Aris Biniaris talks to Lara Johnson-Wheeler
Lara Johnson-Wheeler: How has your perspective of the Bacchae developed during rehearsals of the play?
Aris Biniaris: During rehearsals of the play, my perspective of the Bacchae developed in an amazing way. We worked with the musicians, the dramaturgist, the choreographer and the set designer in a pre-production period before the rehearsals begin. When I began working with the actors, we already had a raw version of the musical composition, a raw version of the dramaturgy of the play, a raw version of the body movement and the set design. So the actors improvised with this material. I asked them to improvise within these musical and physical structures. This process reformed the first material and led us to the final score.
LJW: How does the set affect the interactions between the cast?
AB: The set affects the interactions between the cast in a ceremonial way. We use the space, the rhythm of the movement and the light sources as narrative tools.
LJW: How has the Greek political scene influenced your work?
AB: I’m trying as artist to be active at a time when Greek society seems to stuck in a rut and unable to move on. I chosen a play that deals with how we, as a society, choose to align ourselves with a life-bearing force that is never going to retire and not to determine our ultimate demise because of our avowed and continued defiance.
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LJW: How have you found today, on set with Nick Knight?
AB: It was an extraordinary experience. The dynamic flow existing in the space. I really enjoyed the interaction between the actors and Nick.
LJW: What was it like for you to watch the actors working with Nick in that way? You must have become used to directing them by now. How was it to see them under a different sort of direction?
AB: I saw other options. They were acting in their roles but because of the limit of the picture they were improvising in a very different way to the way that they would improvise in the theatre. It was like a continuous circle of being inside the role all the time, without changing. That was very interesting for me. Nick interacted with them and directed them in another way than we’re used to in the theatre. It was magic. The magical thing was they were in their roles but they knew they had to be photographed. It was very interesting.
LJW: You’ve never seen them in that way before, posing rather than acting?
AB: No, it was the first time because normally they have to keep everything inside this very structured precise form. There are limits.
LJW: How do you feel Nick’s imagery had interpreted what you’re doing with the play?
AB: I think he really got the dynamic of our play, I saw that in the pictures. The movement. It’s a still picture but when I saw the results it was moving, in motion. Exploding, I found, it was exploding. It was an explosion of the bodies.
LJW: As we’ve discussed at some length today, the idea of transformation is so key to the play you’re putting on. I’m interested in how you saw your actors transform in the fashion they are in today?
AB: It was very helpful for them. I think they used the fashion to release them and free them.
LJW: I spoke to Kary, and she explained her reaction to the moment when Nick asked her to hold the body of the deer – she was holding it open for the image. She said it was helpful to have done that for her character and the idea her character does this physically.
AB: Yes, I can imagine it is very helpful for the performance for the actor to work with a real object. All these elements are a help our performance. I really enjoyed it today.
LJW: In speaking to the actors, we discussed how they are responding to the music in the play; the rhythm, the sound and the beat and the way you put it together. You were playing music today at the shoot. Was the music as important for you on the shoot as it is in the play?
AB: The music was very important today because it gives specific parts. After this, the most important thing was how Nick used the rhythm, he led the rhythm with their relationship with the actors and music. The inner rhythm was led by Nick. The way he related with actors had an obvious musicality.
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