NEW YORK – Cyprus New York (CNY) Productions Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to unite Cyprus and New York by sharing our cultural diversity through literature, drama, theater, poetry, music and dance, opened its archive for the first time in its first ever online event on November 1, with the video presentation of the play Kalinichta Margarita (Goodnight Margarita) screened at 2 PM and 7 PM. The event commemorated the 80th anniversary of OXI Day October 28, 1940, and honored the memory of cast member Chrysanthos Petsilas, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 73.
The play was presented live for three sold-out performances last November 1-3 at St. George and St. Demetrios Church in Manhattan and was filmed at that time for the CNY archive. The video is available on YouTube and on Facebook.
The play by Gerasimos Stavrou, directed by Theodoros Petropoulos and Phyto Stratis tells the harrowing true story of teacher Margarita Perdikari from Ioannina, Greece, and her life during the occupation in World War II. The production was held under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in New York in collaboration with the Greek Division of Ronald McDonald House and was timed to follow the commemoration of Oxi Day, October 28, as well as the 80th anniversary of the start of WWII.
The production featured a stellar cast: Anna Tsoukala, Theodora Loukas, Stavros Markalas, Theodoros Petropoulos, Diodoros Pagoudis, Christiana Kandilioti, Chrysi Sylaidi, Tasos Karydis, Ariadne Panagopoulou, Angelo Niakas, Chrysanthos Petsilas, Phyto Stratis, Evangeline Zoulas, Demetris Michael, and Angela Tsamasirou in the title role of Margarita Perdikari.
The staging, breaking the fourth wall, allowed the audience to be immersed completely in the drama from the moment they entered the space of the church hall. The actors in costume and in character greeted the audience members as they came in. One actor went up to various people just as they walked in and asked if anyone had seen his niece.
Powerful performances by the entire cast brought to life this true story and the time period as well. Life during the occupation was vividly depicted from the early sort of denial/optimism to the gradual wearing down of the niceties of civilization as the fascist oppression grinds up the spirit of many people. And yet, the courage to stand up for what is right and to stand up even when the odds are against you persists.
Director Theodoros Petropoulos, a skilled actor in his own right and in this production as well, allows the actors and the text to shine with his keen understanding of stagecraft.
The historic church, one of the early Greek Orthodox communities in New York City, also provided a unique atmosphere with its historic black and white photos on display on one wall and a plaque commemorating the parishioners who fought for the preservation of freedom in World War II.
This poignant historical drama performed by the talented cast was not to be missed and the online screening offers the opportunity for those who missed the live performance to experience the intense drama.
The President of the organization Phyto Stratis said, "We are going through difficult times and, unfortunately, for 2020 all planned in-person events have been canceled. Despite all the adverse conditions, we honor the era of '40 and present our production from last year to all for free. The screening is dedicated to the memory of our beloved collaborator Chrysanthos Petsilas whom we lost this year. Chrysanthos was a valuable and important collaborator for us, a personal friend and an ardent supporter. Our organization opens its archive and together with our actors we share with you what we experienced last year with the public, as a huge thank you for supporting our work.”
The video has received 250 views on YouTube and 893 views on the CNY Productions Facebook page.
More information is available on Facebook where supporters can also make a donation to help CNY continue its mission: www.facebook.com/cyprusnewyorkproductions/.