“Art should reach the source, places where social tensions are high, where people live their own routine, they discuss their problems, endure difficulties or just want to let off some steam,” noted Nikos Diamantis, artistic director of the Piraeus Municipal Theater.
The subject of the discussion was the Municipal Theater’s “Allilegii” (Solidarity) program, one of many projects developed by state and private theater companies in an effort to present cultural activities beyond the conventional stage. In Greece, this creative trend has acquired strong social characteristics, especially in the years of the financial crisis. Theater troupes are taking to the street to check society’s pulse and converse with the people.
The Solidarity program, in particular – a Piraeus Municipal Theater and Stavros Niarchos Foundation initiative – is essentially a traveling production staged at local hospitals, cafes, cultural centers, detox centers and prisons, among other places.
“The experiment of an actor descending from his familiar stage to perform right next to the audience, includes an element of surprise – for actors and viewers alike,” noted Diamantis.
“In order to create, life imitates art,” added director Rinio Kyriazi, who is working with one of the two actor troupes running the program. A second troupe is working with director Costas Papaconstantinou.
The two troupes comprise a theatrical project which involves working with acclaimed and contemporary Greek plays. Kyriazi’s actors, for instance, are working on excerpts from Petros Sevastikoglou’s “Aggela,” Vangelis Hatzigiannidis’s “La Poupee,” Iakovos Kambanellis’s “He and His Trousers” and Gregorios Xenopoulos’s “Stella Violanti,” among other works. Papaconstantinou’s team is working on excerpts from plays by Costas Mourselas (“The Bouhara Carpet”), Fofi Trezou (“The Architect”) and Iakovos Kambanellis (“The Courtyard of Miracles”), among others.
“Members of the audience may discover that art can provide a way out of problems, and this is particularly true in the case of Greek plays which represent very familiar situations,” added Kyriazi.
The 45-minute performances are admission-free and showcase casts of under-30-year-olds. The actors’ casting adds one more parameter to the notion of solidarity, offering job opportunities in a sector where unemployment is particularly high.
Officials at the Piraeus theater have already received about 60 requests by local institutions interested in hosting the productions. Shows are scheduled to be presented at maximum-security Korydallos Prison, the Metaxa Hospital, senior citizens’ centers (KAPI), and the KETHEA Nostos center for dependent individuals, among other venues.
The project’s high demand is also due to the fact that the production has no technical requirements.
“We are living in an era of movement, in some cases violent movement. People are led to extremes, others are marginalized,” said Diamantis. “During such times, art takes on a particular educational dynamic. We want to use this to talks about solidarity.”