On 2nd October started the competition program of ISTF Danail Chirpansky with the performance of Iliad. The second year students from the class of Penko Gospodinov of NAFTA stepped on the small auditorium stage twice – once at 3pm and again at 6pm. Can you even imagine how these young people immersed in their roles twice in a row?
Iliad – start of the ISTF Danail Chirpansky competition
What impressed me was how they stood and yet the portrayal of their characters was full of energy. Their actions were limited, their arms were relaxed. But their eyes were burning. The well-known lyrics of Iliad were flowing from their lips – as a raging fire with the angry words between Achilles and Agamemnon or as a calm tide with Andromache’s gentle pleas to Hector.
The theater and especially the small auditoriums love details and colors as a lot could be said or shown with just a ray of light. There was a blue ray on stage showing the course of a still river full with small white pebbles. All the girls took a pebble in their hands and whenever a hero of any army lost his life in a battle, a pebble from someone’s hand fell down. After words of doom the silence in the auditorium was like an abyss after a fallen rock.
The costumes were monochrome, boys with white shirts made of dreams for fame and victories, while girls were wearing black dresses soaked with sorrowful tears of Trojan and Achaean women. The actors led us to the battlefield with heavy rhythmic steps under the melody of thumps and shouts. There were men who were going to war, men who were telling stories about the war, men who were the war. The girls’ ghostly whispers were echoing and the stage was filled with silent chanting.
My heart was beating to the rhythm of the speech which was mirroring the faster and slower temps of the poem’s action. My breathing was following the voices when they were growing louder and then quieter again.
The students’ performance was brilliant and I was deeply moved. The actors took me to the army’s ranks and I cried with mothers and wives for every death and for every time a pebble hit the floor. A lot of pebbles and a lot of dead bodies.
And the earth ran red with blood.
The students from Penko Gospodinov’s class are only in their second year of theater school and mark my words, we should be expecting many more surprises from them.