CULTURE

Street performers set to take over Athens

Close your eyes and picture the following: acrobats, jugglers and all sorts of wandering performers, actors and artists turning up randomly in different areas of Athens. With autumn approaching and the hours of daylight lessening, a major theater celebration, namely the 1st International Street Theater Festival, is on its way with a mission – to dismiss any feeling of dullness in the capital. The event is scheduled to kick off on September 30 and will run to October 4. The complete program of events is expected to be announced imminently, yet the few facts that have been divulged so far indicate it will be a singular event. Fifty-seven Greek and foreign troupes are scheduled to present big and small street performances in downtown Athens, mostly centered around the Acropolis area. Complementing the festival are events featuring various forms of art, happenings, workshops, puppet theater, dance theater, shadow-puppet theater, music groups and visual arts shows, all to take place within public spaces. The streets of Athens are going to suddenly fill up with fairy-tale creatures. This is, after all, the power of theater when it intervenes – uninvited – in the ebb and flow of the city. «Street theater is life theater, entertainment and substantial communication, where the interaction with the public is based on a random quality,» notes director Nikos Hadjipapas, artistic director of Helix, the Greek street theater troupe behind the organization of the festival. The event is being organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture’s National Center for Theater and Dance, the City of Athens and the General Secretariat of Youth. The festival is competitive, with four awards (all including prize money) to be handed out by a committee comprised of artists and theater folk. Prizes will be awarded for «direction and overall concept» as well as for the best «proposal for a spectacle in an open space.» Furthermore, an award will be bestowed on a Greek ensemble which will include an invitation for the troupe to participate in a festival abroad, while another award will go to a troupe or single artist entitling them to participate in next year’s main festival. The festival is twofold: On the one hand it intends to showcase the talents of specifically selected groups, while, on the other, it also invites artists and troupes to participate freely. In both cases, the festival aims to transform various areas of the city into places of pluralistic artistic expression and communication. For more information on the upcoming festival, visit www.istfest.com