NEW YORK – The Hellenic-American Cultural Foundation (HACF) presented Socrates Now on October 23, at the Merkin Concert Hall at the Kaufman Music Center in Manhattan. The 90-minute solo performance-discourse led by award-winning actor, director, and producer Yannis Simonides, captures the essence of Socratic ethics while engaging the audience to think, question, and, perhaps, reconsider.
First presented by Elliniko Theatro in New York in 2004, Socrates Now has since been performed to great acclaim at the United Nations, the Athens Agora, on NBC’s Today Show, and in over 475 venues in 22 countries, and 10 languages. Leading world universities have combined the performance with interactive seminars on Socratic ethics and how they apply to our society today.
HACF Chairman Nicholas Kourides gave the welcoming remarks and thanked everyone for their support. He noted that HACF has presented over 30 significant events as part of its mission to organize and promote high quality and relevant educational and cultural programs, concerts, lectures, exhibits, and similar events for all persons interested in the history, culture and affairs of Greece and its people and the people of Greek ancestry outside of Greece.
In the play, Socrates is on trial for his life and faces his accusers with his trademark wit, cutting logic, and the courage of his convictions. Simonides captivated the audience with his talent, bringing the character of Socrates to life and highlighting the issues that faced the ancient Athenian jury and continue to challenge us all today.
After touring the world for 15 years, Socrates Now returned home to its city of origin with the performance on October 23. A post-performance discussion with Simonides further delighted the audience with his wit and insights into the character of Socrates and the present day implications of the play. In response to one question from an audience member concerning living in a world where half the people question everything like Socrates and the other half question nothing like Confucius, Simonides began by saying that he is not actually Socrates or a philosopher. He also pointed out the importance of introspection, as the famous quote attributed to Socrates is repeated in the play, “the unexamined life is not worth living,” from Plato’s Apology.
A reception followed the event and allowed the discussion to continue as Simonides graciously spoke with his fans and friends in the more casual atmosphere.
Maria Vrachnos was among those who congratulated Yannis Simonides at the reception which followed his performance in Socrates Now. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Simonides, born in Constantinople and raised in Athens, is Fulbright Scholar and a Yale trained actor, writer, and producer (BA/MFA). He has served as professor and chair of the New York University Tisch School of the Arts Drama Department, and as the executive director of Hellenic Public Radio in New York. He is the founder and director of the Greek Theater of New York, Elliniko Theatro.
His performance work includes plays by Euripides, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Shakespeare, Moliere, Buchner, Brecht, Kazantzakis, Kambanellis, Mitropoulou, Korres, Anagnostaki, Skourtis and others, along with solo and ensemble pieces culled from his own writings and those of Plato, Cavafy, Makriyannis, Gogol and others.
More information about the Hellenic-American Cultural Foundation is available online: hacfoundation.org.
Yannis Simonides in Socrates Now. Photo by Eleni Sakellis