Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Stegosaurus Dramaturgy: Elpida Stathatou @ Edfringe 2017

Stegosaurus – new drama at the Fringe
In search of hope – a struggle with anorexia
The world of Stegosaurus is one of exposed bones, black coffee, cigarettes and self-loathing. Yet there is hope.

It’s somewhere familiar to millions struggling with anorexia, bulimia and depression in a society where women are bombarded with images and expectations about their body shapes and sexuality.

Stegosaurus, by Greek playwright Ersi Niaoti, reveals the emotional and physical damage that eating disorders cause and the impact of depression. But it’s also about the resilience of the human spirit and the complexities of negotiating modern life. 

Stegosaurus has wide appeal, mixing compelling drama with humour and insights into society and the strength that the enduring love of family can provide. 

Listings details
Theatre (drama, contemporary)
Venue: C Venues – C Royale (Venue 6)
Dates: August 2-19
Time: 14:45
Duration: 60 minutes
Guidance: 12+ (some explicit language)
Tickets: £6.50 to £10.50
Box office: 0845 2601234
Group: ES Productions

What was the inspiration for this performance?

From the moment I read the script last year, I fell immediately in love. 
It brought so many memories of seeing girls around me struggling to be as skinny as possible for several years. 
Girls struggling to fit in a world with specific sizes and images.  The way the story captures that was extremely truthful and hugely inspiring  

The inspiration to keep working further, had to do a lot with the relationship I built with the writer while working together.. She is a strong woman who isn’t afraid to come out and share her life experiences. Working with her made me feel its my duty to share this story as well. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Of course it is and it should be. 

Personally I see theatre as a place in which we analyse and discuss everything thats going on in human society, ideas, trends, behaviours. It’s a very direct approach to combine enjoyment with critical thinking.

I personally believe though that some ideas may get presented repeatedly while some others not so much. Specifically eating disorders and depression might be, in my opinion, a bit underrepresented and should be discussed a bit more in theatre. 

How did you become interested in making performance? 

I always wanted to tell stories.  To make people feel. I believe being honest and vulnerable through storytelling is one of the best human experiences an artist can have. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

The whole play is a real story, it’s  the writer’s biography so my only approach was to be as truthful and honest as possible, I made an external research about eating disorders and spent several hours every day with the writer asking her about her experience with eating disorders.  I went really in depth to understand her. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes it does. I always try to choose material that involve strong emotions and truthful experiences. 
I am really blessed and lucky to have worked on stories I really wanted to say. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will see the world from the perspective of a human being that doesn’t fit in the world. 
I also hope that they will experience the thoughts behind the process of eating disorders and of course the feelings someone with a mental health issue is struggling with. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

My goal is to be honest and to remain as close to the real story as possible. If you create things form your heart, people will feel things in their hearts. This is my strategy. To be simplistic but complete as well.

My director has done some amazing work helping me deliver this. 

Making her Edinburgh Festival Fringe stage debut Greek actress Elpida Stathatou lends the one-woman show’s unnamed character a sense of true poignancy.

She says: “When I read the script I immediately thought that this is a play that matters, something I want to do, a story I want to share. We meet a woman who swears she will do anything to make herself better, but the eating disorders are like an addiction and she is soon dragged back into a spiral of self-destruction. Despite this, there is hope.”   
Praised in The Stage as a “mordant monologue” and by Reviews Hub for “effectively portraying the delusion and pain inherent in the character” Stegosaurus opens a window on the thoughts and feelings of a divorced woman of 30 whose most profound relationship appears to be with food. 
Her sexual encounters are bleak and the normalities of human existence are diminished. For most of the time her illness eclipses all prospect of everyday contentedness. 
Stegosaurus gives the lie to Hollywood images where bulimia is easy and without consequences. Here is a woman who lurches from semi-starvation to binging, who puts herself through pain but feels a false comfort from “cleansed”. 
Amidst the chaos the audience glimpses something else, the compassionate love of the woman’s parents and the possibility that it is even more tenacious than the eating disorders. Whether it brings redemption, or merely respite, remains intentionally unclear – just one of many questions the audience is left to ponder.

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