When language and tradition can become passports that transcend all borders.

Simos Kakalas

Greek theater in search of openness

Text: Chryssa Nanou
Photos: Sakis Gioumpasis

«Theater is a means to gain knowledge in a human world, a world of characters, emotions, resolutions and desires. By trying to enter these worlds, you also gain a vast amount of personal knowledge», Simos Kakalas says.  

Born in Thessaloniki, the 44-year-old director and actor unfolds his artistic and personal experiences of the last two decades: Having made his debut as an actor in the ‘90s, he founded the «Horos» theater company in Thessaloniki in the year 2004. For the past few years he has been living and working in Athens. With «Horos» he has performed in major stages in both Athens and Thessaloniki, and has toured throughout the country – even reaching isolated villages and remote islands, while he’s also participated in numerous theatrical festivals both in Greece and abroad, such as:   Sibiu Festival (Romania), Tampere International Theatre Festival (Finland), Dialog festival (Poland), International Street Artist Festival (Poland), Heidelbergerstuckemarkt (Germany), Blagoevgrad Festival (Bulgaria), Greek Festival in Athens (Greece), International Short Film Festival in Drama (Greece), International Puppet Festival Kilkis (Greece), International Puppet Festival Nicosia (Cyprus).

«From the very start we proceeded with openness, as we wanted to get in touch with what was happening outside the Greek borders», he stresses. This approach holds even greater interest when considering that the repertoire of the «Horos» ensemble embodies to a large extent projects exploring the concept of “Greekness”, along with matters related to language and tradition. Yet, this concept was no barrier in the ensemble’s thrust towards openness.  As Simos Kakalas explains, «this particular repertoire explores the meaning of national identity, which is a concern that is generally reflected in theater and the outside world and, in this sense, the term “national” sheds its local markings and becomes “transnational”. »

In recent years, the Greek cinema, along with the drama and dance scenes, are making strides beyond Greece, steadily taking part in international events.  «We’re finally becoming part of this landscape, which we were pretty much blocked from, with the exception of the larger stages such as the National Theater of Greece and the National Theater of Northern Greece,» notes Simos Kakalas, albeit adding that this endeavor isn’t free of hurdles. «We don’t have to be concerned about coming out in Europe with a “Zorbas and ouzo” motto; instead, each performer, every ensemble has to have an identifying mark.  The key is in managing to communicate with the people. Here, unfortunately, everything from start to finish is dependent upon the performer’s personal work and initiative. In other countries, the embassy may pick up the tab for the travel expenses, but in Greece you’re on your own. Still, things are moving about and we’re slowly but surely emerging from our inwardness.»

Photos