Interview to Myrto Loverdou
Originally published in vima.gr
Even though she has not yet announced the 2020 Athens & Epidaurus Festival programme, the first in her capacity as Artistic Director, Katerina Evangelatos is already taking major initiatives, setting her sights on the international scene. Through these initiatives Evangelatos aims to promote and highlight the work of Greek artists abroad.
“The idea behind this project came from my first-hand observations as an artist along with the ongoing debate in the Greek artistic community, all of which point to the same conclusion: Greek artists are underrepresented worldwide. This under-representation applies to Greek performing artists, that is theatre, dance and what is in between, i.e. interdisciplinary art. After all, it’s high time we stopped being bound by labels”, she points out. “Therefore, we made an effort – and this is something I’ve been working on since day one at the Festival – to create an organised showcase/communication platform involving artistic organisations and international Festivals.
It is my belief that the Greek scene boasts excellent theatre, dance and performance art productions. It is a pity we’re not able to showcase our work abroad. Any attempts to that end are incomplete, personal, individual. Things are easier only when there’s a big private sponsor in the picture. Otherwise, artists have to do everything by themselves, they are on their own. It is a process that is frequently time-consuming and costly – and, unfortunately, more often than not, fruitless.”
Together with her team of collaborators, Evangelatos decided that it’s worth the effort to try and plan “a more systematic way of keeping in contact with the power of History and its influence over the Festival.” What does this mean though?
“We will form a ten-member committee, consisting of 6 Greeks and 4 foreigners, all major figures of the theatre world, who will be tasked with regularly watching performances throughout the winter theatre season. A shortlist will be formed based on what they watched. Subsequently, this shortlist, a selection of roughly 12 productions, will be showcased in the summer in a very tight, week-long programme during the Athens & Epidaurus Festival.
During this specific week, these 12 productions will each be presented two to three times. The showcase will include up to three different productions daily. In addition to these performances, the Festival will also present its own productions as part of the showcase. All performances will be attended by a wide group of invited guests, the goal being to hopefully promote these productions’ future presentation abroad. The guests will comprise international theatre and festival directors, along with freelance programmers and curators who serve as advisers for international organisations. Theatre goers will also be able to buy tickets for these productions. All performances will come with surtitles, as is anyway the case with all Festival productions.
On our part, we will make sure to provide a small financial aid to selected productions in order to help continue their journey abroad. That is, part of their travelling expenses will be covered by the Festival, if need be.” Other expenses will be covered by international organisations inviting the specific productions.
Katerina Evangelatos estimates that this showcase week will take place “sometime between June and July.” She will personally serve as the eleventh (pro bono) member of this committee, watching performances throughout the year, together with international guests.
The members of the committee will be announced shortly. One of the four foreigners in question is the German Dr. Stefanie Carp, who has already been appointed Artistic Curator of the Athens & Epidaurus Festival for international productions. Serving as director of the German Ruhrtriennale festival until next fall, Carp, who is fluent in Greek, is an acclaimed dramaturg and close collaborator of Christoph Marthaler, and is renowned for her excellent educational background and her considerable experience in European artistic organisations.
Katerina Evangelatos wishes to contribute to high-quality theatre productions originally created outside the Festival, together with performances especially made for the Athens & Epidaurus Festival, by helping them reach out to the international scene.
“Hopefully this initiative will bear fruit, become established and have long-term prospects,” she adds.
As a reminder, Michail Marmarinos had first attempted a similar endeavour with the “Athens System” which proved to be short-lived due to a lack of funds.
“It’s paramount that Greek artists are given the opportunity to establish a dialogue with the international scene and present their work on the international stage”, Evangelatos concludes.
The premier Festival showcase will apparently be launched in the summer of 2021, after the committee has watched the theatre season that is set to debut in October 2020.