A tribute to Dimitris Kechaidis
Presentation of the playwright’s unfinished work Iloveyouallthetime
Reading and discussing the play are Eleni Chaviara and Lefteris Voyatzis
The play takes place in an Arcadian monastery high up on Mount Mainalon. We see a room in the guesthouse and a balcony with an endless view. Father has brought his children, Aris and Katerina, to be inspired by nature and write each a novel for a literary contest. Indeed, he had furnished them with powerful binoculars so that they can see all Arcadian villages and beyond, to Astros by the sea. In other words, he has provided the conditions for them to write masterpieces. For as Prassoulidis, the grand poet of Magnesia, said, “If they are talented, take them up a high mountain. That’s all it takes! The wind of art blows in the high mountains”. So he is trying to guide them suitably: “It’s worth waking up early, to see the sun rising behind Mainalon… Just for a little exultation before the beauty of nature… This is not a lesson in literature, now… Merely an exercise in sensibility…”. Aris is not excited by the prospect of dawn, nor is he unduly troubled about his novel. He prefers to sleep, is interested in food – “I heard something about rabbit for lunch”, he says. In fact, he wants to go back to Tripoli, cannot stand the mountain. He misses television, his stereo, and moreover this complete silence disturbs him. Does not let him sleep at night. It’s driving him crazy, he says. He waits for some dog to bark before he can fall asleep. “Fear not”, his father tells him, ”it’s only until you break the barrier and go from noise to silence… You need to break the barrier. That’s why you are having a hard time now. You are making the crossing. For noise is easy, but silence is tricky.
Katerina, by contrast, appreciates the beauty of nature and has got used to the silence. What really thrills her, however, is those large, deserted hotels she can see through her binoculars. It is spring, the tourist season has yet to start. The shuttered windows of the hotels are getting to her. She wants to write about their desolation. In one scene Father and Aris are sitting on the terrace, downing shots. Father advises his son to write about the fascination of trains and the various squares of Tripoli. At some point he confesses to his son that the other day he had met a woman in Astros and he cannot rest; he’s thinking about her all the time. He can barely stop himself from going back to Astros to see her again. A novice monk suddenly appears to announce that the poet Prassoulidis had called from Volos to say he was coming incognito for a serious reason. The reason is that Prassoulidis’s wife has run away with Skotiniotis, an Athenian writer. Artistically, Skotiniotis is of a greater caliber than the other two. He is known throughout the country, and he also has the reputation of an irresistible lover: “Not even his baldness stops him. A lover remains a lover, even when he’s gone bald”. He met Prassoulidis’s wife in Volos, where he went to give a lecture on Karyotakis. At the party after the event he saw her, liked her and asked her to a dance. Ten minutes later he had persuaded her to go with him on a lovers’ holiday. Since then, Prassoulidis had been looking for his wife all over Greece. And now someone told him that Skotiniotis had been seen in Arcadia.
So Prassoulidis arrives at the monastery and asks his old friend, the children’s Father, to help him find his wife and her lover. Father feels for his friend’s pain. He had lost his own wife in a similar way. She had eloped with a NATO officer to Canada. At some point, Katerina spots Skotiniotis and Prassoulidis’s wife through her binoculars; they are lying on the beach of Astros. Prassoulidis wants to go to Astros and kill him. He is determined to do it, because Skotiniotis took away his wife and ridiculed him to the literary circles of Magnesia. “Let’s go”, he says to his friend, “to Astros… to Astros!”. Father, however, tries to convince Prassoulidis that the greatest revenge would not be to kill Skotiniotis but destroy him as both lover and writer. Indeed, he happens to know that Skotiniotis is about to have an operation by a doctor who is an old friend of his. He promises to persuade the doctor to maim the patient during surgery and force him to stay forever in Athens, unable to go beyond Stadiou Street. “No, no, I am not talking about putting a ball bearing in his aorta. Just make him anxious about his health. Make him old… Make him unable to travel, have him walking up and down Stadiou St.; unable to garner any other impressions…. Unable to steal either people’s wives or the beauties of Greece and then use them in his works. He has already stolen the beauties of Magnesia, and now he’s here to steal those of Arcadia. No, sir, you can’t go on stealing beauties that rightfully belong to the local poets and writers. You stay in Athens, sir, and write about her ugliness. There’s no other way: Skotiniotis must be immobilized in Athens, and die there.” But there are doubts about the outcome. “He is a great writer, not easy to get rid of. If we let him live, he’ll limp his way along the shops of Stadiou St., one by one. He will go into their world and find a way to beat us once again. I mean, he’ll find the way to write another great
work”. Katerina, listening to all this, gets excited by the whole affair and above all by the erotic prowess of Skotiniotis, which she has been following with her binoculars, and decides to write a romantic novel. Even Prior Barnabas gives his consent, provided that the book extols the beauties of Arcadia. The plot is further complicated because as plans are made for the revenge, there is a hint that the woman whom Father had met and fallen for in Astros may be the wife of Prassoulidis. If that is so, what will happen once the truth comes out? From now on..