NEW YORK – In Chorus a new play by renowned Greek playwright Dimitris Dimitriadis (Greek National Literature Award), with live music composed by the acclaimed composer Kamala Sankaram and directed by Eclipses Group Theater NY (EGTNY) co-artistic director Ioanna Katsarou premiered on June 25 in Astoria Park. Two subsequent performances, one at 31st Avenue and 34th Street in Queens, part of the NYC Open Streets program, and the final one again in Astoria Park, were also presented.
The play tracks the civic awakening of a previously passive Greek tragic chorus. A group of women and men are summoned to the palace, but they don't know why. The leaders are gone, and the gods are silent. In this political and existential void, the chorus members take action for the first time, redefining their roles as fully engaged members of the state and the stage.
This thought-provoking and timely play showcased the talented artists and musicians bringing theater back to Astoria in spite of some challenging conditions during the first performance, including high winds and trains passing overhead on the Hell Gate Bridge. The actors in the usually thankless role of the chorus drew the audience into the world of the play with dynamic performances and impressive vocals.
Katsarou gave the welcoming remarks before the performance, thanking everyone for attending. She told The National Herald that it took a month to get the permits and production together even as the pandemic restrictions were lifted.
The unusual conditions made the show seem even more relevant as the characters struggle to adjust to their new reality, like so many during the pandemic.
Many audience members noted how good it was to see a play, viewing it as a sign that things are getting back to “normal” finally after more than a year without live theater in New York. Though the play was held outdoors, social distancing was still maintained as a precaution.
The Consulate General of Greece in New York was represented by Cultural Attache and Public Relations Officer Evelyn Kanellea who congratulated the artists following the first performance. Also among those present were Demetra Varsami, Theodore Petropoulos, Pericles Kanaris, Diodoros Pagoudis, and TNH contributor Stavroula Tsoutsa.
In Chorus was part of The Greek Play Project New York presented by EGTNY and Greek Play Project. Under the auspices and support of The National Theater of Greece, the Greek Consulate in New York, the A.S. Onassis Program in Hellenic Studies at NYU, and the Greek Critics Association, The Greek Play Project NY is an important platform that promotes Greek Theater in the United States and introduces the work of contemporary Greek playwrights to a broader American audience since 2018. The Greek Play Project, cataloguing modern Greek plays and promoting Greek playwrights, was founded by Dr. Irene Mountraki, dramaturg and Head of the International Relations Department of the National Theater of Greece.
Besides the live performances of In Chorus, The Greek Play Project New York this year included a series of readings of contemporary Greek plays by women playwrights (Women’s voice in Greek Theater), recorded Greek plays, and a series of lectures about Greek theater available online: https://egtny.com/greek-play-project-ny.
The Creative team for In Chorus:
Playwright: Dimitris Dimitriadis
Director: Ioanna Katsarou
Composer: Kamala Sankaram
English Translation by: Theodora Loukas
Costume and set designer: Marina Gkoumla
Music director: Demetri Bonaros
Assistant music director: Alexandra Skendrou
Executive producers: Ioanna Katsarou, Demetri Bonaros
Stage manager: Vasiliki Ioannou
Social Media: Alexandra Skendrou
Graphic Designer: Polyvios Serdaris
Cast (in alphabetical order):
Percussion: Theodore Tsinias
Accordion: Mary Spencer Knapp