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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 May 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 MAY 2016 17 Women in Parliament by Aristophanes HAT’s new stage production set to commence in Sydney BILLY COTSIS part of our lives and it is our 'special time' together. H ellenic Art Theatre is one of those rare gems that consistently produces high-quality plays drawing upon our ancient Hellenic heritage. Its plays consistently appeal to Greek and non-Greek audiences alike, for it has a penchant for attracting lovers of classics from the broader community. From its first production in 1983, Electra by Sophocles, to their latest offering, Aristophanes' Women in Parliament (also known as The Assembly Women or Eκκλησιάζουσαι), HAT has brought joy to thousands of local theatregoers. Women in Parliament is an ancient Athenian comedy written in 390BC, well after the Peloponnese War ended in defeat to Sparta and the execution of Socrates nine years later. Athens was at the end of its Golden Age, and in its place came demagogues and a confused era of politics. Two of the actors, Evelyn Tsavalas and her son Hayden, spoke to Neos Kosmos about Aristophanes, their latest production and working together. Neos Kosmos (NK): Evelyn, how did you get involved with HAT? Evelyn Tsavalas (ET): Back in 1997, Stavros, my then manager at work, asked me to help with the snack bar and front of house for one of the productions. Being a theatre lover from a young age, I was immediately drawn to this world. NK: Aristophanes is one of the greats from the Golden Age of Athens, when artists, writers, poets and philosophers flourished. What can you tell us about Aristophanes and why does HAT continue to produce plays from this era? ET: Aristophanes is the only extant representative of the Old Chris Frangou Comedy, the initial phase of ancient Greek comedy, that is. In this phase of comic dramaturgy circa the fifth century BC, the chorus, mime, and burlesque still played a considerable part, which was characterised by bold fantasy, merciless invective and outrageous satire and a marked freedom of political criticism. Ancient drama is an important part of the repertoire of our artistic director, Stavros Economidis, who was enlightened into ancient Greek drama by his teacher and mentor, the late Chrysostomos Mantouridis. He in turn passed it on to us. HAT's first production, Electra, was performed in Mantouridis' honour. These plays are just as relevant today as they were 2,500 years ago. NK: I notice that most of your productions have English surtitles. When were they introduced? Do you think it is a hindrance or a good way to attract those not fluent in Greek? ET: HAT has used English surtitles since our 2002 production of Hecuba, reaching out not only to the now third generation of Greek Australians but to the wider community of theatre lovers, and also to drama and English students studying ancient Greek playwrights and plays. NK: In the last few HAT productions, a young man by the name of Hayden Tsavalas has appeared and made an impressive impact. Tell me about his evolution and what it's like to share the stage with your son. ET: Hayden attended HAT's kids' workshops and has performed in many other plays to date since then. Theatre has been a school for him, not only with the Greek language, but has played an important part in his confidence and ability to socialise with people of all ages. Theatre is a very important With Mulatu Astatke. NK: Hayden, you came through the children's workshops that HAT regularly conducts as a child. Tell us about that process and your theatre work to date. Hayden Tsavalas (HT): It started way before that, when I was about four, when I used to just come along while Mum volunteered with front of house, helping at the snack bar. At five, I made my first appearance. I have since performed in various productions ranging from tragedies, comedies and locally-written drama including Antigone, Oedipus Tyrannous, Iphegenia in Aulis and many other productions. NK: Most young people would dread the thought of working with a parent. What is it like working with your mum? HT: I guess I haven't known anything else. From when I was a kid we worked together. I would have had a different attitude later on in life - it probably would never have happened. When we're at the theatre, we are peers and collaborate with the rest of the team. Sometimes we appear in separate shows, in others together, it all depends on how Stavros casts a play. On many occasions, we have both been crew members supporting our team. NK: As a third generation Greek Australian, how important is the role of the theatre in connecting other Australianborn Greek people with ancient Greek culture? HT: Personally, I feel that theatre is the best way for other Australian-born Greeks to immerse themselves in the language and rich culture. It builds language skills, vocabulary, understanding of our history and builds confidence in a practical manner. Unfortunately, not many people see this value and it's slipping away. NK: The Hub at the Greek Cultural Centre in Marrickville has been a fantastic base. For those not familiar with the location, can you tell us why this area is crucial for local and Greek arts? ET: Marrickville was a suburb with a large Greek population, and although in recent years, many families have moved to the neighbouring suburbs, it continues today to draw Greeks together. It is still the highest percentage of ethnicity origin in the municipality after the UK and Ireland. Marrickville is where they come to get their Greek food from local delis like Lamia, the Greek cake shops, gyros shops, and other eateries, bakery and butchers. Till this day the older folk hang out in parliament, at the plaza near the post office discussing politics, religion, just like they would outside a kafenio in Greece. Even the odd game of tavli. As for the Addison Road Community Centre, HAT has been there 30 years; prior to us it was a Greek Cultural Centre. The location itself has many local artist studios, theatre spaces, ethnic groups and the ARCC Sunday Markets, which bring in many locals. * Aristophanes' Women in Parliament is now on and runs until 5 June. HAT runs weekly children's theatre workshops as a community service, free of charge for children aged 6-14. Tickets: $25 adults, $20 Concession. For bookings and further information go to www.hellenicarttheatre. com.au Evelyn 0413 989 007 Melpo 02 9519 8104 When: Fridays & Saturdays 7.30 pm, Sundays 4.00 pm Where: The Greek Theatre, Building 36, Addison Road Centre, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville, NSW. *Billy Cotsis is the author of The Many Faces of Hellenic Culture.
7 May 2016
21 May 2016