REVIEW: The Great Tamer

As I approached the Power Center, I was surprised that its glass windows were not completely tinted black after all. As the color of the sky darkened well past the setting of the sun, I could see the golden glow of the inside of the auditorium’s atrium from the outside, my destination. I rushed inside to escape the cold and to arrive at what would become the entire experience of The Great Tamer, from the very beginning to the very end.

The Great Tamer drew people of all ages and from numerous backgrounds; some you could tell were university students who chose to live their Saturday nights in a unique way, some were elder folk who were likely experienced attendees of artistic productions like this one. In essence, this production attracted the appropriate crowd as it consisted of artistic elements, universal morals, and common humor that would appeal to the different sides of many people.

The production began before everyone was seated. Even after calmly rushing up the concrete stairs to the balcony and being one of the first people in the auditorium to take their seat, I noticed that there was already a man lying on stage with his shoes off next to him, presumably dead. As people continued to enter, he stood up, put on his shoes, and stood facing the crowd, expressionless yet observant. When the production began, his character came to life in an intricate storyline.

The entire performance consisted of humans using simple props, strong body language without direct gestures, color and the lack thereof in their clothing and in the setting, and panels that made up the stage floor to communicate various vignettes in what seemed to be a metaphorical way. It was probably not entirely correct of me to think of every action that occurred as a metaphor, but I felt that it was easiest to understand the purpose of a specific scene as an analogy to what occurs in real life, such as death and grasping onto life, letting go of a loved one, being overthrown by one’s own kind, the equity or lack thereof between man and woman.

The ten performers were masters of sleight of hand and melodramatic theatre; I would follow the movement of one particular character in a scene and suddenly witness him or her consistently pull an item out of the air that they couldn’t possibly have carried behind them or in their shadow. They carried a sporadic and vibrant essence throughout the performance, using the black floor panels to disappear and reappear in an instant, to portray the absence of a physical object in space, and to reconstruct different settings.

The final scene resonated with me the most; after some commotion, one man remained. He had a square of gold and silver foil, tossed it in the air, and kept it suspended by constantly blowing air up from beneath it. The stage was dimming, you could see him moving impossibly to keep the foil floating, and as the stage darkened completely, he gave one final breath and it was over. In this moment, I was stunned by the caliber of the performance I had just witnessed and almost felt that there would be no way to explain or justify it in the words I would write for this post. Even so, I am ecstatic that I was able to give even a glimpse of this performance to the public with this post and hope that Dimitris Papaioannou will continue to touch the psyche of many with performances like this.

PREVIEW: The Great Tamer

In the spring of 2017, Dimitris Papaioannou and his ten performers premiered their first display of the breathtaking visual production, The Great Tamer, at the Onassis Cultural Centre in Athens, Greece. Since then, this production has travelled to a multitude of countries in Central Europe and Asia, leaving its viewers in tremendous awe and feeling gravely inspired to exhaust our lives and to give everything we can before leaving this world.

The production encompasses the human condition, revealing the small tragedies and great absurdities of our modern lives through classic theatrical conventions. Papaioannou has chosen to use unique techniques to manipulate simple props, ultimately creating illusions that engage with the material and the metaphysical of life on our current world.

With Ann Arbor, Michigan being one of only two locations that this production is being performed at in the United States, I am anticipating this event highly. I am excited to feel the tragedy and the frivolity that other reviews have promised and to feel enlightened by an orchestrated presentation of the universal emotions common among all of us.