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CULTURE & ARTS

Eclipses Group Theater, Greek Play Project New York Wows the Audience

NEW YORK – Eclipses Group Theater New York (EGTNY) presented The Greek Play Project New York, a series of public staged readings in collaboration with the Greek Play Project (www.greek-theatre.gr) and under the auspices of the Consulate General of Greece in New York, the A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies at NYU, and The National Theater of Greece on May 5-6. The audience responded enthusiastically to the staged readings and appreciated the opportunity to learn more about contemporary Greek plays and playwrights. A reception was held on Sunday before the performances of the final two plays. Among those present were Consul General of Greece in New York Konstantinos Koutras, AGAPW Founder and President Olga Alexakos, Dennisia Slabakis- Carnival of Love Foundation Co-founder and President, Greek-American playwright Jonathan Alexandratos, and many community members and theater fans.

The Greek Play Project New York featured the U.S. premieres of four plays by four renowned Greek playwrights: In Chorus by Dimitris Dimitriadis translation by Theodora Papachristofilou-Loukas, directed by Ioanna Katsarou; Andromache by Akis Dimou, translation by Demetri Bonaros, directed by Ioanna Katsarou; Seaweeds by Penny Fylaktaki, translation by Penny Fylaktaki, directed by Demetri Bonaros; and Blind Spot by Yiannis Mavritsakis, translation by Christina Polychroniou, directed by Katerina Alexaki.

The production is a collaboration of EGTNY, a nonprofit organization that serves as a cultural bridge between Greece and the United States, and Dr. Irene Mountraki, dramaturg, Head of the International Relations Department of the National Theater of Greece, and creator of The Greek Play Project, an important platform, cataloguing modern Greek plays and promoting Greek playwrights.

All the plays were performed in English. Dr. Mountraki provided introductory remarks about contemporary Greek theatre and each playwright. She told The National Herald that the project began with meetings in Athens in September and October of last year. By February, Mountraki noted, the space at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I Center at Washington Square South was secured and since then, the team has worked on the staged readings of the plays.

The production team- Katerina Alexaki, Ioanna Katsarou, Demetri Bonaros, and Alexandra Skendrou put together a remarkable two days of theater. When asked how the plays were chosen, Mountraki said they wanted to represent the contemporary theatre with a playwright of the slightly older generation as well as the young, up and coming playwrights included in the program. She also noted that they definitely wanted to include at least one woman playwright and selected the powerful family drama Seaweeds by Penny Fylaktaki which began the event on Saturday. Director Demetri Bonaros gave the welcoming remarks on the opening night of the series. Fylaktaki also translated her own work into English. The talented cast- Amanda Baxter, Sarah Doudna, Daniel Kirby, Tony Naumovski, and James Nugent delivered the powerful scenes masterfully, drawing the audience into the tension and the drama.

Left to right: James Nugent, Sarah Doudna, Tony Naumovski, Daniel Kirby, and Amanda Baxter performing in Seaweeds. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Blind Spot by Yiannis Mavritsakis weaves together the threads of the characters’ lives, gradually revealing how they intersect and connect. Theodora Loukas gave a skillful performance as Nicki with her wonderful stage presence and command of the subtle aspects of the play. Skendrou, also a powerful stage presence, delivered a heartrending speech that was haunting towards the end of the play.

The second day of the event featured two plays that were more poetic in nature with the bonus of music composed by the gifted Phytos Stratis who performed along with the talented musicians Ellie Tsachtani on flute and Theodore Tsinias on percussion. In Chorus by Dimitris Dimitriadis is a fascinating play, in which the ancient Greek theater tradition is drawn into the political landscape of the present day, asking powerful questions about leadership and the role citizens and theater play in the process. The interplay between the characters was performed so well by the wonderful cast- Yannis Amouris, Alexandra Skendrou, Demetri Bonaros, Jocelynn Catasus, Theodore Bouloukos, James Nugent, Loukas Skipitaris, Merlyn Whitehawk, Luisa Alarcón, Christos Alexandridis, and Theodora Loukas. They delivered their lines with perfect timing and consummate skill, highlighted by the musical elements of Stratis, Tsachtani, and Tsinias.

Andromache or Landscape of a Woman in the Dead of Night by Akis Dimou was the finale of the Greek Play Project New York. The poetic language of the monologue, translated by Bonaros, directed by Katsarou, and performed by Anthoula Katsimatides, was very moving. The evocative music composed by Stratis added a warmth, nostalgia, and interest to the already layered and compelling drama, reflecting the struggles of the refugee adjusting to reduced circumstances and a new identity.

Loukas noted the difficulty of translation and how the process was painstakingly done to not only be accurate but to also reflect the poetry of the playwright’s language. Bonaros thanked all those in attendance for their support, adding that all those involved hope the project will take root for future years. Mountraki told TNH that she also hopes the Greek Play Project New York will become an annual or a biennial event. Many audience members echoed the hope and look forward to seeing more and more contemporary Greek plays performed in New York.

More information is available online at www.egtny.com and

www.greek-theatre.gr/public/.

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