With a love for "optical illusions and ridiculous tricks" as well as some dark creative inspiration, Dimitris Papaioannou will bring his spectacular The Great Tamer to Perth Festival in 2019.
Dimitris Papaioannou, who drew attention and acclaim with his creative direction of the Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, will bring The Great Tamer to Perth Festival in February, 2019.
The performance itself is a surreal spectacle, described as a live painting, and sees ten performers take the stage to explore the notion of a human life's being a journey of discovery, an exploration for hidden treasure, an inner archaeological excavation for meaning.
Its philosophical narrative follows a character simply known as 'The Man', who leaves a dying Earth to turn his attention to other planets.
When asked if this work is a pessimistic one, Papaioannou disagrees.
"I don't think it's pessimistic but it does circulate around the idea of death," he says. "The awareness of death signifies the whole human history of civilization."
Papaioannou argues that The Great Tamer is a depiction of a kind of an internal journey, and neglects to concern itself too deeply with the concerns of the future or presenting a realistic scenario.
"It is an allegory upon the human struggle to tame the energies that are inside him and around him in order to become a fertile human before he or she dies," Papaioannou says. "It is a story I told in visual times about how to make sense of life as time passes and 'tames' us before we depart."
The body as paint
Papaioannou doesn't use large sets or screens for his backdrop in The Great Tamer. Instead he uses his performers' skin tone as a kind of a bright pigment on a dark background.
"When you work in a dark environment, in 'chiaroscuro' as we say in the language of the painters, then you have to create light coloured statements against a black background," he says.
"I tend to use the human body the exposure of it and its nudity, so I use the natural skin colour as the bright paint with which I will paint on the black canvas of the theatre. I love optical illusions and ridiculous tricks, and therefore I dress my performers often with dark clothes or whatever part of the body they expose."
In Papaioannou's work, the body seems to be floating in space as in the tradition of black theatre.
"In this way, we can connect different parts of their bodies and can create hybrids of animals and oneiric or nightmares forms," says Papaioannou.
Seeing the world as a painter
Hailing from Athens, Papaioannou studied under renowned Greek painter Yannis Tsarouchis for three years in his teenage years.
"My teacher Yannis Tsarouchis once told me that once we learn to see the world as painters, that never goes away," he says. "Tsarouchis told me that it is very difficult to explain to the non-painters how painters observe things."
Papaioannou believes that this way of perceiving and decoding the reflections of light on material gives rise to a different understanding of colour, texture, and shape.
"When you learn to look at things like a painter, you learn also to look at things non-psychologically, and this alters completely the way you perceive the world," he says. "You embark on a journey of understanding and visual associations’ frenzy that is very difficult to explain it to the people that don't look at the work this way."
Most of all Papaioannou says he draws his creative inspiration from his daily life, particularly the trials and difficulties we all encounter.
"I draw inspiration from my struggle to understand life. I do live, even though I work a lot. I do experience the fear and have all these unanswered questions that we all have. I do have the urge to enjoy my life and about the meaning of it. So, from all these struggles to experience life, I take the inspiration and part of my personal struggle is to create things. This is my personal methodology of going through life and trying to understand life."
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