CULTURE

Kismet Teatro’s novel, award-winning shows for young and old alike

What is bread made of? Flour, salt and water, all complemented by yeast’s «miraculous» action. And how is it actually made? The clever process unfolds over the course of the night, with rising expectations in the oven, until the moment the bread is ready, warm, crusty, sweet-smelling and ready to bite into. How can this recipe, dating back to the beginning of time, be transformed into a theater production – and directed toward kids attending nursery school? When the idea falls into the hands of inspired artists, anything’s possible, and can be quite sensational indeed! This is true in the case of «Little Secrets,» the play brought to us by Xenia Kalogeropoulou – a pioneer of children’s theater in this country. The artist who made children’s theater respectable in Greece has invited an award-winning Italian theater company (known for its productions for both children and grown-ups) and with financial support from the Greek Ministry of Culture has succeeded: The Teatro Kismet is currently in Athens for a series of performances at the Porta and Ivi theaters. «In the fall of 2001, I was lucky enough to attend the competition for the annual Stregagatto Prize in Rome. A highly prestigious institution established 26 years ago, it has earned an international reputation as well. An international committee gives the award to one of the top six children’s theater productions. In 2001, all six performances were of considerable interest – not just in the children’s genre, but in the theatrical field as a whole. The one single performance which absolutely cast a spell on me – ultimately receiving the award – was addressed to children up to the age of four. It was ‘Little Secrets,’ a Teatro Kismet production. The following year, the same troupe won the prize again, this time for its version of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ I thought that it would be interesting, not to mention useful, for Greek audiences to experience these performances. Not just for the kids, but for anyone involved in children’s theater and in theater in general. I believe that it is very important to see how a performance addressed to kindergarten children is constructed, as well as witness how a popular fairy tale such as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ can be seen in a novel, theatrical light. The direction is quite daring, involving intense body movement as a means of interpretation,» said Kalogeropoulou. In Athens, the Teatro Kismet’s award-winning performances are taking place at the Theatro Porta, with the final performance of «Little Secrets» taking place today, while «Beauty and the Beast» shows begin at the Ivi Theater tomorrow. Charming «Little Secrets» is a half-hour show and is performed in English. Though not based on speech, it narrates the ancient ritual of bread-making through movement, song and poetic images. «Beauty and the Beast» is grounded in the same thought; based primarily on visual effects, it evolves around sounds, images, colors, movement, and even acrobatics. Theatro Porta, 59 Mesogeion Avenue, tel 210.771.3333. Ivi Theater, 27 Sarri, Psyrri, tel 210.321.5137.