along and finally submitted to his masterful commands −accepted this mystical initiation.

 

About when I first saw the Greek actor Aris Retsos performing parts of the Aias tragedy by Sophocles.

Aias (Ajax): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_(Sophocles)

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