Stage director Yiannis Houvardas, founder of the innovative Amore Theater in Athens, has been appointed artistic director at the National Theater, the Culture Ministry announced yesterday. He succeeds the late Nikos Kourkoulos, who passed away late last month at the age of 72 after leading the National Theater for a decade. The new artistic director’s tenure will begin in June when his current obligations have been completed. The 57-year-old Houvardas, who founded the Amore Theater in 1991 with the objective of injecting freshness into the local drama circuit and pursuing international collaborations, had already begun developing a considerable track record over a decade earlier. «This new position is an exceptional honor for me. I am respectful of Nikos Kourkoulos and the work he accomplished at the National Theater,» Houvardas, currently abroad, noted in a statement. «The weight of responsibility is great and I will try to respond to it as best I can.» Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, responsible for the appointment, said his selection was based on Houvardas’s profile, which includes a proven administrative ability, international experience and, artistically, an impressive body of work. Houvardas has served as a board member at the National Theater and Greek State TV and Radio (ERT). Voulgarakis described the selection process for the job as «exceptionally difficult» because of the success of Kourkoulos, who left huge shoes to fill. The minister said Kourkoulos «played a catalytic role and offered potential and vision» to the theater. Houvardas emerged in 1977 as co-founder, director and actor at Theatriki Syntechnia, which performed at numerous festivals both in Greece and abroad. Around this time, Houvardas had already begun working with a number of state-run local and foreign theaters, staging over 30 productions, both ancient and contemporary. In more recent years, he has been particularly active directing projects abroad, mostly of opera.