CULTURE

Veteran actor in new role at theater’s helm

“I am taking over the State Theater of Northern Greece (KTBE) with a feeling of huge responsibility. I feel as though I am embarking on a new role, which I must perform with accuracy, moderation and dedication in order to return the theater to society, to redefine the reasons for its existence.» With a clear view of the problems he will be facing and of the role a big theatrical institution must play, acclaimed veteran Greek actor Nikitas Tsakiroglou has returned to the theater organization with which he took his first steps as a fledgling actor, undertaking the post of artistic director. «I do not wish to relive the years of innocence and puberty. That time is past. But I do have the enthusiasm required of an artist and a clear idea of the concept of theater beyond its role as an institution. And this is the philosophy every person in the theater should have, from the usher to the artist,» he argues. Tsakiroglou has taken up his new post in order to take a second shot at re-establishing the KTBE with the standing it ought to have in the north of the country – and he has been hard at work since the first day of his appointment, June 4. Stealing time away from his commitments as an actor in the title role of «Philoctetes» – which is on tour until September 20 – he dedicates at least three days a week to his post. Rich repertory So far, Tsakiroglou has prepared the first season’s repertory for the theater’s four stages, he has met with the heads of all the unions involved in the theater, and outlined the framework of his management agenda. «A theater cannot function without the support of society, which, however, only gets a taste of the theater on a seasonal basis. Thessaloniki has a strong potential audience and the theater has an obligation to promote the region’s literature, music and art, and to pay tribute to the people who live by them and work in them.» Realizing that many managerial problems arise from the fact that actors work mostly on a part-time basis, Tsakiroglou has opted for a rich repertory. «The State Theater of Northern Greece… has an obligation to embrace all of its human resources and to tap to its full potential the nursery that is the School of Dramatic Arts. It is objectionable for a theater to have a cast of 100 actors and to put on plays using just seven of them.» Following the Culture Ministry’s recent commitment to raise the KTBE’s subsidies on a par with the Athens-based Greek National Theater, Tsakiroglou says that the organization will be able to expand its collaborations and co-productions and attract investors more easily. «I am prepared for a long battle to make the theater financially viable and I am sure that with the help of the State, it will be able to increase it revenues,» says Tsakiroglou. «This is why I am not planning to act or direct as long as there are problems. I am not taking the helm of the theater to satisfy a whim. I am here to see through an effort entrusted to me by [Prime Minister and Culture Minister] Costas Karamanlis.» Tsakiroglou is not disheartened by the experiences of his predecessors, who, no matter how much pressure they exerted for more state subsidies, rarely saw a change in status. «I will not rest. I will become a thorn in their sides. I am not here as a party member to fill in for the absence of government. I am an artist whose 40-year career has been recognized by the State. My post was not given to me so I could prolong the existing state of affairs, but so I could improve it and bring out the best of the theater company.» Dedication to the role With the KTBE firmly in mind, Tsakiroglou is also appearing at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus tonight and tomorrow, playing the title role in Sophocles’ «Philoctetes.» The production is directed by Yiannis Iordanidis, with sets designed by Angelos Angeli, costumes by Agni Doutsi, music by Giorgos Christianakis and lighting by Lefteris Pavlopoulos. The other main roles are played by Nikos Psaras, Giorgos Kentros, Petros Petrakis and Vassilis Risvas. Performances begin at 9 p.m. Tickets are available at the Hellenic Festival Box Office, 39 Panepistimiou, tel 210.322.1459.