The people of world theater to meet in Athens next month

Every two years, theater people have the chance to meet to exchange views about the art of expression in different corners of the world. UNESCO’s International Theater Institute (ITI) has many members and this year it is Greece’s turn to play host to the 200 conference participants (delegates and theater personalities) as the ITI’s 29th World Congress is due to take place shortly in Athens. Alongside this there will be a series of events including discussions, colloquia and the exchange of views as well as performances and exhibitions. The last time that something similar took place in Greece was in 1957. Considering that the ITI has 90 member states, then Greece’s turn will come again after 180 years (that is, if every country wants to take on the burden of its organization). The Hellenic Center of the International Theater Institute is in any case prepared for its task. The organization, that is, of a week of theater from October 14 to 20 which will be dedicated to the ancient Oedipus dramas. «There are two parts to the organization [of the World Congress]. One is purely administrative, and this is why so many UNESCO officials will be here. The other part is the series of events,» Christina Babou-Pagoureli, translator and director of the Hellenic Center, told Kathimerini. The title of this year’s organization is Thespis 2002 and will include events such as the World Festival of Theater Schools. This will start earlier, from October 12 to 16 at the Empros Theater. Participating will be drama schools from Peru, Canada, France, Yugoslavia, and even from China and Russia. Also among them will be the school of the State Theater of Northern Greece. «I was a member of the selection committee, and this was incredibly interesting,» said Babou-Pagoureli. «All these young students will present a working method on Sophocles’ ‘Antigone,’ where the viewer will be able to see how the subject matter is processed differently through the culture, character and teaching of each nation. Peru has only one drama school, the Lima. Their ‘Antigone’ seems to have come out of the Andes. Creon, for example, wears the mask of a condor.» For the colloquium on Oedipus, titled «Oedipus: Our Own Stranger,» which will take place on October 17 in the War Museum’s theater, figures such as Freddy Decreus, Miskaci Meschko and J. Michael Walto will gather around the same table. Leading this event will be Professor Chara Bakonikola-Georgopoulou, while a surprise is in store from the psychiatrist Andromache Skarpalezou, who will present Oedipus as Andreas Embiricos saw him. In the evening, Tassos Bantis will direct the theatrical version of Philip Goulding’s work «Strange Lands» at the Empros Theater, with 10 young Greek actors playing 35 roles in English. «This play has already won the first prize at the ITI’s International Playwright’s Forum Competition,» Babou-Pagoureli explains, noting that this is not the first time that plays by the same writer will be presented. Dance lovers should have no complaints either: The round-table discussion on “How Should We Approach Dance in the 21st Century,» to take place at the Caravel Hotel will deal with this art form’s concerns. Among the 30 Greeks who have been invited to take part are Dimitris Papaioannou and Constantinos Rigos. «Creating Theater in a Foreign Language,» is the subject of the symposium that will take place at the Caravel Hotel on October 19, on the new conditions in theatrical work. What does this mean? «It is clear that as time passes, it is becoming easier for artists to work abroad, especially directors. How and why this is the case and what the difficulties are are some of the subjects that will be posed by both Greeks and foreigners,» says Babou-Pagoureli. Among other events in this festival of theater – with participants from Peru, Ivory Coast, Canada, Nepal, Bangladesh and the USA – will be the Prasseina Aloga theater group’s production at the Proskenio Theater, the Lee Breuer Workshop’s presentation of «The Libation Bearers» at the Topos Allou Theater, the performance theater production of «Ariadne/Cithaeron,» and a stage design exhibition. There will also be a trip to Epidaurus. The Greek branch of the International Theater Institute is organizing the 29th World Congress with funding from the Ministry of Culture, and the support of the British Council, the War Museum, the National Center for the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Topos Allou Theater.