A director’s cause: theater for the people

He was one of the first to offer passionate support for open-air theaters around Athens. «I thought it would be healthier for theater, music and dance to give more space to their roots with a flower pot that was bigger than that of Kolonaki, a flower pot that was at least the size of greater Athens, to see if the little tree grows and bears better fruit,» the late Minos Volanakis, a stage director and translator, said back in 1981 during the construction of the Vrachon Theater in Vyronas on the site of an old Athenian stone quarry. The new venue helped to bring the greater public into contact with the art of drama in a previously neglected part of the city. The initiative was repeated in other humble parts of the city, such as in Petroupolis and Nikaia. This summer’s 20th Vyronas Festival will honor Volanakis with a photo and video exhibition to open on September 4. Titled «Minos Volanakis: The Light of the Rocks [Vrachon],» it will be held in the foyers of the venue’s two theaters, the larger Melina Mercouri and the Anna Synodinou. The tribute show will include footage and shots of Volanakis at open-air venues during various stages of his fruitful career. They include past stagings of Aristophanes in collaboration with Anna Synodinou, very early efforts as a director of ancient drama, behind-the-scene shots, personal moments and Volanakis’s first visit to the old quarry that would eventually become the Vrachon Theater. The exhibition intends to «portray the personality of an artist who worked using knowledge, thought and instinct,» its organizers noted. The show has been curated by stage designer Costas Velinopoulos, who has installed four large constructions that look like walls of rock. About 40 photographs, the majority of them black and white, adorn both sides. Commenting on Volanakis and the man’s legacy, the Vyronas Festival’s artistic director, Tassia Sarridou, noted: «It’s the least we could do to express our gratitude to a man who turned vision into reality, ideas into progress and challenges into culture.»