A double premiere for Kivotos

A new play by Thanassis Papathanassiou and Michalis Reppas titled Crossing the Evros River opens tonight in a double premiere that also marks the opening of a new theater – the Kivotos (Ark), at 115 Pireos Street. The press conference on Wednesday began an hour late, but included a tour of the modern facilities, the brilliant foyer, spacious stage and comfortable seats. Everyone was there – the authors of the play (in the bookstores already, published by Kastaniotis), director Nikos Mastorakis and the five stars: Rania Economidou, Yiannis Karadzoyiannis, Ierocles Michailidis, Foteini Baxevani and Taxiarchis Hanos. A hairdresser, an unemployed clerk, a former boutique owner, a part-time taxi driver and a Kurdish illegal immigrant – five people on the fringe of a European Greece, struggling to survive. Secrets, confessions, deceit and eventually, a crime. The heroes have chosen their own personal hell and they follow it through right to the end, said Mastorakis, who referred to the conflicts, antitheses and reversals of fate, the suspense, as well as the economy of the text which, he added, did not give the director any leeway for tricks. It’s the first time we’ve written a play that was wholly a comedy. Its main focus is racism in Greece today, said Reppas, more voluble than his co-writer. Reppas patiently answered the many questions and comments on the controversial theme. I think that a good play, just like a good film, is a diving suit that lets us go down into ourselves. Life is difficult to explain and the role of artists is to draw attention to things rather than to explain them, said Reppas. Briefly, the film is about an outbreak of anthrax in a large block of flats housing mostly Kurdish asylum-seekers. The main characters are a man and his young daughter who fled Iraq after their village was attacked by biological weapons, and a young social worker who befriends them. The young girl suddenly develops a rough cough and her father, haunted by images of the past and fearful of the authorities, hesitantly takes her to the hospital. The story of the three main characters serves to focus on the development of the epidemic as more and more patients – all living at the Sighthill Estate – are rushed in with the same symptoms, victims of one madman who has repeatedly e-mailed the police and threatened other attacks if all non-whites are not deported from Glasgow within a specific period of time. Only the social worker and a friendly nurse suspect a malicious plan at work as the authorities in charge try to save face and the public peace of mind by downplaying the ever-increasing incidents.

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