[b]Bread of Words[/b]

Nikos Mitrogiannopoulos Opens
in New York

Thiassos Club, New York

Nikos Mitrogiannopoulos gave a thrilling performance last Sunday in a play based on the poetry or Yiorgos Chouliaras. The performance took place at the Thiassos Club in New York City.

The play consists of a number of poems by Chouliaras which depict disparate images ranging from a cabaret to bread and refugees. The poet himself is a "character" in the play and he recites lines as well as interacting with the other two characters.

The second character is played by actress and dancer Evelina Papoulia. She takes a statuesque position on a raised platform and does not interact with the audience at all until the end when she engages in a ritual dance with the main character. Ms Papoulia has a stunning stage presence and can engage the attention of the audience just by staring into space.

The centrepiece of the performance is clearly Mitrogiannopoulos who also directed the piece. He is dressed all in white except for the beginning when he is draped in a black cape. He is an actor, a dancer and a bard - a singer of poetry in the Homeric Sense. His baritone voice paints every image whether in English or Greek as if it had a life of its own as an impressionist painter.

The set designed by sculptor Manolis Mastropavios-Paraschos is an apt reflection of the spoken images of the poems. It consisted of some candles and some of his own work. His sculpture is of parts of the human body - head, legs, arms - that resemble a human being after an explosion. They were highly effective.

Mitrogiannopoulos and Chouliaras present a unique phenomenon. Mitrogiannopoulos, the actor believes that poetry not only has a place on the stage but that it can renew theatre. He has done the poetry of Margaret Atwood onstage as well as classical tragedy.

Chouliaras, who has published a number of volumes of poetry, believes that performance can invigorate poetry. These two approaches provided a thrilling evening of theatre that reached from the rock of Manhattan to the ancient plains of Attica.

James Karas
"Chronicles" Wednesday May 5 1993