New voices of Greek theater

A new Greek play was recently inaugurated at Nikos Diamandis’s Simeio Theater: «Salvation Army» by Antonis and Constantinos Koufalis, two brothers from Kavala who first appeared on the national theater scene two years ago when they were both awarded with the State Playwriting Prize. What do you do when you are not writing? I, Antonis, am a lawyer and Constantinos is a chemist. We are Kavala born and bred, but over the past few years we have been living about 30 kilometers away on a mountain in Zarkadia. We live together. In the same house – two independent flats, but a shared kitchen and living room – shared problems and pets… We have time to think there, to read and write… How did you start writing? We had both been bitten by the bug early on. At some point, when the director of the Regional Municipal Theater of Kavala, Stamatis Kraounakis, was here – it must have been 1997 or ’98 – Constantinos showed him something he had been writing and Kraounakis encouraged us to keep it up. We had already done a couple of the things for the specific theater group – I did an adaptation of «Free and Besieged» and Constantinos did a lovely piece based on the short stories of Alexandros Papadiamandis, «The Poor and Saintly.» That’s how it all started more or less… And it went all the way to the state awards? Yes. At one point, Constantinos took the plunge and handed two pieces in to the Ministry of Culture’s playwriting competition. They were «The House of Gifts» and «Don’t Dig About in the Sand.» When the envelopes holding the names of the winners were torn open in December 2001, it turned out two brothers had won! Did «House of Gifts» make it to the stage directly afterward? Yes. Three days after the awards were announced we got a call from Nikos Diamandis at the Simeio Theater, which is now staging our new play, who asked us if he could put on «The House of Gifts.» You see, Diamandis was on the jury [of the state awards] and had already read the play. Was it successful? It was a lucky play. Diamandis had done some very good work on it, and it was actually nominated for the Karolos Koun Award in the Best New Greek Play category. Then it traveled to Kavala, in a co-production with the local municipal regional theater, and it is scheduled to go on in Thessaloniki in February at the Vafopouleio – always by the Simeio. The Simeio is also staging your new play. Nikos asked us to write a play and we wrote «Salvation Army.» It tells the story of a woman who had everything, experienced everything and lost everything, because of a huge natural disaster: a tidal wave. She lived in Halkida and an enormous tidal wave from the Evripos swept her away and dropped her onto the mountains of Macedonia, somewhere between Kavala and Drama. What does she do there? She’s homeless, a scavenger, and lives with her army, composed of stray dogs and cats. That’s her life. She relates it without complaining, without whining about it. Her narrative is basically a monologue, a delirium. The lead is played by Ioanna Makri, but who do the male actors, Avgoustinos Remoundos and Tassos Pyrgieris, play? Diamandis had the idea of connecting the woman to the legend of Oedipus. In his performance of the play he included two characters whose fate is intrinsically linked that of Oedipus. It is very interesting to see how these elements are connected. Diamandis’s direction really supports the play well, but I cannot disclose how.