The Greek Theater of Geneva has been actively promoting the Greek letters and culture in Switzerland for the past three decades. It is a dynamic institution that was founded by professional actor Giorgos Stangakis, who was a student of and later worked with the acclaimed Greek director Karolos Koun at the Technis Theater in Athens, but also at the Elefthero (Free) Theater and the State Theater of Northern Greece.
It was his idea to rally members of the Greek community in Switzerland from different professional backgrounds (scientists, doctors, bankers and students) and give them a chance to tread the boards as amateur actors. Their shows used to be in the Greek language only, but hypertitles were gradually added, as were parts in French and German from Swiss cast members.
The 2021-22 season was by far the company’s most productive and extroverted, thanks to the play “Ioannis Kapodistrias: Glory and Solitude,” written by Ioanna Berthoud-Papandropoulou. Dedicated to the life and work of the great statesman who formed such an intrinsic bond between Greece and Switzerland – as Russian ambassador to Switzerland, he helped secure the country’s independence and neutrality – it was the GTG’s contribution to celebrations marking the bicentennial of the 1821 Greek Revolution.
The play featured Greek and Swiss cast members who gave up their free time to rehearse their parts and hone their performances to touring standards. Their efforts were rewarded by the applause of the audience at the two shows they did in Lausanne and five in Geneva in 2021, as well as in Freiburg last February and again in Geneva on September 28. It was such a success that the dress rehearsal became a regular performance at the behest of the audience.
For the first time in its history, the GTG also toured in Greece, making three stops between September 30 and October 6 last year.
It performed at the Municipal Theater of Corfu, where Kapodistrias was born, at the Apollo in the western port city of Patra and at the theater of the Athens College school in the Greek capital.
“It was an absolutely amazing experience for all 25 members of the cast,” says Dimitris Dimitriadis, one of the company’s longest-running members.
“With professional discipline and skill, they were able to accomplish six shows in seven days, thanks to painstaking preparation and the invaluable support of the local authorities,” he added, indicating that more shows may take place in Greece this year.
The goal of the bilingual play, says Dimitriadis, “was to pay homage to Kapodistrias.”
“He was a doctor, a diplomat, a politician and an educator. He played an essential role in the neutrality of Switzerland, his ‘second home,’ but mainly in the rebirth of Greece, as its first governor in 1828,” he adds.
Geneva’s Eric Sturdza Bank was the main sponsor of the performances in Greece, with the support of the Bodossakis Foundation, Giorgos Koukis and Charles Pictet.