Friday, January 13, 2012


Literary Corner is a series on the blog by Civilians' Literary Associate EllaRose Chary that focuses on investigative theater projects going on around the city, the country, and the world. As the institute for investigative theater, The Civilians is excited to connect with other groups working in this genre. If you're doing an investigative theater project, feel free to keep us in the loop by emailing:

ALEXIS.  A GREEK TRAGEDY is a show by Italian theater company Motus, and is being co-presented by The Public Theater and La MaMa as part of the Under The Radar Festival. Billed as a piece of "documentary theater", ALEXIS is an interesting approach to investigative theater that mixes real events, interviews, and classical theatrical storytelling. In 2008, a 15 year old boy "became an icon of rebellion" after being killed by a police officer. The Motus production weaves stories and actual documentary film that they took while in Athens from the activist movement reacting to this event (and other elements of Greece's system) with some of the themes, characters, and plot points in Sophocle's classic Greek tragedy ANTIGONE, in an effort that ends up connecting past to present and fiction to reality. The result is an energetic piece of theater that explores the state of political unrest present in the modern world (as exemplified, in part, by the Occupy movement which has taken hold internationally).

What's cool about this piece in particular is not just that it's investigative, but also the way that the investigative elements interact with completely traditional modes of theater. On a spectrum that includes classical theater created thousands of years ago and contemporary theater based on events that are still in newspaper headlines, ANTIGONE and investigative theater would seem to be at opposite ends. However, Motus has found a way to blend these elements in a way that allows each to draw from and gain meaning from the other. Despite calling itself "documentary" and using filmic elements, this interaction actually allows ALEXIS to highlight what makes investigative theater distinct from other modes of journalistic storytelling like documentary film. The truth of the interpretation comes not only from filtering events through an artistic lens, but also from using the most classical model of theaterical storytelling.

Visit the Under The Radar Festival website to find out when you can catch ALEXIS. A GREEK TRAGEDY before it closes.

If you're interested in the Civilians' work related to the Occupy Movement, check out the livestream of tonight's sold out cabaret at Joe's Pub.

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