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Reaching Athens: Performing Participation and Community in Rimini Protokoll's Prometheus in Athens

Laera, Margherita (2011) Reaching Athens: Performing Participation and Community in Rimini Protokoll's Prometheus in Athens. Performance Research, 16 (4). pp. 46-51. ISSN 1352-8165. (doi:10.1080/13528165.2011.606049) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:44713)

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Drawing on Jean-Luc Nancy’s thesis that “myth’s force and foundation are essential to community and there can be, therefore, no community outside of myth”, this paper examines the author’s experience as a theatre spectator in the Greek capital. After her inbound flight was cancelled due to a strike called by Greek workers on 15 July 2010, reaching Athens seemed impossible. Nonetheless, she eventually attended Rimini Protokoll’s Prometheus in Athens, an adaptation starring non-professional Athenian performers. The project opened weeks after the height of the Greek financial crisis, at a time when the ‘European community’, along with its ‘democratic’ principles, were threatened with collapse.

With the economic, social and political contingencies resonating in the Roman amphitheatre and the fully-lit Parthenon shining opposite the stage, Prometheus in Athens engineered mechanisms for audience participation within a self-defining and self-affirming community ritual. Working with a chorus of 103 Athenians (including legal and illegal immigrants), Haug and Wetzel played with the notions of social identity, democracy and representation. Appearing onstage as a group, the performers drew parallels between everyday life and Greek mythology and involved the spectators in the performance of identity. Rimini Protokoll’s playful dramaturgy encouraged the emergence of a temporary community of identifications by using ‘classical’ Greek tragedy as a contemporary Western myth of ‘origin’.

Using Nancy’s essays ‘Myth Interrupted’ and ‘Of Being Singular Plural’, this paper explores the ideas of community, participation and (trans)national identity as produced by this performance. Rimini Protokoll’s production ironically imagined contemporary Athens as a continuation of the half-mythical, half-historical city where theatre and democracy were ‘invented’, and where participatory citizenship could, allegedly, be fully experienced. Having finally reached Athens, the author found that the city of ‘democratic participation’ was no longer there, that it was always already somewhere else. “Has anyone ever reached Athens?”, the paper asks.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/13528165.2011.606049
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Arts
Depositing User: Margherita Laera
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2016 15:25 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 10:17 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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