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A visit to the extremely interesting exhibition presented last year at Paris’ Musée d’Orsay entitled ‘Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society’ prompted the highly talented director Ioli Andreadi to write a play. The work entitled ‘Artaud/Van Gogh, avec un pistolet’ was initially staged as a theatre reading and from 31.1.2015 premiered in its completed form at Simeio Theatre.

Paris 1947. A true fact. After 9 years of being locked up in a psychiatric hospital, the French actor and director Antonin Artaud gave a lecture entitled ‘Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society’ to a lecture hall packed with famous intellectuals and psychiatrists of the day. Seeking out the reasons for the great painter’s suicide in his paintings, notes and correspondence, Artaud suspected that the real instigators were among his audience.

“I chose to stage that text because I’m interested how a character, Artaud, talks about someone else’s life, about Van Gogh; defends him, vindicates him and finds strength from the light that shines through the artist’s darkness,” said Ioli Andreadi in an interview with Greece’s Kathimerini newspaper. “Van Gogh painted at an insane rate, while hurting mentally all the time. That strength, which Artaud brings out, allows Artaud to think bright thoughts, and to battle his own darkness even if it is only for the duration of the lecture”.

In writing the play, the important thing was to discover how the character thought, to ensure that the text was heard, not to overly beautify things, or use some artifice. In an extremely minimal performance, almost ‘bare’ one might say, the spectator watches a single man on stage (Artaud) talking about another man (Van Gogh) whom he admires and identifies with. Performed by Ioannis Papazissis.

“Generally speaking I’m interested is creating pieces where there’s no first or second roles, where all the characters have the same worth,” pointed out Ioli Andreadi, adding that what she’s interested in is “people who don’t belong to their environment, who don’t feel comfortable within society, anyone who’s different”.

Having mainly worked abroad, Ioli Andreadi has become best known for her work as part of the World Wide Lab and is less known for the works she has staged in Athens. However the play Kassia, based on her own text inspired by the figure of Kassiani, does really deserve a special mention.