A perpetual comment based on the idea of the socio-political situation considered as a time bomb, which, whereas is heard ticking, will never explode; its joints are worn by time and environmental factors. The play originates from the modern reality in Greece, seen through the scope of kilometric distance. As time in the country goes by in mute, the intensity of violence is escalating. As the intensity of violence is escalating, its citizens get used to it, integrate it into their rationality. The
spectator is by definition an observer, not participating to a long-distance relationship. Everyone is equally to blame. A performance for an actor and a dancer, who through different codes explore the
thin lines of violence in love and hate, who feel that the equilibriums of their lives are dangerously threatened, because one of them sees a walk in the park as a race through blood, stones and tear gas, as a minor or a major war. The irony is that they did not want anything to disturb each one’s desire for the other, they would kill for this desire –maybe this is the most rational “I want” in the world.
An idea conceived in Zurich last December, created in Athens, returns in Zurich to premiere.
5. Mai 2013
10+5: The Athens Experience (Interview)
We – the duo ernst leben for 10+5 – met with Eirini Sourgiadaki and Dimitra Liakoura at the bar Stall6 of Theaterhaus Gessnerallee to talk about their play “My first tic tac of all your seconds”. Eirini is responsible for script, concept and direction, Dimitra for set, stage and costumes. The premiere took place on May 4 and was staged again on May 5. From June 1 to June 3 the play will be shown at Onassis Cultural Center in Athens and in August in Lithuania. The full version of the interview will be published here as a PDF soon.
10+5: Yesterday, we talked about the fact that your play is taking place in a room between Athens and Switzerland, for example, … why is it this room inbetween and do you compare those two places somehow?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: No we do not compare, actually we show a contradiction and ask the question of what can make us happy: is it money, is it love or is it both or nothing?
Dimitra Liakoura: It’s more like commenting all the time. The space came up as an idea because from the text we don’t really understand where he [ the protagonist; editor’s note ] is and all the time he talks about not being at the right time. So it came to my mind that he is actually in a non-place, like the writer Marc Augé mentioned in his essay about non-places. Non-places have no history, no social identity. Actually, it was the most proper place to put him, but is has nothing to do with Zurich. The non-place could be a smoking room of an airport.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: It’s the distance that makes you feel secure and insecure – I’m talking about this socio-political, financial thing. That you feel safe and secure in a city like this and in Athens you feel totally insecure and not safe at all. You have nothing … you have nowhere to lean on.
10+5: And it’s a feeling you yourself experienced?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: Yes, when I was spending time in Zurich, and I had enough time to get used to this reality and when I went back it was the same thing that is going on in Greece for three years now. It is so intense, the experience of the difference …
Dimitra Liakoura: But that was the motivation for the text. In the text it doesn’t say so. There is no line saying, it is like this in Zurich or like this in Athens. It’s a subtle point.
10+5: We would be interested in how life in Athens is right now because obviously we have no idea how you experience it.
Dimitra Liakoura: First of all you should visit to make the experience yourself, but since you asked for it …
Eirini Sourgiadaki: I think that reality in Athens is … ok, cultural things are going on and everybody is creative and all this and everybody is outside in the streets having coffees and they have no work, but it seems ok, it’s a nice mood. But nothing happens as a reaction to everything, for example to this extreme right-wing party – Golden Dawn – which kills immigrants everyday, or to the basic salary, which is 490 euros eight hours working and no money for extra hours. But nothing happens, everybody is just talking and that’s all.
10+5: So do you have an idea what else to do?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: No, and that’s the worst thing! Because it makes you feel guilty … that’s why I’m saying that I don’t like Athens. All these rich people, and this government starts ruining my life and her life and everyone’s life, and I don’t know whether it’s worth to fight for … what?!
Dimitra Liakoura: The situation is really bad, of course. I mean, I’m not having illusions that everything is ok, no! But for the first time after many years you see a very nice thing coming out of people. Like gathering and making small collectives or social medicine centres. The people have to pay just one euro and then they have their own doctor. The need made us come together. In Athens especially there is all this explosion of creativity and art. For me, since I do theatre, it is very important that despite the chaos there is something happening. I mean we have more than four, five hundred productions a year.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: But in 90 % of them nobody is paid.
Dimitra Liakoura: Yes, but you are free to do what you want to do even if, of course, you always try to reach the point where you get money.
10+5: So you wouldn’t say that people are just sitting around having coffee?
Dimitra Liakoura: No, but I can only speak about what’s happening in the arts scene. In general, we shouldn’t forget that people are still in shock. It’s new for everyone and also the old people don’t really know how to put up resistance.
But, I think, it’s very important if you are young to stay in Greece right now and make your contribution, although I understand those that are leaving. You know, you can feel that history is being written right now, that it’s real, that everything is changing. It gives you inspiration all the time.
10+5: On the one hand, you say that as there is no work you get paid for anyway you are somehow free to do what you want. On the other hand, at the Spontanfestival of neue Dringlichkeit there was a participant who said that we needed some basic income to achieve that?! So, how do people survive?
Dimitra Liakoura: First of all, I want to clear up that I know things are very bad. I’m just talking for myself, that I am optimistic about it. And I’m not optimistic because I’m waiting for the politics to do something – no!
Well, I mean, there are many people who are starving. But as I said some people are making a good effort, collecting food for everybody. For example, there is someone in my hometown who has a groceries shop. By himself he decided to distribute food to families every week. And he does it in a way so that nobody sees him who are the families he’s distributing the food to. So what I want to say is that nice things are happening, but of course it’s not really a bearable situation for people to live in.
10+5: So how do you guys survive?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: I’m a yoga instructor and I dj three times a week in three different bars. I don’t have to pay rent because I moved into the house of my grandfather who died. I still cannot pay my monthly expenses so I have to ask my mother for support. It’s quite sad for me because I’m thirty-one years now and ten years ago or so I was hoping to have enough money by now to give something back to her. You know, your parents bring you up so you want to give something back to them and now I’m thirty-one and taking money from her again.
Dimitra Liakoura: Me, I get support from my parents, too, and then there’s the little amount I get from my job as a set designer.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: Yeah, I don’t get paid for writing.
10+5: You wanna go for a cigarette? Have a break?
– break –
10+5: So you mentioned how important it has become to rely on friends and family in these times of crisis so can you maybe describe to what extent this is the case?
Dimitra Liakoura: Well, I think, the good thing is that in Greece we have a habit to meet and be together, and this has become much more obvious and important during the crisis but it was there before. So, for example, if I’m out with my friends it goes without saying that we pay each others’ bills if somebody’s run out of money.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: These days the state provides you with nothing. You’re paying more and more taxes and you get hardly anything from the state in return. Education deteriorates, insurance, the health system. So people can only rely on each other and that’s why the collective thing is getting more and more important.
Dimitra Liakoura: It’s actually how we made the play as well.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: Yes.
Dimitra Liakoura: Because we rely on each other. We had no money but each of us contributed from our small incomes what we could.
10+5: Maybe a change of topics. When you came to Zurich last time, as a part of your project you sold postcards from Greece depicting police violence. Did you experience police violence yourself?
Dimitra Liakoura: If you go to a demonstration, there is no way to avoid experiencing police violence. Maybe they don’t hit you, but the amount of tear gas you inhale is sufficient to screw you up.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: And in the past few years, from demonstration to demonstration, the violence has been increasing. Policemen hit people at the age of my mother, for instance, and killed people during the riots.
10+5: Do you go to the demonstrations?
Dimitra Liakoura: I do, yes.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: I don’t go anymore. I think that actually my way to see things is quite romantic, but I see no purpose in going demonstrating.
10+5: And what do you expect of the demonstrations when you go there?
Dimitra Liakoura: I know that it’s a symbolic action. But at least you have this feeling that you’re not alone. In the media they often understate the size of the demonstrations, calling it a minority. But if you’re there you know everybody knows many people go to the demonstrations.
10+5: And relationships, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, affected by the whole situation?
Dimitra Liakoura: For me they became stronger. But regarding relationships, I have seen and I have heard that they are affected, also amongst my closest friends. For example, when someone in a couple doesn’t have a job, it’s hard because this whole misery comes eats up the relationship from inside.
Eirini Sourgiadaki: That’s a part of our play also … I think that when you love somebody, it’s difficult to try to keep your feelings and enthusiasm at such a high level if you cannot do the simplest things like buying a present or just going and hanging out with the other.
10+5: You were saying yesterday you will be trying to deconstruct the piece into a piece with only one performer in Lithuania. So, how do the dancer and the performer relate to each other? And, is it on purpose that the talking person is a man and the dancing person is a woman?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: Mmhh, no. As I was writing the play, I was thinking of a man speaking. But I cannot explain why. But, yes, maybe they are in a real relationship or just in his mind or maybe they are two strangers but they are both present there.
10+5: Ok, when you wrote the piece, was it related to your feeling that there was nothing to do politics-wise?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: I can never explain, when I write a piece, what was happening. But for sure I know that I do not like to write about reality and I like to write imaginary stories or making new worlds and that’s the point, I think, of writing. But this play is quite real in a way. It was not my intention. So afterwards as I read it and read it again I thought that maybe this Athens experience was so intense that it came up like this. Not in purpose to be political.
10+5: So is there a political message or is there not?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: Finally I think there is a political comment, not a message.
10+5 (after the play): Can arts change politics?
Eirini Sourgiadaki: I have the hope that it can inspire people to take the next step.
6. Mai 2013
A talk about crisis, connections and culture
A talk about crisis, connections and Eirini Sourgiadakis play My first Tic Tac of all your seconds / Nobody’s story or no story at all with Kostas:
Listen to full talk here:
read parts of transcript here:
Zürich, Sunday, 5th May 2013
M: „do you believe crisis could be not only the end but also the starting point of something new?“
K: „yes i think in times of crisis people probably gonna try to find answers in this kind of existential human questions. because if you don’t have the background of a crisis it’s a little bit difficult to get involved into this kind of questions and to find a better answer to it. … and yes, and historically more or less that’s what happened in the past… times of hardship gave birth to answers that people later on used in their everyday life.“ …
„I grew up in Greece so I can relate to some of the things that happened in the play. (…) For example the gold sailing which is basically a good example for what happens in the political system, in this capitalism. “
M.: „do you think there is a connection between switzerland and greece?“
K: „everything is connected. but sometimes it is hard to find this connection. and art like this will probably help people find this connection. It’s a connection. this play here, someone who watches it here will connect to it although he is living here. in the end art is the conclusion about everyday life. you live your life and in the end you try to express that through art.“
12. Mai 2013
Talking about Greece, Switzerland and the in between
Listen to full version here: