The Theater at Paros
Text: Maro Voulgari
An applause for seven groups!
“In the province, the window replaces the theatre and the promenades” Gustave Flaubert wrote, circa 1850. In 2017 at Paros seven notable theatre groups have been ready -for a long time now- to prove him wrong. Their activities, the excellent acting level, the very carefully chosen repertory and the enthusiastic response of the public have created small intellectual circles which stimulate the interest one might have as a spectator or as a participant. The small theatre halls participate in a mystagogy, behind the scene of the easy tourist picture, while the 29th Meeting of the Aegean Amateur Dramatics at Paros will undoubtedly be the island’s top cultural event.
With enthusiasm, good ideas, professional seriousness and the amateurs’ love, the island’s amateur companies presented the outcome of their hard effort, this year as well. The performances are strong and masterly with a wide repertory range and the amateur companies are closely knit and consistent with the artistic profile each one has built.
The Theatre of the Old Market is the group of Moschoula Kontostavlos. It is one of the oldest companies on the island, possibly with the “heaviest” repertory and with a history of excellent performances which always captivate even the most difficult audience. The group is active at Parikia with premises at the Dimitracopoulos building. The theatre hall is always full since the company’s first night is a top cultural event for Paros.
The theatre company of Archilochos is also one of the oldest and most active. It has been created by Giorgos Yemeliaris at Parikia. There, he has also set up a small acting school, offering to the island performances of the classic and modern theatre.
The repertory of the Naousa Paros Theatre Company covers both classic and modern texts under the guidance of Ypapandi Roussou. The performances are usually staged at the hall of the Naousa Music and Dance Group. The repertory ranges from Neil Simon to Ibsen with the direction being fresh, stimulating and up to date.
The group of the Association of the Naousa Women and the Association of Marissa’s Women, two women groups that have been experimenting mainly with Greek writers, adding their own touch to the Parian dramatics.
The list includes the A.M.E.S NEREAS theatre group with excellent choices since 2005 when it started, as well as the Naousa Children Theatre Group. All this amounts to a theatre activity admirably disproportionate to the island’s population.
The theatre company of Archilochos.
Theatre acts at Archilochos
The people of an amateur group seek communication, Giorgos Yemeliaris, in charge of the “Theatre Acts” group at Archilochos, tells us. They want to talk, to share, to know other people, to exchange views. They want, so to speak, to oppress their selfishness a bit, to become part of a group. At the same time, they want to unblock themselves. Part of my work is to “unlock” people who are locked. You see, it is not that simple to be on the stage. Everyone takes their time. However, when they cross this border and everything goes well, then they flourish and this is a very moving moment for me. When I watch them acting, I see the amount of work done and I am moved.
The workshop is also a pool for the theatre group. The courses start in October and take place once a week. They are open to all. Anyway, the first month is a trial period. Then the group closes and we go on.
The 29th Aegean Amateur Dramatics
We wanted very much to host this meeting on the island, Mr Yemeliaris tells us. It is a 29-year-old institution and we had never hosted it on Paros. The Federation which decides which island will host the meeting works –mutatis mutandis- a bit like the Olympic Committee. There are islands which state their intention to host this cultural event but they must satisfy some prerequisites and have the necessary infrastructure. Paros was not ready some years ago. With the appropriate preparation and the right public relations, we entered the participation procedure, we set up a committee, we prepared a working file and we promised that the spacious hall of the Professional Lyceum building would be ready by October. It will be used as a cultural centre in the future. We must point out that Paros is the island with the most theatre groups in the Cyclades. The meeting will take place from October 5th to 25th with over two performances per day. The island will host over thirty theatre companies who will stay at Porto Paros. Performances will take place at the Professional Lyceum, at Naousa’s municipal theatre and at Nereas. In the same period, other cultural events involving dance groups will also take place and some parties will be organized as well. The whole event is something which will advertise the island and will boost cultural tourism. I should add that entrance to all performances will be free.
The theatre group of Naoussa.
Naousa’s Theatre Group
Naousa’s Theatre Group participates in Paros cultural events since 1985, we are told by Ypapandi Roussou who is in charge of the group. All these years, for me the most fascinating journey is that of the rehearsal- not so much the outcome.
All of us, the adults, are people with our jobs in the mornings and we come here in the evening and put our souls into this. Each one does their best. No one is a professional, we are all amateurs. So in order to approach the text and the roles, we start with readings which are very important in helping the actors understand what they play and how they must say it. This, I think, is the most important, the process of the rehearsals.
I’d say that the theatre is a kind of psychotherapy, it heals our soul, it saves the soul. The children have realized this and when the performance is over they miss it.
The 29th Aegean Amateur Dramatics
The 29th Meeting of Aegean Dramatics is a very important event for me and the group. We have been participating in this meeting since 1991. Naousa’s theatre group was the first to go and I am touched that we shall host this important institution. We are one of the Federation’s founding members, so you can understand what this event means for us. From the very first years everybody wanted to come to Paros. Paros is a much beloved island. We always wondered whether it could take place here because we saw that in the other islands the infrastructure was excellent. In the recent years, however, we went to smaller islands in which the infrastructures were not so good, so this year we took the chance to submit our candidacy. The Council was favourable to the proposal and we had a positive reply. They visited the venues and agreed that much work had to be done, especially at the Professional Lyceum where a large hall for 350 people is under preparation. Our hall will not be used, surely because we are the only group who pay rent. We have no help; we do not get any subsidies. I know that this hall has problems, but for me it is a place of creation where musicians, dancers, actors, choirs come and put their soul. It radiates a kind of energy and it is important to me. I wholeheartedly wish for the success of the Meeting. I am a bit worried because things here are done slowly, but I also hope that everything will go well. Paros will benefit both in the tourist and the cultural sectors. It is an opportunity to see two or three performances daily for ten days and I am looking forward to enjoying them.