“Raus” Brings Laughs to NHM in Chicago 4/27

Satire is a Greek tradition whose preservation the nation’s leaders seem to take very seriously, with or without a crisis.

NEW YORK – Satire is a Greek tradition whose preservation the nation’s leaders seem to take very seriously. With or without a crisis, they strive assiduously to generate material that will keep their citizens laughing as an antidote to the pain they themselves have inflicted.

Eclipses Group Theater NY in Collaboration with the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago are doing their part to ease the pain among diaspora Greeks by presenting Raus – Get Outa Here, on Sunday, April 27 at 4 PM at the museum.

Raus was written by Greek playwrights M. Reppas and I. Papathanasiou and Museum Director Connie Mourtoupalas told TNH that the play’s humorous plotline satirizes “things that have recently come to the surface in Greece.

The play is set in motion by a government employee’s unexpected inheritance of a house. When he and his cohorts learn that a great Greek poet once lived there – they did what comes naturally: they set up an NGO to milk the EU cow for all it is worth.

The invitation says “An unexpected heritage brings together six wildly different characters; an Official of the Ministry of Transportation, his wife – a Pharmacist, a Nurse, two Prostitutes and their flamboyant brothel Assistant.”

The excitement turns to terror – and hilarity – when a German EU commissioner suddenly shows up to investigate, hence the subtitle: I Germani Xanarhonte – The Germans are Coming Back. There are also local threats as an unexpected visitor threatens them with revealing their sham.

Mourtoupalas says the play is an opportunity for Diaspora Greeks to put a humorous twist on what they see in the news and to catch up on the latest slang from the homeland – the play will be presented in Greek, but there will be supertitles, which both Greek and English speakers will appreciate.

The play continues the tradition of satire that Greece is known for from authors like Aristophanes in ancient times, through the Karagiozi puppet shows, to the Epitheorisi shows of the 1960s and 70s. Clever Greeks got away with social and political criticism in ancient Greece’s darker days, Ottoman times, during modern Greek dictatorships and the repressive periods in between – sometimes accompanied by music.

When Mourtoupalas was growing up in Greece Epitheorisi was popular. “It’s something between a variety show or review, and a play; it had music and sketches and was concerned with current events…some of the commentary was very biting.”

Director Ioanna Katsarou calls the play a tribute to those traditions and the performers who through subtlety and cleverness satisfied the people’s hunger for social commentary and political satire.

The play stars: Antonis Armeftis, Dimitris Bonaros, Dimitris Bozinis, Ioanna Katsarou, Theodora Loukas, Diodoros Pagoudis, Elena Paloumbis and Eirini Tsiari.

The Eclipses Group Theater NY presented Raus! in Astoria at the Stathakion Center in November, 2013. The earlier Reppas-Papathanasiou comedy “The In-laws from Tirana” had a highly successful run in Greece and the United States.