Greek and international artists meet in this celebration of theatre, music, dance, and visual arts to share their astounding work with the audience. Visitors from all over the world have a unique opportunity to participate in this massive celebration, at the same time enjoying the natural beauties of the magical Greek landscape.
By Rudina HOXHA
Panayotis Panayotidis, one of the main press office representatives of the Athens Festival Press, gives an exclusive interview to Follow Business Albania explaining what one of the oldest art festivals in Europe offers and what a great possibility it is for the international artists including the Albanian ones.
“One of the major advantages of the Festival is its ability and aim to host performances from several countries offering the opportunity to its audiences to see art from abroad. Several Albanian artists, who live and work in Greece, have participated at the Festival, including director Enke Fezollari, dancer Blenard Azizaj, choreographer Ermira Goro and actor Laertis Vasiliou,” Panayotidis said in the interview.
In 2007, the Festival hosted “Medea” performance by Euripides, (directed by Mikel Kalemi) a production of “Atelier 31” theater company in collaboration with the National Theatre of Albania.
Panayotidis states that the Festival targets international audiences, thus, most performances in all major venues, i.e., Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Peiraios 260 and Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, have English surtitles and in the last years there is a target for an early announcement of the program.
The Athens and Epidaurus Festival hosts numerous theatre, dance, music, and visual artists, famous in Greece and worldwide, attracting large audiences from all around the world. The most important cultural event in the country, it combines tradition with modernity.
This year, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival spanned from June 1 to August 18.
The Athens and Epidaurus Festival is well-crafted. Big minds, splendid interpretation, challenging artworks, probing huge topics. What is the main idea behind this Festival? What audiences do you aim?
The Athens and Epidaurus Festival was founded in 1955 and over the years, it managed to become one of the most important performing arts festivals in Europe and in the world. Especially, during the last 15 years the Festival achieved to broaden its audience in order to embrace many different social groups. When in 2006 the Festival founded the Peiraios 260 venue, a previous industrial area, it started to attract younger spectators, who gradually became “big Festival fans,” being well-informed with the most recent progress in the international trends in theatre and contemporary dance. The Peiraios 260 venue kept on purpose its industrial character and the Festival’s most avant garde performances take place there, including international as well as Greek productions.
At the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, the audience has a more “general love” for music, opera and theatre. Contingent upon the character of the performance, i.e., Greek traditional or popular music, classical music, musical, the audience change. Although in the past, let’s say 20 years ago, dance was the starring art at the Herodium, featuring great dancers from the classical ballet, nowadays, dance is mostly growing in the Peiraios 260 venue focusing on contemporary dance groups and artists.
Recently, the Festival has inaugurated the “Opening to the City” section, which is a festival within the Festival including site specific performances in various unexpected places (historical mansions, ancient open markets, central squares) of the city. Many of these performances have a free entrance reflecting the current financial crisis and giving the opportunity for attendance to citizens who wouldn’t attend otherwise.
Moreover, the Festival targets international audiences, thus, most performances in all major venues, i.e., Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Peiraios 260 and Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, have English surtitles and in the last years there is a target for an early announcement of the program. Consequently, this year the program for the Epidaurus Festival was announced in November 2017 and for the Athens Festival in February 2018.
In what way can Greece and Albania bring even more ahead their cooperation in the art level?
One of the major advantages of the Festival is its ability and aim to host performances from several countries offering the opportunity to its audiences to see art from abroad. Regarding Albania, the Festival hosted in 2007 the performance “Medea” by Euripides (director Mikel Kalemi), a production of “Atelier 31” theater company in collaboration with the National Theatre of Albania. In addition, several Albanian artists,who live and work in Greece, have participated at the Festival, including director Enke Fezollari, dancer Blenard Azizaj, choreographer Ermira Goro and actor Laertis Vasiliou.
Greek art has come under the international radar. In your view, what makes Greek art attractive for foreign audiences?
Greece’s tradition in Ancient Drama is a major variable for attracting foreign audiences. This tradition is shown at the performances staged at the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and at the Little Theatre of Epidaurus (where more alternative approaches to Ancient Drama are staged). Over the years the approach of interpreting Ancient Greek Drama grows in several different directions exploring the timelessness of the Ancient Greek authors.
How difficult is to produce such a sustainable art festival like Athens Art Festival?
The difficulties are many including: cost management, keeping in touch continuously with external as well as government sponsors, administration cost. Most importantly though is the fact that the festival organization is highly demanding since there is a tremendously big number of productions that have to be promoted and carried out in a short period of time. Last year, the performances were 126 and this year 87. This year, the Athens and Epidaurus Festival was spanned from June 1 to August 18.
News Source: Rudina Hoxha
Photo credit: The Odeon of Herodes Atticus and Evi Fylaktou