Performed in Turkish and English, Persona Theater Company’s new play "And God Said" speaks beyond language and culture in a story about a man, a woman and a baby stuck between an uncertain future and an unrecognizable past.
The play takes place in a timeless, unfamiliar place. It is set in a moment of post-apocalyptic doom, where an unnamed, vague and completely devastating catastrophe has done away with the ability to communicate by erasing all sense of meaning, memory and time as markers of human understanding. It is in this timeless, spaceless scene that the characters of "And God Said" find themselves and each other.
Stranded in this landscape is a man with a baby and a woman. Unable to communicate because all the parameters of sense and of personal and interpersonal history are erased, the man and the woman hold fast onto the baby as their ultimate existential reference. The baby, who must be fed when all resources of nourishment and of sense have been pulverized, becomes the living picture of human defenselessness.
Written and directed by Greek theater artist Avra Sidiropoulou, "And God Said" features acclaimed Turkish actors Derya Durmaz and Teoman Kumbaracibasi. The actors portray the confusion, sense of loss and tiring feeling of placelessness with urgency and skill. They speak primarily English for two-thirds of the play, but their acting really shines when the actors switch to Turkish. Both Durmaz and Kumbaracibasi’s on stage presence grows and the climax of the play, highlighted with their switch to their native tongue, packs more punch because of it.
Animations are projected onto a screen on stage and run through out the play, produced by Silo 1 creative studio, giving fluidity and movement to the play’s narrative. The animation establishes a sense of rhythm, serving to both complement the narrative and foreshadow the moments to come. Sidiropoulou said she directed her animation team with words like "freedom, love, damage and memories."
The costumes, designed by Tomris Kuzu, are what fashion magazines might call doomsday chic, with drab grays made hopeful through slight touches of color. They even seem like extensions of the projected animations and the play’s score. The music for "And God Said" is original and was written by Vanias Apergis, the play’s author and director Sidiropoulou’s longtime collaborator. The music conveys a mood consistent and in sync with the play’s narrative arc.
The 36-year-old Sidiropoulou wrote the play during the 2007 Greek forest fires. She was in Istanbul, away from her native Greece, when the fires broke out. The raging forest fires were her inspiration to write a play focused on the aftermath of a truly global ecological disaster. "I just felt that I had to react to the world," she said.
This project is a continuation of Athens-based Persona Theater Company’s involvement in international collaboration and especially in bringing together artists from Greece and Turkey in pursuit of art forms that speak beyond language and culture and redefine understanding. After its world premiere in Istanbul, the play will be performed in cities around the world such as Athens, Thessaloniki, New York and Tehran.
Only three performances
Persona Theater Company will present the world premiere of "And God Said" at Garajistanbul from April 28 to 30 for three performances only.
The play is in line with Persona’s existential preoccupations as well as with its experimentation with dramatic form. It also bears the marks of the same approach to culture manifest in Sidiropoulou’s earlier plays, notably in "Clytemnestra’s Tears," which theater lovers had the chance to watch in a trilingual show Ğ Turkish, English and Greek Ğperformed in Istanbul in 2004, starring Derya Durmaz from Turkey, Themis Bazaka from Greece and Kristin Linklater from the United Kingdom. Such perspective is articulated in a globalized environment, where understanding transcends linguistic boundaries and where ritual raises itself above cultural limitations.
The play’s premiere at Garajistanbul will be the starting point of the project's world tour. The choice of Istanbul as the beginning of a long journey was not accidental. The city standing at the crossroads of East and West was not only the source of inspiration of the play, but is also of strong emotional and existential significance for all participating artists. The play will be performed in several international festivals around the globe and each time the last part will be presented in the host country’s original language. Ultimately, Persona’s goal is to find the freedom beyond tight linguistic structures that exist within artists and human beings at large.