The Paragon Files, written and performed by Adam Hatzimanolis. Sidetrack Performance Group in The Oneira Festival at National Gallery of Australia, July 24, 2004.
With a kind of self-deprecating humour, Hatzimanolis integrates the pathos of his personal second-generation Greek migrant story and the Australian mythical sense of maturity achieved through brave failure into a tragi-comic Homeric journey. This sounds complex, but his presentation of his upbringing behind the scenes in a Wollongong fish and chip shop - The Paragon, of course - never flags.
The wonderful irony is that the woeful semi-fictional attempts he makes to become an actor are performed by the real Hatzimanolis with consummate skill. His writing, too, is not merely witty but contains layers of meaning which can be enjoyed at the surface but then will stir up cultural references which inevitably demand to be discussed after the show.
His rebuilt EJ Holden finally blows up; he burns down, accidentally, the fish and chip shop; the doctor tells him he has a wog in his throat; Uncle Stavros dies but, at the age of seven, he switches the TV on to watch a horror movie rather than view the body; and Nicole Kidman passes him by "eyes wide shut" on the film set when he at last gets an acting job as an extra. There are many more iconic moments which English- and Greek-speaking audiences can all appreciate.
The Paragon Files is a perfect vehicle for this festival - Oneira or The Evolution of Dreams - which is produced by Vasiliki Nihas as an Australian reflection of the Olympic Cultural Festival in Greece. Dreams change from one generation to the next, and they don't only have to be about winning at sport.
Oneira began with a Taverna Night at the Hellenic Club in early July, followed by Sydney's Maria Yiakoulis and her musical maestros, and a range of other events. Yet to come is Websong, a ceremonial performance by Canberra's A Chorus of Women (August 7-8), a guided tour of the Classics Museum at ANU (August 4) and of St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (August 8), a talk on Greek literature (August 6), the Greek Oz Writers Festival (August 7), and much more.
Go to www.oneira.net.au for details.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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