June 13, 2022

''The masks have fallen'' Photo-Episode B, pt.1

It was one of those spring days where nature itself seemed to conspire for your happiness. Rosalia woke up quite early that morning, she is one of those people who enjoy their routine and find relief in the eternal repetition of their movements. So she made her favorite drink, black tea with two spoons of honey and some milk, sat down at the small wooden table on her balcony and decided to wait for the first rays of the sun to appear. An internal dialogue had already flooded her mind,

“What are other people doing now in the microcosms of their apartments?... Are they really happy?... So close but yet so far from each other.”

The concept of duality and its possibilities fascinated her and she often used it as a toy in her inner quests. The caress of the sun on her face, its warm almost maternal touch, brought her back to reality, filling her with a feeling of unexpected joy. She decided to get ready and go to Mr. Nektarios' shop. Mr. Nektarios was a quirky and somewhat abrupt man in his seventies, who ran a small but beautiful flower shop near the city center. Most of the time you would find him listening to music from an old record player of his time, and when at some point, Rosalia asked him “Why a record player?”, he answered “Because flowers listen and feel.”. A special five-year relationship had developed between them from a few but essential short conversations. One could say that she admired him for the wisdom of the years gathered in his face, while he was secretly proud of the vitality of her youth and the countless choices that it gave. They were united from the very first day by the love they shared for the same flower, the sunflower - perhaps that was the reason why Rosalia was standing out to Mr. Nektarios - she was, after all, his most loyal client and his youngest friend. Rosalia had just arrived.

-Good morning Mr. Nektarios, I came to get two of the most beautiful sunflowers in town.

-Good morning my Rosalia, we have sun today in paradise. I was waiting for you.

While Mr. Nektarios was preparing the sunflowers, a poster with William Shakespeare's “Merchant of Venice” in red letters caught Rosalia's attention, today at 9pm for just one performance at the Royal Theater. Rosalia loved the theater, it made her feel calm and most of the time she would find the people on stage more charming, like those who step on the board to live more truly and see more clearly than the others. She took a photo of the poster. I will suggest to my friends that this is our night out today, she thought and immediately sent it to their group conversation. Mr. Nektarios, who had noticed her movement, giving her the flowers, asked:

-Do you know anything about the play?

-No, but I hope I'll learn something today.

-You should suggest it to your true friends, answered Mr. Nektarios with an enigmatic smile.

Rosalia, although momentarily surprised by this proposal of Mr. Nektarios, did not pay attention. She said goodbye to her favorite florist and returned home. After a while, the sound of the messages in the group chat confirmed the plans for the night. Theater it is.

The hours passed quickly. Rosalia was out of the Royal Theater early on and was looking forward to meeting her friends, who, however, seemed to be late. The minutes followed one another, Rosalia was still waiting and full of anxiety this time she looked at her watch, five to nine. She wondered what might have happened as the hands of the clock intensified her anxiety. She decided to send a message to the group chat as she could not stand outside the theater for long. The answer came almost immediately, six words placed in an imperative sentence, "we will be late, go inside". It was not the first time something like this had happened, but it was the first time Rosalia was disappointed. She walked towards the theater and immediately felt better. After all, they had told her that they would be late, not that they would not show up.

She always liked to explore the audience in the queues before entering the room. They are all so different, and if you really observe, you will understand who has come motivated by the desire to watch the play, and who just happened to be there by chance or by force. In this particular queue, what may have unconsciously comforted her was that some had come all alone. It was Rosalia's personal bet to do something on her own. She quickly found her place in the center of the room and settled into the velvety red chair. The theater was full and the only vacancies were those of her friends next to her.

The atmosphere of the theater is something so uniquely special, almost eerie as she used to say, as if the real world with its consent gives its place and us, as its ephemeral loans, to another, and allows it to live, to be revealed to us, to affect us and sometimes even change us.

“If there was magic, then it would definitely happen in the theater and if I did not study psychology then I would definitely love to be an actress”, Rosalia thought.

The first bell rang warning of the start of the show, but it did not seem to move anyone. A young man was talking softly to the person next to him, a few rows away, a baby was lying half asleep on the shoulder of a beautiful woman with unusually long red hair, and a man in a black suit was crossing the aisle as if leading an invisible war procession. You saw people, who had nothing to do with each other, coexisting and that was exactly what excited Rosalia and gave her a sense of balance, that this strange and so tragically unmatched image of people was simultaneously beautiful. The accidental beauty, as she used to say, that surpassed the pre-planned and the perfectly placed and in the end, gained victory over it. And somehow, she felt redemption or maybe some kind of vindication, because the flaw was the secret of beauty.

The second bell rang again causing her sadness, as its sound pierced her like a spear, reminding her that she was alone. The feeling of abandonment and rejection followed the curious and philosophical. Rosalia was afraid that the scandalous act of her friends would be revealed. She was deceived, she was ashamed, she felt weak and wronged. The lights of the room slowly dimmed and a saving darkness that functioned as her cloak, flooded the space reflecting her inner loneliness.

Ding, ding, ding, three loud deafening strikes, a third bell, the show begins or so she thought, if the atmosphere had not changed so dramatically and the condition in which she found herself did not seem to be brought from elsewhere. Half the audience to her left had turned towards her, their eyes felt hot, the intensity of their eyes was as if countless grains of sand were raised by some ether, beating every bit of her body mercilessly. Frozen, eerie, expressionless and speechless, she felt judged. The horror of stripping Rosalia of her vulnerability made her panic. To her right, the rest of the audience pointed at her, laughing hysterically. It was a mocking laugh, a laugh of disgust. The notion of time had been demolished, the real had disappeared and the strange was taking the place of the normal.

Confused as she was, Rosalia was trying to find the meaning and to explain the scene, when everything was silent. Actors, wearing animal-shaped masks and white dresses, emerged behind the black curtains of the stage. The spectacle was reminiscent of an ancient Greek tragedy or some kind of pagan ceremony, with them holding flutes and as other divine beings lined up along the stage in a pyramidal formation. The first of the pyramid exclaimed:

-There is no better proof of friendship than accepting with joy and delight to take your friend's place in the worst of circumstances, but again, this act does not explain what friendship is. We all use it, but we only understand it through experience. Eventually its essence is lost, distorted and deducted due to its numerous and varied definitions. Nevertheless, it remains the crown jewel of the most refined human bonds. Rosalia do you have real friends?

This question froze Rosalia. The lyricism of the situation continued with the rest of the actors pouring into the room dancing around her, singing to her and inviting her to participate in the celebration of insanity. At that moment, her life reached its maximum dramatic potential. The lyrics of the song were aggressive, but their style was almost pleasing:

Daughter of the sun

Blessed Virgin Rose

You once received the child of friendship in your young years

With your eyes fixed on the flautist Zephyrus, snatch your heart from the immortal fire and the icy wind

Come on, oh sadness

Come on, oh truth

Camp on the girl's soul

You, Orphic Nymph redeem yourself

This is your revelation

The actors immediately afterwards, with slow and sure steps, headed to the stage and before getting lost in the interior of the theater, they freed their faces from the masks, placing them in the center of the stage. The only noise that could be heard now were some confused, incomprehensible whispers coming from the masks.

Rosalia was faced with the weight of her choice. Feeling the same unexpected joy of waking up in the morning - where the content she was looking for exists - and the same strange sadness - where there’s grief that motivated her - she got up, walked decisively to the stage, approached the masks, touched the first mask and then a blinding glow pulled her inside…


Photography by the Photography Team of TEDxAUTH 2022 #PHOTOEPISODES

Stella Chamarousiou

I’m Stella, 23 years old and I study Psychology. If you ever meet me, fortunately or not, you’ll get that I’m a member of the Society CCA (cringe, creepy, awkward). If you ask my friends, the “wimpies” will tell you that I talk too much, that I’m a bit stubborn and that shame is an unknown word for me, but everyone will agree that I’m surrounded by a lovely madness. I will reveal that I love the sea, trips, night rides in the car, cinema, poetry, jazz music and food. Jellybeans, ice cream and lollipops make me happy. Acceptance and freedom are two of the most important virtues for me. I would be a witch in another life (or am I already?).

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Angie Stathaki

From the triptych "ballet, French and piano", she has conquered only the second, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to learn the other two! A lover of the Sun, of the Italian cuisine, and Van Gogh. You will often find her with headphones on, listening to her favorite list over and over again. Favorite moments? Good company, wine, laughter and board games!

Panagiota Katsaveli (she/her)

Born and raised in Kilkis, but her imagination has convinced her that she has lived in many countries around the world. Spends most of her free time watching TV shows, while adopting the personality and behavior of her favorite characters. The combination of perfectionism and laziness that characterize her will eventually be her destruction. Chocolate, wine, coffee and pizza is what she is made of.

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Samuel Pechlivanis-Olagoke

Born and raised in London, his life story has seen him move to Canada, Cyprus, and now Greece. Supposedly he studies medicine but most of his time is spent discovering the hidden gems thessaloniki has to offer, such as cool cafes or cheesecake bakeries, and reminiscing his childhood through finding the snacks he grew up with at the pantopoleio.

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