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Ekaterini Antonakaki

Ekaterini Antonakaki’s performance ‘The void (En matière de vide)’ developed in collaboration with Sébastien Dault was recently presented in France, first as part of the Amiens Theatre Festival under the title ‘Tendance’ organised by the Maison de la Culture, and later at the Saint Nazaire Theatre.

Last November, Ekaterini Antonakaki presented the installation piece ‘Dans la nuit du meuble’ as part of the Nuits Blanches series at the Maison de l’Architecture in Amiens, where she also gave a talk on directing, and the relationship between space and objects, which is a central pillar of her work.

As the director explains, the theatre troupe “La main d'œuvres” (a not-for-profit society for research and creativity) operates within a framework tailored towards artistic exploration. “Focusing on the challenges presented by space and time, we are creating stage props, spectacles outside of the norm, where the plastic arts, acrobatics, the theatre of objects and music met in a form of poetic circus, ‘playing’ on stage alongside the actors, sets and props”.

According to Sylvia Brendenal, artistic director of Schaubüde, a shadow puppet and object theatre in Berlin, “Ekaterini Antonakaki is one of the most unusual artists involved in ‘visual’ theatre in France. She directs works for children and adults alike, using the stage in each case as a place to reflect poetic and philosophical forms; a place for artistic transformation.

In the work entitled ‘The Void’ Ekaterini Antonakaki is responsible for stage direction, music and set design. A ladder hangs suspended from the main stage (8m high at its lowest point!) connecting an open door in the stage floor with another door high in the air at the end of the ladder which also leads nowhere. A soft beam of light highlights the silhouette of the rungs on the ladder.

Behind the upper door one can make out the shadow of a lamp, and lit only by it there is a man oscillating in space. Strips of light cross in the dark. When the work commences, the sets resembles a drawing. Other than the latter, the items on stage are transparent, most of them made of plastic. Glasses, cups, umbrellas, coats, dresses, a house; all transparent like a glasshouse.

- At the end of the performance the beams of light come to rest on two transparent bodies (one male, one female), before slowing fading out. These two objects, like all the others, serve as metaphors for the void, as an example of a game comprised of the casing –the outer- and the void. A game of what is obvious and what lies behind the obvious. A game of surface and concealed, facade and inner darkness. Light and chaos.

- The text by Aristidis Antonas which considers the void as a place for things that are lost, hidden things, and things found again, is the basis for this image-driven stage journey which also describes a couple’s failed attempt to get to know each other.

- The performance which addresses the void is so rich in theatrical inventiveness, acrobatic scenes; moments of pure imagination, so full of charm and beauty, that it’s difficult to describe what you are seeing. The impression that leaves itself imprinted in memory is that you just witnessed a poetic attempt to create a universal artwork, a Gesamtkunstwerk. Image, music, sound, objects form a score that serves as an empty map, overturns our perceptions and gives a deafening power to the silence”.

The work is expected to be presented in November 2015 at the International Puppet Theatre Festival in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.