With emotion, sensitivity, humor, collectivity and the urge for inclusiveness that runs through today’s art world on a global scale.


No one can be left behind

Text: Chryssa Nanou

Over the course of a 15-year period, Thessaloniki-based En Dynamei ensemble turned the tables for Greece’s contemporary art scene, paving new ways of expression and thinking. In the core of the endeavor is nested the need of this unique collective’s members – young artists with or without disabilities – to share personal thoughts and stories, to explore universal aspects of the human condition, to eliminate the distance from otherness, shedding a different light onto reality. With emotion, sensitivity, humor, collectivity and the urge for inclusiveness that runs through today’s art world on a global scale.

“We embrace openness so that young people are given the chance to discover something for themselves, that would allow them to go one step further in their lives. Beyond the artistic outcome, it is an ideal way for our members to perceive life through coexistence and comprehend that no one can be left behind,” explains the ensemble’s artistic director Eleni Dimopoulou. “En Dynamei does nothing more than to take into account the needs of its members, making sure that our work’s topics include these people. It is an experiential process that has shaped the young people devoting their free time to this group to a great extent. And we would like to thank them for considering En Dynamei as their family.”

Actor and director Eleni Dimopoulou co-founded En Dynamei in 2008 in Thessaloniki, with Maria Ioannidou, while director Eleni Efthymiou joined the project along the way. Their goal was to offer support to the group’s members, helping them to become integrated to society on an equal basis. “We envisioned the project and put it into motion,” says Eleni Dimopoulou. “Our interest and concern is to secure En Dynamei’s spot in Greece’s artistic calendar. It goes without saying that it took many years to reach this point. Going back in time, I can’t help but to wonder where we found the courage and the boldness to do what we did. We took heed of a need expressed by the people we love. We decided to dare for their sake, for their needs and questions to be heard.”

Α pivotal question tormenting all parents with disabled children is “what will happen to my child when I die?” and this shattering question-concern serves as bedrock for the play The “Other” Home, staged by Onassis Stegi in 2015, the second part of the trilogy The Other Normal, which kicked off in 2012 with the play The Fan Man or How to Dress an Elephant and called it a wrap in 2018 with Horses in Love, a play that renders homage to the forces of unreasonable love that makes people act with resorting to logic.

The play, after being showcased in Thessaloniki’s 4th Forest Festival in 2018 and the 2019 Athens-Epidaurus Festival, had a successful European tour (Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Portugal), making one more stop at the Municipal Theater of Piraeus, before returning this year to Thessaloniki. “In no time, we had three top-notch productions under our belt. This accomplishment brings forth the way we work, laying out a new methodology on inclusiveness and young people’s education. There’s an enormous research background behind every play we write,” adds Eleni Dimopoulou.

En Dynamei cannot be confined within the label of a theatrical ensemble, as it constitutes a multidimensional artistic entity, having taken part in acclaimed visual art exhibitions, hosted in prestigious museums, such as Benaki Museum and the former Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, music productions, as well as photo projects. Nevertheless, theater is the one to allow the group’s visibility to take center stage. “It is truly remarkable that theater stands out as the only art to promote our visibility to such an extent. I have been involved with theater over the last 45 years, having worked alongside the Experimental Stage, Roula Pateraki and many more theater ensembles, and I am proud to say that En Dynamei allowed me to grasp the full scale of theater’s power, as a form of art that can swiftly, intensely and drastically get a fresh point of view through to people’s heads. I may sound pompous, and believe me when I say that I was not so convinced on the matter, but witnessing the results of Eleni Efthymiou’s work, it became clear to me that a straightforward artistic view can be uttered within just two hours. Theater is an outstanding social instrument, if used wisely. En Dynamei tackles social issues that demand immediate solutions and attention, as well as brave decisions that would enable everyone’s lives. When dealing with otherness by raising the question “do I have the right to live, fall in love and have a roof over my head?”, this question triggers the political responsibility to provide an answer,” points out Eleni Dimopoulou.

En Dynamei ensemble is inextricably and directly linked to Thessaloniki. “Thessaloniki is my homeland. City-wise, Thessaloniki has the advantage of small distances, allowing people to bind together easily in groups. Thessaloniki has always been the city of groups. En Dynamei turned for help and support to the dynamic of lifelong friends. Moreover, Thessaloniki provides more freedom, as it is not the center of everything, so you are not under everyone’s judgment all the time. We can carry out our work more freely, costs are lower and the support is more noteworthy. In particular, we have built a very meaningful and solid collaboration with the National Theater of Northern Greece. Our biggest concern is no other than the financial part that would allow the group to keep up the good work. We do not have a place to host our rehearsals, so we owe a huge thanks to Helexpo for providing an entire pavilion, as we are a multimember group that needs a big stage.”