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AUDIENCE REVIEW: 'The Great Tamer' by Dimitris Papaioannou
November 15th 2019
On November 15th, I had the opportunity to attend the highly anticipated show, “The Great Tamer”, at BAM. “The Great Tamer” was conceived and directed by Dimitris Papaioannou and the music presented was Richard Strauss’s Blue Danube waltz.
This hour and forty-minute work was presented as a commentary on the existence of man. Papaioannou used multiple quirky motifs to portray this message of existence. Coming into the theater not having any expectations, I walked away speechless, not knowing where to begin in dissecting this piece of performance art.
There was no intermission and no true division of the piece and; therefore, I must discuss it as one body of work and focus on the different motifs that stood out to me. The first motif that stood out to me was the very first one. A man starts out on stage as the audience fills in to take their seats. Once the house lights go down, the man proceeds to take his clothes off and puts them upstage left on a stool. He then proceeds to center center where he pulls a panel out from the constantly transforming stage and flips it to the white side to lay down on it. Another man appears upstage left with a thin, white sheet. He places this sheet onto the man laying down naked center center. After doing so, a third man appears downstage left and approaches the now covered naked man on center center. He takes another panel and props it up to let it go. The air from this panel blows the white sheet of the naked man’s body, revealing him. These three artists do so multiple times with varying speeds. This motif represents the idea of covering up and revealing the truth by using the naked body as a statement of truth.
The second motif is much more self-explanatory. The man with the panel who reveals the laying naked man on center center on the previous motif finds a pair of shoes downstage center. He puts these shoes on to reveal that there are roots coming out of the soles. He struggles to unroot himself until he flung himself into a handstand to exit stage left. This represents the root of man. The roots being a symbol of stability and life that the artist pulls out of the stage.
The third motif I found interesting was when an artist appeared in an astronaut suit. He walked very slowly to center center as if he were walking against the gravity of the moon. The artist takes his time walking while a track of heavy breathing is played in the background. I had interpreted this as man’s first step.
Although I was thoroughly confused the majority of the time watching this work, it was one of the best performances I have ever seen once I took the time to digest what I had seen. It was interesting to see European influenced performance art in America in such an exaggerated way.