In the spring of 2013, Nikos Karathanos and his ensemble staged a production of the play ‘Golfo’, by S. Peresiadis, at the National Theatre. Its success surpassed all expectations. From the very first performance, the production made a reputation for itself, as word went round and waiting lists of hopeful audiences were endless.
The “Monologue of Love”, written by Lena Kitsopoulou and performed exquisitely by Lydia Photopoulou, was immediately uploaded onto Youtube and had thousands of views.
It was such a huge success, that Yorgos Loukos suggested the unprecedented transfer of a finished production to the theatre of Epidaurus. Besides, there was great motivation for it, as Golfo would be played in her original surroundings; outside, in the open air and not indoors in a theatre.
When the decision to present Golfo at the ancient theatre of Epidaurus was announced, I was there, at the press conference. Without a second thought, Nikos turned to me and said...why don’t you come and shoot the rehearsals at Epidaurus?...It is going to be great...”
That was how everything started. The following day, I made a proposal to Yorgos Loukos about a documentary film on the staging of Golfo. He loved the idea. The festival’s finances were dire and he told me that he could only cover my accommodation and the editor’s fee, in order for the film to premiere at the following Festival, in 2014.
In early August 2013, Apostolia and I set off, but not for Epidaurus; for Helmos.
We had already made our first trip to Kalavryta for preliminary discussions, over the documentary “Kalavryta - People and shadows”, but also for a filming that had come up. Therefore, we were in the vicinity and as we left Kalavryta, we decided to go to Helmos and film the territory of the illustrious Golfo. We climbed onto the highest peak of Helmos and filmed goats and sheep and visited “Golfo’s fountain”, as the sign clearly read.
It was the best way for us to immerse ourselves into the spirit of the play and the production, and at the same time capture some images, that would infuse authenticity to the opening scene of the film.
We left Helmos and drove straight to Epidaurus, where we began filming everything on two cameras. It was the first time Apostolia and I worked in unison, using two cameras either to shoot the same action or in different places, capturing concurrent situations (for instance, me following an actor on his way from the dressing room to the stage and Apostolia filming a group doing voice warmups or running-crew preparing the stage).
Simultaneous shooting proved to be very conducive to the end result.
In the morning, we would go to Old Epidaurus for a swim and around midday we began shooting until late at light.
Luckily, we had already made the portrait on Lydia Photopoulou for “Paraskinio”, where we had filmed the development of “Golfo”, at the National Theatre and so Nikos Karathanos and the performers had already warmed to us.
“Golfo at Epidaurus” is a film, I will always remember.
Not only for the picture itself, but also for everything Apostolia and I went through during those eight days of filming.
In addition, the awareness that every shot we filmed was in fact documenting a really great artistic moment, was thrilling.
In staging “Golfo”, Karathanos and the team’s creative madness had already in speaking deeply to the hearts of the audience. Placing that production in Epidaurus created a truly unique and unprecedented condition.
Epidaurus, whether one refers to the ancient theatre, the dressing rooms or the mountains engulfing it, has an atmosphere that evades easy description. It cannot be given a name. It certainly captivates the visitor in a unique way.
Since the original staging in Athens, the winter before, but even more so when it was set in its natural habitat, this production of “Golfo” had affected me deeply. There were many instances where I was filming while crying. (In the editing, we had to do away with many shots that were out of focus, because I could not see clearly...).
That production had achieved something words cannot explain. Evi Saoulidou, while speaking on camera, tried to pinpoint it like this: “It was as much, as...”. That was so elemental, but at the same time immensely difficult to achieve.
Judging from the audience’s as well as the actors’ response at the film’s premiere, at the Athens Festival, in June 2014, it was quite clear that the film had achieved its goal. And the feeling was the same at every screening that followed, either in festivals or on television.
On my part, I am very satisfied by the end result.
It seems that the film succeeded in capturing the spirit of the performance.
It was “as much, as”...