The International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama is a distinct cultural event with an international character, hosting for 2 decades in Cyprus theatre companies from all over the world to present ancient Greek drama in their own language.

When in 1997, the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute decided, after a suggestion by the then director, Mr. Nicos Shafkalis, to launch the “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama”, it was motivated by one ambition: to give ancient Greek drama a wider presence in the theatrical activities of the island and thus contribute to the building of theatrical sensibility among the people, by offering them entertainment of a multi-cultural nature and high aesthetic standards. And this is due to the fact that the Centre has always believed that ancient Greek drama which constitutes the basis of contemporary European drama and an element of the world cultural heritage has direct relevance to today’s world.

The performances are presented in open-air amphitheatres, such as the Ancient Odeon in Paphos, the Curium Ancient Theatre in Limassol and the Makarios III or “Skali” Amphitheatres in Nicosia, during the whole month of July every year.

The performances are presented in open-air amphitheatres, such as the Ancient Odeon in Paphos, the Curium Ancient Theatre in Limassol and the Makarios III or “Skali” Amphitheatres in Nicosia, during the whole month of July every year. Performances bear an intense coloring of the performers’ country and the mosaic that is being created opens a dialogue with contemporary stages and an international audience.

Each year the Festival grows, acquiring its own multicultural character since it hosts theatre groups coming from different cultural backgrounds and it is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important cultural institutions of the island.

During the last years, the Festival has developed significantly: it has broadened its scope, by providing space for the embracement of innovation through classical works, as well as the promotion of contemporary creation through staging ancient Greek drama. It has also expanded its audiences, local and foreign, by presenting performances with English and Greek surtitles. Moreover, it has given the broader part of society access to artistic creation and stimulated local creativity.

The theatre companies that participate in the Festival’s programme come from different countries. Most of them come from European countries such as Greece, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Sweden including Cyprus. However, there has been participation from the U.S.A., Russia, Korea, China and Israel as well. The performances, many of which are original in their approach, project the uniqueness of ancient Greek drama but also bear an intense colouring of the culture of the country from which they come.

Limassol Theatre Development Company (ETHAL) will open the 20th edition of the Festival at the Paphos Ancient Odeon on the 3rdof July, presenting The Poet and the Women (Thesmophoriazusae) by Aristophanes, directed by Minas Tigkilis, translated by Costis Colotas. The Theatre Krefeld and Mönchengladbach  gGmbH, the biggest theatre in the Lower Rhine region in the west of Germany will then present the two parts of Aeschylus’ trilogy Oresteia, Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers (The Choephori), directed by Matthias Gehrt, translated by Peter Stein. Following these productions, the new Cypriot theatre Group “Ftochologia” will present Plutus (Wealth) by Aristophanes, directed by Kostas Silvestros and the theatre company de Roovers will travel from Belgium to present Oresteia, based on Aeschylus. The Festival will close with Antigone by Sophocles, staged by the 5th Season Art from Greece, directed by Themis Moumoulidis, in a new translation by Panayiota Pandazi.

The last years the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama is developing significantly and it has been honored with the EFFE Label 2015/2016, as one of the best Festivals in Europe. Each year the Festival broadens its scope, while opening a dialogue with contemporary international and European stages and it has expanded its audiences, local and foreign, by presenting performances with English and Greek surtitles.

Diachronic desire of the organizers is the widest possible attendance of the Cypriot audience as well as foreign visitors to the festival’s performances, since they offer the opportunity every year to theatre friends to enjoy spectacular productions from various countries of the world, in low performance ticket prices.

The Festival’s Selection and Evaluation Committee is consisted of representatives of the Organizers: Nantia Stylianou, Senior Cultural Officer, Aristodimos Anastasiades, Cultural Officer A’ and Marina Tryfonidou, Cultural Officer,  Ministry of Education and Culture, Cultural Services, Leandros Taliotis, Director, Secretary of the Board of Directors of the CCOITI, Marinos Anogyriatis, Director,Treasurer  of the Board of Directors of the CCOITI, Giorgos Mouaimis, representing the CCOITI and Irena Epaminondou, Tourism Officer, Cyprus Tourism Organization.

The International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama is co-organized by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.

Since 2014 all the performances of the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama are included in the official program “European Capital of Culture – Pafos2017.”

To learn more, go to the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.