Thessaloniki: The place to be for a bit of late spring theater

Thessaloniki’s theatrical revival continues into late spring as the State Theater of Northern Greece wraps up an impressive run of 15 productions (some of which were co-produced) with four plays running until the end of the month. The 2001-2002 season has been especially busy for Thessaloniki’s theatergoers who had the opportunity to enjoy impressive productions such as Constantinos Rigos’s dance show «Memory of the Swan,» Damianos Constantinidis’s revival of «The Odyssey: The Book of the Dead,» Iakovos Kambanellis’s bittersweet «Ulysses Come Home,» Grigoris Xenopoulos’s social comedy set to modern times «Stella Violante,» Edward Bond’s controversial «Saved,» and, for kids, the classic tale of «Puss-in-Boots.» The State Theater of Northern Greece’s second run, which began earlier this month, started with a local play, «Aging Successfully» by Giorgos Skabardonis, and continued the month with the insightful 1928 Russian play, «Flight» by Mikhail Bulgakov and «My Sweet Irma,» a 1956 play by Marguerite Monnot and Alexandre Breffort. As the month and the season both draw to a close, the successful theater company has organized a big finish with «House of the Sleeping Beauties,» «Refugees in Greece,» «Medea Material» and «Kolpert.» The first play, which is currently on stage at the Socrates Karytinos Stage of the Lazariston Monastery is being presented by the Theatro tou Notou company in cooperation with the State Theater of Northern Greece after a successful run at the Amore Theater in Athens. Based on the original novel by Japan’s Yasunari Kawabata, director Yiannis Houvardas has taken a modern approach to the text’s analysis of the relationship between eroticism and death to show the interplay between a group of aging men and the young women who fulfill their desires – or not – in an exclusive club/brothel. In the city center’s Macedonian Studies Center, the State Theater of Northern Greece turns to the 1923-1926 influx of refugees to Greece from the Caucasus in a romantic drama, «Refugees in Greece» (1926) that uses both the Pontic Greek dialect and modern Greek. Director Ermis Mouratidis placed great emphasis on the play making use of original music – by Odysseas Dimitriadis and Thodoros Kanonidis – to show how these people, after fleeing Soviet rule either for religious or political reasons, often encountered a very different motherland in Greece than that they had envisioned, heard or dreamt about. A special treat will be on show at the Vassiliko Theater this Friday and Saturday as the internationally acclaimed Russian stage director Anatoly Vasiliev makes a brief, two-day stop to stage Heiner Mueller’s «Medea Material.» Starring French actress Valerie Devrille in the title role (the play will be performed in French and accompanied by a detailed summary in Greek), Vasiliev’s adaptation of Mueller’s original play reinterprets the persona of the tragic heroine from that of antiquity by applying her characteristics to a modern woman fraught with primordial desires. The spring theater season thus draws to a close on May 31 at the Small Theater of the Lazariston Monastery with a little bit of black comedy. «Kolpert,» written by Germany’s David Gieselmann and directed by Vicky Georgiadou, has all the right ingredients: a mischievous couple invite another couple to dinner and convince them that they have killed the ladies’ boss, Kolpert, and hidden his body in a chest in the living room. Are they just teasing their guests or are they in earnest? Vassiliko Theater, tel 0310.251.182; Macedonian Studies Center, tel 0310.223.785; Lazariston Monastery, tel 0310.652.020.