New festival director aims to build bridges with foreign centers

A number of directors of large international festivals will be arriving in Athens over the next few months at the invitation of the new administration of the Hellenic Festival to discuss the possibility of regular collaborations with Greek festivals. One of the main goals of the Hellenic Festival’s new director, Giorgos Loukos, is to build bridges of systematic cooperation with important centers abroad, and he even announced the early results of his initiative at a press conference last month, such as collaborations with the festival of Schaubuhne of Berlin, the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris and the Barbican in London, among others. More recently, the Hellenic Festival announced that the following festival directors are expected in Greece: Vincent Baudrier from Avignon, Nigel Redden from New York’s Lincoln Center and Alistair Spalding from Sadler’s Wells in London. They had previously been invited by Loukos to join the Hellenic Festival’s board of directors in order to facilitate such international collaborations. Other deals include an exchange of productions of Carlo Goldoni plays with the Venice Biennale, with one Greek production showing there and an Italian one in Greece, while a similar deal is currently being negotiated for a three-year period and also with the possibility of exchanging directors, with the Schaubuhne festival and its director Thomas Ostermeyer. As far as the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus is concerned, where the number of productions this summer has been limited to six, Kathimerini asked Loukos whether it was a good idea to include in those six two productions (those directed by Michail Marmarinos and Theodoros Terzopoulos) which have a contemporary or experimental character, seeing as Epidaurus is not known for staging such plays. Furthermore, this choice of performances seems to be at odds with what Loukos had said earlier about the number of tickets sold at Epidaurus. He had said that 1,800-2,000 tickets are too few for the venue, but one must wonder whether a different type of show will turn the tide. «It would be a good idea to allow new people to do new things, such as Marmarinos and Terzopoulos, in a theater where we have been seeing, for the most part, conventional performances for several decades now, especially when they are working in collaboration with foreign groups, such as these two director. Even if Marmarinos or Terzopoulos were to fail, it would bother me less than having yet another conventional performance. I would rather sell 1,800 tickets for an interesting, original play by a contemporary director working with a foreign group than sell 1,800 tickets for the 25th time that a theater with a monopolistic relationship with Epidaurus will present yet another one of its conventional performances. That sort of thing is undemocratic, to say the least.»

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