New faces and ideas bring fresh, global programming

The main changes planned for the Athens Festival are: * The duration of the festival has been reduced from five to two months (June-July). * The number of events has been increased and the shows will be hosted at other sites besides the Herod Atticus, such as the old industrial complex at 260 Pireos Street (formerly Tsaousoglou) – where there is already a theater with a seating capacity for 600 people and an entertainment hall – the Lycabettus Theater, the Irene Pappas School, Benaki Museum, Athens Concert Hall and the Kotopouli, Technis (Frynichou) and Porta theaters. * Opening up new venues will make the events more accessible to a wider public, which Loukos hopes will come to see the interesting events in more familiar surroundings and at a cheaper rate. «We want to bring people to a better show, to put into practice what Antoine Vitez called ‘elitism for everyone,’» said the director. * Cultural education is also an aim. Through universities, conservatories, theater and other schools, it is hoped the young will attend and cultivate their relationship with various forms of culture. The issue on how to teach culture will be particularly explored by important training centers that have been invited, such as the Beijing Opera School this year and the famous Rajastan School of India, the New York Juilliard School and the Paris Opera in years to come. * One of the festival program’s main features is the array of good new performances in Greek theater, dance and music. Examples include productions by directors such as Vassilis Papavasileiou, Lefteris Voyiatzis, Lydia Koniordou, Nikos Mastorakis, Vyron Theodoropoulos, Nikos Hadzopoulos, Thomas Moschopoulos, Sotiris Hadzakis, Roula Pateraki, Dimitris Mavrikios, Theodoros Terzopoulos and veterans Michael Cacoyannis and Spyros Evangelatos. * The same is true of the foreign artists who will take part. This year emphasis has been placed on select theater and modern dance performances, as well as varied musical concerts, including the Vienna Orchestra and blues legends B.B. King, Solomon Burke and jazz star Diana Krall. * A top priority for Loukos, by using his contacts and reputation abroad, «is to build bridges for regular cooperation between the Hellenic Festival and top foreign cultural centers such as the festivals of Avignon, Edinburgh, Venice, Lincoln Center and the Berlin Schaubuhne.» «This will enable the Hellenic Festival to become part of the national cultural network and also make it possible to send Greek groups to these centers – something that has never happened and is a pity as we have some exceptional artists,» said Loukos. This is why there are three foreigners on the board of directors for the Hellenic Festival – the directors of Lincoln Center, the Avignon Festival and Sadler’s Wells of London – arousing indignation among Greek TV channels. Thus some performances will be coming to Greece from these centers this year and an exchange of performances has already been agreed for the coming years with organizations such as Avignon, Lincoln Center, the Venice Biennale, the Berlin Schaubuhne Theater and the Beijing Opera. In addition, the intercultural European Channel ARTE has asked to broadcast the events of the festival. «I do not know whether the new festival will sell better; I hope so because the average number of tickets sold has been quite low so far,» said Loukos. «I know though that it is a different proposal, addressed to a public that is curious and willing to discover new things.»

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