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2003 - Saloni M swims East


Titiana Varkopoulos

Titiana Varkopoulos is a community theatre worker and playwright. She has worked with young people from diverse cultural backgrounds on theatre projects at local government in Melbourne and at Footscray Community Arts Center - for Y3P and SCRAYP. She has co-directed and co-written Such is Life for Y3P, co-written Letters of Freedom for SCRAYP, directed and co-wrote Terra Nullius at the Courthouse Youth Arts Centre in Geelong and worked as a writing/script facilitator for the project Week with Platform Youth Theatre.

Titiana has also written We Danced with our Shadows (1997 - The Organ Factory), She Who Changes (1998 - Melbourne Fringe), and Ella the Ethereal (2000). She has been a recipient of a playwriting mentorship from YPAA in 2000. In 2002 she was awarded an Arts and Skills Development Grant from the Community Cultural Development Board of the Australia Council for the Arts. She most recently performed the piece Daughter of the Boatmen for the I.D. Club at The Carnivale Festival in Sydney.

For the Saloni M swims East event on Friday, December 5, she was going to present the following, but due to circumstances beyond her control, she was not able to:

The Bride Wore a Veil of Woven Lace, a spoken word performance.



The Bride Wore a Veil of Woven Lace
[a performance piece]

A traditional Greek wedding song is chanted by a chorus as the bride in her gown and veil enters.

Simera gamos, simera giamos ginete
Simera gamos, simera giamos ginete…

The bride speaks:
I wear my bridal veil
My veil of woven lace
Hand crafted and stitched
Sown in the tradition of thirty days
Prepared for the day I am to wed
And the coming life I am to lead.

The chanting and music fade up, and then chorus continues:
Man and woman
To be married
With all the town to witness it.

But what comes next is unexpected
Strange men barge in
Men with beards and swords

The bride:
I sense an omen in the air…

They take me away.

I can hear the wails of the women
Is that my mother?
Or my grandmother?
Is it my sister?
The townsmen
My father, my brother, my husband
Are gathering with weapons to come for me…

But it’s too late.

The chorus:
Her blood nourishes the earth
And the land thrives on the blood and bones
Of its people.

What was once valleys of barren soil
Mountainous views and glistening blue waters
White houses perched on the hills
All that remains
Is the slaughter and bloodshed
This is a custom of hate that fills the world.

The bride:
My name is Barkopoulou
Kwrh thV barkaV
I am the daughter of the boatmen
In Greek-Turkish dialect it was Kaitzoglou
It changed to Barkopoulou when my family fled to Greece
My grandfather/ by boat/ as a child/ as a refugee/
His father and sister were beheaded

The bride, as part of an ancient ritual, stains her white skin and dress with blood.

The chorus:
A story
One of many
Of migration and refuge
In other lands as refugees

The bride:
My name means ‘of the boat’
I am a daughter of the boatmen
Remember my name
Because I am no more.

The chorus:
In each lineage
A child is born
A child that can change destiny
A child forged on the fire
A fire of baptism
Of initiation
Of a woman born
Out of the mythology of her people
Of mythos and logos
The story and the word
But who tells the story?
The man and the sword
All empires
East and west
Share a history of bloodshed

And that is the repetition

Who then are the true barbarians?
Ask yourself
The Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Israelis, the Portugese, the Spanish, the English, the Americans, the Australians and so on and so on and so on….
All are guilty of this sin
And sin it is

The song is raised once more:
Simera gamos, simera gamos
Then ginete…

The bride is now smeared and stained with the blood of her life.

© Titiana Varkopoulos 2003.

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