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A performance based on the finds from the Bronze Age settlement of “Koimisis”, on the small island of Therasia

Starting from a group of prehistoric loom-weights, “Clothes” is an interdisciplinary theatre/archaeology performance on vesture and its diachronic meanings. In the performance we explore clothes as a means of personal expression, an eloquent element of identity, a field of social encounter and a constant witness to every biography. Christening, school, wedding clothes, the military uniform, the suit, sleep wear, the thread, the fabric, sewing, clothes on the body, all these are intertwined and compose a highly musical performance.

The performance is based on archaeological finds connected with textiles and clothing, and specifically those that came to light at the archeological site of “Koimisis”, excavated since 2014 by the Ionian University, the University of Crete and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades at the islet of Therasia, across Santorini. This is a Bronze Age settlement, destroyed during a massive volcanic eruption. As part of the creation process, we visited Therasia, and conducted interviews with the archaeologists and members of the local community, worked at the excavation, documented the local ways of clothing, and then used this rich material to create a performance – that also records life on this unique and captivating small insular world.

The performance doesn’t attempt to represent a historical past, but it is a highly personal and direct narration in present time; a composition of fragmented archaeological information and local memories that explores the existential nature of clothes, using music as its main vehicle. The structure of the narration unfolds in five thematic cycles: the creation of clothes, clothes in everyday life, clothes of power, clothes of transcendence and ritual, the destruction of clothes/clothes and death. 

A sole performer on stage delivers the main part of the narration. His highly rhythmic speech and choreographed movement are mixed with the sound of the recorded voices of the inhabitants of Therasia, creating a stage piece that is based on the power and the musicality of spoken word. All the above are integrated in a synth pop soundscape that creates a highly rhythmic and upbeat world on stage – a world as fragmented and poetic as the archaeological material itself.

At times, the performer interrupts his action and meets on stage a “visitor”, a specialist in clothing (a seamstress, a cloth merchant, a fashion designer, etc.), different each time, who conveys his/her experience and insights into the world of vesture.

The performance was first presented in August 2020 at the archeological site of the “Lyceum of Aristotle” in the center of Athens, in collaboration with the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art and the Greek Ministry of Culture.

In Spring 2023, the performance was presented at three different spaces of the Benaki Museum in Athens – exploring its different environments and staging possibilities: the industrial space of Mentis–Antonopoulos (‘NEMA΄) Passementerie (together with Ethnologist and Social Anthropologist Virginia Matseli), the traditional costumes collection of the Museum of Greek Culture (together with its curator Xenia Politou), and the building of Pireos 138 (together with the archaeologist Iris Tzachili).

Concept, direction, performance: Efthimis Theou
Dramaturgy: Elektra Angelopoulou, Efthimis Theou
Music: Kamien Case
Costume design: Pavlos Thanopoulos
Choreography: Nikoleta Xenariou
Production: Georgina Chriskioti
Assistant director: Elektra Angelopoulou
Co-ordination (EMST): Anna Mikoniati
Sound: Vangelis Nannos
Photographs: Katerina Paraskeva
Video: Grigoris Panopoulos
First presented at the archeological site of the “Lyceum of Aristotle” in Athens, with the participation of the archaeologist Iris Tzachili
A production of the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, as part of the Ministry of Culture and Sports’ program All of Greece, One Culture. With the support of the Prehistoric Therasia Archaeological Project, conducted by the Ionian University, the University of Crete and the Ephorate of Antiquities of Cyclades. With the support of Vasistas theatre group and Argyro Chioti.