ATHENS – A Greek actor known for playing absurdist rοles drew the wrath of his colleagues and some state officials after he refused to perform for an audience limited to those vaccinated against COVID-19, postponing the production indefinitely.
Aris Servetalis, who starred in French-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco’s 1959 play Rhinoceros made his announcement on Instagram although he said he had told the producers earlier he wouldn’t take the stage if the unvaccinated weren’t allowed in the audience.
“I cannot support the segregation of people imposed by the new measures,” wrote Servetalis, an anti-vaxxer. Fellow actors said he was the only one in the production not vaccinated and while audiences must be, workers can get by with proof of negative tests.
“We are a society of individuals, not a herd divided between vaccinated and not,” he said, reported the news agency Reuters about his reasoning, irking performers often kept out of the last 18 months during the pandemic.
But he also drew praise from anti-vaxxers who don’t believe the shots are safe or effective or are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds, some going as far as thinking governments will inject microchips into them.
The government has restricted where the unvaccinated can go – but won’t require shots for anyone other than health care workers – as the pandemic has resurged with record numbers.
Those who are not inoculated are barred from indoor venues including restaurants, theaters, cinemas and gyms but can go into supermarkets and pharmacies although they are spreading the virus, now even infecting the fully vaccinated as the efficacy of shots begins to wear off.
The report said the vaccination level was 62 percent of the population of 10.7 million people but the government said it’s hit 73 percent, above the 70 percent benchmark health officials said would slow the pandemic but it hasn’t.
Many skeptics lined up for the shots after soaring cases, hospitalizations, people on ventilators in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and jumping deaths apparently convinced them after government campaigns didn’t.
His decision peeved many and enraged others, especially in the entertainment world as performers are struggling in the arts sector because they weren’t able to work during long lockdowns.
“I am shocked,” said Spyros Bibilas, who heads the Greek Actors’ Association. “I did not expect an actor to stop a show, ignoring that other people work there too. I find it unacceptable.”
Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis tweeted: “Are these reasons for leaving his colleagues unemployed, because he is not getting his way in the country?” the report added.
Servetalis was unswayed and now stands with other notable celebrities as anti-vaxxers, including athletes, famous guitarist Eric Clapton, pop singer Nicki Minaj, actresses Jessica Biel, Alicia Silverstone, Jenny McCarthy, actor Jim Carrey, and TV host Bill Maher.
Servetalis said that he had informed the Kivotos Theater company and the director in July of his intentions to leave if such measures were taken, allowing them time to find a replacement, but they didn’t.
His supporters went to social media to congratulate him for being against vaccines that have saved countless lives, some of them disbelieving in the Coronavirus or that it was the reason people died.
They praised Servetalis, who some news outlets have called “the hero of the anti-vaxxers,” those who are still alive. Protests against vaccinations drew crowds of thousands this summer in Greece.
“It was about time someone said NO,” one Instagram user wrote below the actor’s post. “Ι bow to your ethos and integrity,” another said.
In Rhinoceros, Servetalis played the central character Berenger, the only resident of a provincial French town who does not turn into an animal. Theatre of the Absurd pioneer Ionesco had called it an anti-Nazi play.