So far, we’ve already established what drama games are and I have presented some of the exercises and performances I’ve done with my group yet in this post I’d like to speak about a conversation I had with my drama games mentor Aphrodite Parzakoni, Director, Drama Teacher & Drama Games Encourager. During that conversation, she explained how she was introduced to theatre games, what they are to her now, what drama games can do for a person and many more things which I find very interesting, thus I’d like to share them with you.
Aphrodite started her professional career with several jobs seemingly irelevant, with theatre games. From studying logistics at Saint George University and jumping from one art school to another, until she finally settled in the department of pre-school education. Then, as if by magic, she discovered drama games in a 4 day seminar where she attended a lecture by a “man with an incredible aura”, professor Lakis Kouretzis, the man who invented the Theatre/Drama Games experiential method or else “Playing through Theatre” and introduced it in Greece.
That was the time when mesmerized by Lakis Kouretzis’ lecture she decided that she definitely needed to come in touch with that person. With the encouragement of her mother she started studying theatre games however she did not uncover the magic of that first lecture, until her final year of studies.
Her ultimate commitment to drama games was established through an act she performed during the Holy days of Easter in 1995 when she revealed her passion on stage in the company of a “green ribbon”, one that binds her, body and soul to the theatre games to this very day.
But what are drama games for her really?
Each idea by itself is very big and powerful, but sometimes when it comes to people’s hands is what Kavafis talked about in his poem “As much as you can“, – Try as much as you can not to degrade your life by too much contact with the world because one day you’ll feel that it has become a boring hanger-on. – In that way, when an idea comes to people’s hands is becoming somewhat degenerate and degraded. With a hint of sadness, Aphrodite revealed that she feels that nowadays something as big and passionate to her-and to me- as theatre/drama games, has been commercialized to the extent that it has become something degraded, something degenerate, something that people demand to be tailored to their needs thus not fully allowing drama games to affect the way they observe their inner and outer world. Paraphrasing her own words, just like someone merely wearing a red nose is not a clown, similarly painting on a white sheet or playing with a cloak on stage is not theatre games. For her and for me it is something personal. It is a fully organized method with its own philosophy, personal growth techniques that takes time, knowledge and effort!
After telling me this, I couldn’t help but ask her to tell me a little bit about what’s her role in all this.
In a serene voice, streaming out of her lips as gently as water, echoing maturity and passion in a combination that fascinated me from the very first day, she explained that her role as an Encourager is to create the appropriate atmosphere, a “theatre of multiple compressions” for the group participants to act as purely as they used to play as children. Nevertheless, Aphrodite stressed out the importance of team spirit, as a paramount element of successful theatre games for although the act can exist without an Encourager, it cannot even be fathomed without a team…
Not all teams stay together forever though. New members come and old members go,
but for Aphrodite each departure has been a grieving process, “a small death” as she herself described it. Yet she knows that when a circle closes another one opens, much like in the case of passion each death is followed by a rebirth. Each person that joins in breathes new life into the team and refigures the shape of the group itself.
All those new arrivals, entering Aphrodite’s world, bring along with them so many experiences, so many colors that their blend leaves us with nothing other than white. For many years now, white has been the color of our drama/theatre games workshops. White is the color of our garments and the great white sale where we lay our bare feet and perform our act.
But why just one color?
The creative process of becoming a member of a group and surpassing the limits of our egos requires us not as a unit but as a whole. White, as a color, allows us to become seemingly the same as the person standing next to us, without however losing our uniqueness, but on the contrary, discovering ourselves and our position in the group.
The cultural significance of the color white is also very important for Aphrodite. White symbolizes purity, and the drama games workshop process requires members to be pure, original, authentic and available for new experiences. In other words, we must accept the traces of others that came before us and those that we interact with during the workshops, so that those fragments are imprinted and reprinted on our “white canvas”.
After all everything can be drawn on a white sale. Colors, shapes, objects, gestures, motions, emotions…who knows, maybe even a green ribbon…