Thursday, March 15, 2007

Nixon in China, Putin in Athens

Between rehearsals I've been doing another application to the Columbia Foundation, who funded Dis-Orientations: I hope they'll also come on board for Re-Orientations and the Trilogy. It's a complicated application, not least because it needs printing on recycled paper (thoroughly commendable, but try finding it in a distinctly un-green city like Athens, where you have no command of the language), and I don't have a printer with this laptop. Fabulous Fred Frumberg to the rescue: my co-director seems to be running the whole of Cambodian dance from his apartment, and has a full office in there.

So, today it was finally finished and ready for dispatch, and I trundled down to the Post Office in Sindagma Square, which also happens to be where the Parliament building is. I manage to time my arrival to coincide with that of Vladimir Putin. The Russian President is here for a Nixon-Mao style summit with Costas Karamanlis, signing the deal on the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project; and the home of democracy has decided to greet him with a serious display of what it does best. There was a huge demonstration - presumably about the human rights record of the Russian Federation, though I couldn't read the placards or understand the chanting. There were also armed police EVERYWHERE - full riot gear, shields, helmets, gas masks, machine guns, tear gas canisters. Outside the Parliament they stood ranged across the street, their vans behind them like a road-block, while the front rank of protesters yelled in their faces. Then, with total surrealism, three National guards with fezs on their heads and pom-poms on their shoes, performed what can only be described as a poncey goose-step along the adjoining pavement.

I keep saying this place invented democracy and theatre at the same time. It also followed its tragedies with satyr plays.

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