Alkisti Pitsaki has devised “audio theatre”, Αριάδνη/Ariadne, as part of her MA in Theatre and Direction for the Victorian College of Arts (VCA). The 24-year-old has been through the maze of Greek Diaspora experience. The Greek/American, born and raised in Athens, graduated with honours in Theatre Arts from The American College of Greece, in Athens, then moved to Australia to pursue a Masters in Theatre Directing.
Unlike the luckless Ariadne, Alkisti did not fall in love with a hot albeit manipulative Theseus. Nor has she helped anyone kill her half-brother Minotaur only to be dumped after.
Theseus, Ariadne’s lover kills the Minotaur, by using Ariadne’s ball of red thread to navigate out of the Cretan tyrant Minos’ labyrinth, the Minotaur’s lair. Her mum Pasiphae had sex with the white bull sent to Minos by Poseidon for sacrifice, and thus the rather unfortunate lovechild. Theseus himself is born of incest, his father is the king of Athens, Aegeus.
“There are many versions of this myth from all over Greece, Cyprus, and Italy – Ariadne dies, in others, she marries Dionysus, and in some, Theseus abandons her because he is afraid of Dionysus.
READ MORE: Minotaur: Nature vs Nurture
“Ariadne follows Theseus but seems trapped and wants a way out from the physical and mental labyrinth,” says Alkisti.
Alkisti says that like her mother Pasiphae, Ariadne pays the price for her “husband’s wrongdoings and takes the blame for many things that are not her fault.”
The Greek American sought to imagine Ariadne’s voice, thoughts, and feelings when drafting this play and believes “we forgot to listen to her story.”
“We portrayed her like a feather in the wind and never cared about what she had to say,” Alkisti adds.
Aegeus, Theseus’ father, is loathed by Minos the tyrannical ruler of Crete, for sending his son Androgeus to his death by challenging him to conquer the Marathonian Bull. The tyrant of Crete makes the Athenians pay an annual duty of seven male virgins, and seven female virgins to satisfy the Minotaur’s hunger.
Alkisti sees the number seven as significant, “Seven women and seven men were sacrificed every seven” and there were “seven loops of the Cretan labyrinth.”
“The white bull that Ariadne’s mother also tricks women like Ariadne”.
Alkisti talks about the “dual nature of the Minotaur: half human and half bull” and the question is whether we “consider him human or animal and treat him as a symbol of power, hatred, shame, or pity.”
“The myth is filled with ethical implications revolving around murder, who has the right to kill, the rationale for murder, and of course, freedom.”
Ariadne, for Alkisti has been portrayed as “someone fooled and as someone abandoned” but to her “she is an architect, intelligent, caring, brave, and hungry for knowledge.”
And like many other women after her, Ariadne is remembered for all the wrong reasons – she’s misrepresented.
Radio plays are old yet impactful, particularly at a time of lockdowns in a global pandemic.
Audio theatre as Alkisti calls it, “has survived from the early 1920s” and it enabled her team to “collaborate with artists from across the place in fresh ways.”
“Radio dramas are immersive, audiences can listen any way they wish to, they can lie on a couch and listen with their eyes closed.”
Alkisti’s work weaves sounds to tell a story, “Dialogue, language, song, sounds of nature, and music.”
“You can picture Crete, the sea, the fields, Ariadne, the Minotaur, and the never-ending loops of the labyrinth.”
Like Euripides, Alikisti Pitsaki constructs theatre as a reflection of the polis and a conversation with the demos. She says it “is impossible to create art that is not affected by the conditions of your time.”
In the aftermath of the Greek Financial Crisis performers, playwrights, actors and visual artists, devised work that reflected the impact of the crisis, often calling on social action.
“In Greece, many performances arose that reflected the country’s social, political, and economic climate.”
Alikisti Pitsaki is not “didactic”, nor does she provide “solutions, or advice.” He work she says, “are conversations with friends, family, and the audience.”
Αριάδνη/Ariadne premieres 8 October, 8:00 pm and is available until 11 October. Free – event registration: https://bit.ly/3a9AJxR