Himmelweg – Athens Festival 2019
Formerly a dramaturg for the National Theatre of Greece (2008-2013) and a director of two widely acclaimed performances (Roland Schimmelpfennig’s The Woman Before at the Poria Theatre in 2015 and Adam Seidel’s Catch the Butler at the Ilisia Volanakis Theatre in 2016), Elena Karakouli presents Himmelweg by the award-winning contemporary Spanish dramatist Juan Mayorga. The extremely timely play draws on a true WWII incident.
At a concentration camp for Jewish people near Prague, a show of appearances is on display. Berlin’s Nazi government chooses certain prisoners and forces them to fabricate an image of decent living conditions in order to appease the public opinion. Red Cross representatives, alarmed by the rumours about the conditions at the camp, pay a visit to Terezín, a ghetto (doubling as a camp) where everything seems to be ‘normal.’ Upon their return from the camp, they are to testify on the board and healthcare provided to the prisoners.
Himmelweg, however, is far more than a mere re-enactment of historic facts. The Holocaust remains a powerful memory; however, what is even more powerful are the allusions to contemporary reality. We are interested in the process of fabricating lies; conceiving a plan for deceiving others; the perfection of this mechanism; the ease or predilection of humanity to succumb to what is seemingly normal. How and why do we turn a blind eye on things? What forms and shapes do rebellion and submission take? Above all, what are people’s dreams and nightmares, both of those in power and of their respective victims?
Translated by Maria Chatziemmanouil
Directed by Elena Karakouli
Original music – Music design: Violet Louise
Concept – Art direction: Eva Nathena
Set and costume design: Evelina Darzenta
Movement direction: Phaedra Soutou
Video artist: Angelos Papadopoulos
Lighting design: Nikos Vlassopoulos
Make-up artist: Katerina Michaloutsou
Foyer design and visuals: Alegia Papageorgiou
Cast: Nikos Psarras, Dimitris Papanikolaou, Thanasis Dimou, Ilias Andreou, Elli Papanikolaou, Melissanthi Regoukou