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The fan man

or how to dress an elephant

The Fan Man or How to Dress an Elephant

En dynamei Theatre Ensemble, Créarc - Rencontres du Jeune Théâtre Européen 2018, Athens Festival 2015, Municipality Theatre of Kalamaria 2014 (premiere), Tour in theaters of Athens and Northern Greece 2014-2015.

The Fan Man or How to Dress an Elephant is the first part of En Dynamei Theatre Ensemble's Trilogy, The Normal "Other".

Weird – Special

Outsider – Deviant


Inabilities - “Special” Abilities

Retarded – Different

Maladjusted – Educable




Unacceptable – Unique



By Savvas Patsalidis, Professor of theatre history and theory in the School of English, the Hellenic Open University and the Drama School of the State Theatre of Northern Greece, lecturer in the Graduate Programme of the Theatre Department (Aristotle University), author.

  • Ailing bodies: a study on being different. Sometimes, I am not able to review a good performance after it has run its course for practical reasons, yet for those that have remained alive in my memory, I feel an obligation to write a few words, as the slightest token of recognition for what they have achieved.I am referring, of course, to the performance of “The man-fan or How to dress an elephant”, by the group “En dynamei”, which was produced by the actress Eleni Dimopoulou. The performance at the theatre “Melina Mercouri” in Kalamaria was directed by a talented young woman, Eleni Efthymiou. In it star 21 young people, some of them people with disabilities. The general intention of the group was to teach people to accept difference as something completely normal, which is exactly what Brecht wishes to achieve when he uses the defamiliarization/distancing effect: to make the audience perceive the familiar within the unfamiliar and the unfamiliar within the familiar.The direction. Efthymiou’s choices doubled the risk she took from the start. On the one hand, she relied on non-professional actors, a practice that may be quite widespread nowadays but can easily have a boomerang effect, resulting in an ill-perceived amateurism. On the other hand, she relied on people with special needs, which can also backfire, meaning that it doesn’t take long until the ailing body leads the viewer to such an emotional state, where any form of critique disappears, only to be replaced by the enduring tradition on the already charged, unconventional character of the play. In this case, the theatrical event runs the risk of becoming an “pretext” for the event itself so the following question immediately arises: to what extend can reality penetrate the play without contradicting it as a contrived event? Well, Efthymiou was willing to take that risk and, judging by the result, she managed to convince us that she knew what she wanted, let alone how to achieve it. It was obvious that she did not want us to perceive the drama through the different nature of these people. Therefore, she unfolded the incidents related to their lives without following a chronological order, so as to free them from the constraints and deceptions of a cause and effect relationship, and communicate them within a broader context, thus accentuating the deeply humanistic significance of the attempt. And she was successful, as she made sure that all her fellow-workers would go on stage without feeling inferior. No apologies, no whining, no pity. She asked them to stand in front of us, having come to terms with who they are and perform as if nothing was wrong. This is exactly what they did and were wonderful at it. Through an equal mix of brechtian theatre, mimetic theatre and documentary techniques, they got rid of the stratification that society (hypocritically) imposes on their wounds for being different and brought to light their innermost anxieties. They talked about who they are with such an authentic, unadorned mood that managed to lend a stunning ethereal lightness to the performance that proved quite refreshing, just like the “man-fan”, who lets all those who “sit next to him cool off in the summer”. This was a theatrical study that did not exhaust its topic on the surface of the particular ailment but plunged deeper into the core of the universal human condition, thus making the audience experience deep emotion, pleasure and intense introspection, all at the same time. Conclusion: I am still fascinated.  

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By Marina Kontou  

  • When you pretend you don’t see it. “…” A theatrical performance in Thessaloniki, for people, like the man-fan, who repel others with their aesthetic and acoustic noise and only attract some opportunists, victims of heatstroke, who crave their coolness; and for elephants that some people insist on dressing with weird costumes. A performance that hones the blunt words of etiquette and brings all those stories of the invisible other, the different, in the spotlight. “…”   

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By Thoule Missiroglou

  • The marvel of an authentic contact.“…” Even though the performance is based on a series of everyday, “special” stories on being different, disability and the people who relate to it – thus making it prone to melodramatic catchwords -, it is fully integrated in an artistic context. The direction is outstanding, the dramatic language is exceptional and humane (being the result of the experiences shared by the members themselves), the actors, new and novice alike, are amazing: they constantly make you sway among the emotions of a reality, where the simplest thing can become complex, repeated, funny, tragic or even unintelligible, and where the most complex, shocking incident can become mundane. “…”

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By Mih. G. Bakogiannis, Lecturer at the Department of Philology of A.U.T.H.

  • The man-fan. “…” What I witnessed was soul-stirring. A group of kids, with the natural talent of the youth spirit and a thirst for expression in every move. I felt like I was taken by the hand by one of them and all of them at once, effortlessly, away from my reality. I felt like I was a witness of their own lives, a confidant of what makes them special but not different and I was asked to share the sincerity of their emotions and the authenticity of voice; that’s how I felt. I did not just watch the performance, I experienced it. Thank you.

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By Katerina Tzioridou

  • We were deeply moved by the performance of The fan-man or How to dress an elephant.“…” The artistic result of this attempt is distinguished by an exceptional aesthetic that is placed within the context of a theatrical, eventually autobiographical performance of people with or without a disability. Above all, we wish to point out the feelings that were triggered inside us. The performance moved us with an energy that soared among our eyes, our ears and our heart. “…”

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By Victor Arditis, Director – Academic

  • How theatre can become a direct act of life. For several days now, I have been thinking that the performance of The man-fan or How to dress an elephant was one of the most interesting shows I have seen in the theatre lately. One of the smartest and most poignant. People with mental deficiency and special abilities together on stage, in perfect harmony, exchange and communication with volunteers from the dynamic organization “En Dynamei”. A kaleidoscopic, “musical” composition of incidents that bring to light the hardships of life, as well as a practically scandalous joy for life. The success attributed to Eleni Efthymiou lies in the fact that she took a “problem” and turned it into a sort of theatre that is unexpected, modern and lively, highly enjoyable and not at all didactic. A performance with music, dancing, singing, projections and often ironic language. As long as the group is able, they must perform it again and again.


Selected reviews-comments:


By Sophia Eftyhiadou, theatrologist

  • A few minutes ago, I stepped out of the auditorium of the Municipal Theatre of Kalamaria, after having one of the most significant experiences of my life. The performance of “The man-fan or How to dress an elephant” by the group “En Dynamei”, directed by Eleni Efthymiou, possibly the most talented director of the new generation, is a stunning artistic event, a landmark in Greek theatre. The performance ought to participate in important festivals abroad, it deserves it! Congratulations to everyone and to Eleni Dimopoulou in particular, the life and soul of the production. It seems that the heart of drama is transmitting from Thessaloniki in2014.


By Maria Patsidou-Iliadou, Counselor of special education

  • The notion of otherness managed to move even the cruelest aspects of human nature and taught us a lesson that even the best existing schools could not teach as well as this! It was the best kind of lesson, one that should not be missed by anyone! My heartiest congratulations go to everyone involved, as well as my wish that you continue your innovative work with the same vigorousness!


By Giannis Ergeletzis, Colibri, branding & design

  • A performance where the applause in the finale lasted five minutes and you kept making noise clapping your hands together, even when they hurt. And all because of the whirlwind of emotions that you experienced in your heart and for the fact that when you walked out of the auditorium, you were a different person. Magic. Yes, people are sometimes magic.


By Lia Michaelidis

  • Magnificent! You walk in as a wildling and walk out as a human being.


By Eleni Giannousi, actress, director

  • It was a mere affirmation towards Art, great Art, life itself, that is. A smile towards Man. For the man who is different, for his virtues and vices, for the pain and the humour, even for his own loneliness. A simple “yes” to human kindness that has been misunderstood, to laughter and tears, to the effortless effort. However, the group “En Dynamei” did not stop at the easy part. The exceptional direction, as well as the final dramatic composition did not let the viewers struggle on their own with their emotions, not for a single moment. Their thoughts were constantly disturbed – their mind, like a sponge, was stubbornly trying to take in what was happening, whatever truth they could handle. Because the play was full of truths, and we all know that the truth hurts.


By Elias Papadopoulos, actor

  • That was a truly remarkable performance. From now on, it will undoubtedly become the benchmark against which all the upcoming performances will be measured for me.

“The fan man or how to dress an elephant”-The plote


This is a series of everyday, “unique” stories on being different, disability and the people who relate to it. It is the result of the cooperation within a mixed group called “En Dynamei”, which consists of young people with potential abilities, people of the same age, parents and friends. The group “En Dynamei” has been active since 2008. The intention of its artistic pursuits is to incorporate the concept of “different” into the artistic universe.

Through the use of poems, songs, images and documentary features, the play articulates the idea of being different and brings forward people who relate to it. The various snapshots that compose the narration of the play are all inspired by the real experiences of the people who reenact them. 
In their effort to complete the play, the members of the group were united through the common denominator of creating a novel language to communicate from scratch. A language that can urge the audience to distance themselves from their prejudices and stereotypes, to reflect on the common ground between them and the “other” and forget about the things that differentiate them for a while.

The successful cooperation between the members with potential abilities and their peers is indicative of the great power a team can exhibit in order to overcome any obstacles and thoroughly integrate all the different aspects of human nature.

Director’s note

“Normal” is undoubtedly a hopeless word. It is a word that must be defined by the norm. Then follows the objective reality – what is not “normal”, must be “different”, the “other”. Yet, who gave the “other” a negative connotation? And why?

The play “The fan-man or How to dress an elephant”, helps communicate stories that relate to disability. Through these stories, there is an intention to embrace the deviant, in order to render it familiar and intimate. On stage, the stories are narrated by “children” and assume the form of child play. Originally, this may have sprung from people’s insistence on referring to people with disabilities as “children”. In the course of the play, however, this approach reveals the potential of the children’s spontaneous nature, as well as their sometimes cruel disposition, to bring to light hidden secrets, to tell the whole truth, the truth as it really is.


Artistic Director: Eleni Dimopoulou

Text: Eleni Efthymiou with En dynamei Theatre Endemble

Director-Music composer: Eleni Efthymiou
Set and Costume designer: Elissavet Antapassi
Lighting: Richard Anthony
Video: Dimitris Zahos
Assistant director: Eleni Dimopoulou
Communications: BrainCo
Photos: Dionysis Metaxas & Light 16

Cast: Kleio Antonopoulou, Vasso Assikoglou, Maria Dahlythra, Eleftheria Drakoulidou, Margarita Kaenada, Dimitris Kalaganis, Kimon Kalaganis, Anna Kalintseva, Anastasia Kariofylli, Evangelina Kariofylli, Maria Koltsida, Vangelis Kosmidis, Yiota Kouintzoglou, Nikos Kyparissis, Parmenion Kyriakoulis, Efterpi Kosta, Loxandra Loukas, Dimitris Mexis, Angeliki Mousiou, Thanos Nanasis, Mihalis Ntolopoulos.

In the play there are excerpts from the work of: Xavier Durringer, Nikiforos Vrettakos, Tellos Filis, J. M. Coetzee

The play premiered in the Municipal Theatre of Kalamaria “Melina Mercouri”, participating in a series of events that celebrate Thessaloniki as the European Youth Capital 2014 and the festival “Theatrical Premieres” in the Municipality of Kalamaria. 

It has also been performed in Micahel Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens and in theatre "Avlaia" of Thessaloniki.

In 2015 it was presented at Athens Festival 2015.

view more:–-eleni-efthymiou-2015





scenes from the performance




promo video-extended version




promo video-short version




Athens promo video

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