Penelope: Dust in my Awakened Dreams; A reflection

The church bell tolls 7am, three pigeons launch from the stooped shoulders of street lamps and the rising sun turns from a vibrant orange to a pastel gold sweeping raked fingers out into a blue sky. Penelope, dust of our awakened dreams replays through my mind again, I haven’t slept all night.

Since the event at Valletta’s MITP theatre space, a couple of scenes have become branded into my thoughts; particular moments that sent a chill through my body. In retrospect I understand that i was being played, orchestrated, the clear communication of a troubled character named history and its relentless march into the present. Athens emblazoned in actions. Such characteristics in any performance are rare so one must note their presence.

Athanasia Kanellopoulou‘s performance also touched me in another more surprising way. As I watched her solo I found myself repeatedly entering myself, dipping into my own memories as it some dust had been stirred up causing me to face my own awakened dreams. Mario Sammut‘s synthetic musical composition also contributed to this intimate experience, returning me to the 1990’s to a nondescript period of my childhood. In these adolescent memories I revisited my own personal story of obsession and captivation, lost in computer games.

The theatrical juxtapositions to dance in this performance were usually based in the school of mime but this is superfluous information, Athansia’s technique, control and character comfortably habilitated this school of gestural movement. At other times the stage play take the guise of a satirical intervention, discordant moments in the character’s own dialogue that equally break the linear progression for the audience. The audience is at which point reminded of the characters, Penelope and Athanasia, bringing us back to the dancer, the widow, and the waiting.

I am not one for spoilers but the performance habitually ends in this way: Up rise the audience, clapping, leading an ensemble of whistles and calls of “Bravo!” I recall Athanasia’s words at the end of the evening, “I want to give people a feeling”. To grant such a gift to an audience has been her wish ever that gift was given to her by Pina Bausch so many years before.

From the audience that night came compliments and confessions, “the feeling in my heart is of powerful beating,” one passionate woman told Athanasia. Another audience member directly addresses the whole ensemble,  “your team is fabulous” they enthuse, “I hope that you continue to make work together”. Convincingly, the turn out was good and the audience certainly appeared entertained. Whilst people may continue to talk about Penelope: Dust of our awakened dreams, the fact is that there are only three more performances left of this event here in Malta. After the 11th March the performance may continue to travel into Europe, most likely to Athens where it will face a very different kind of audience. The future awaits.

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