The production of the ancient Greek tragedy, by Sophocles, “Antigone”, the first joint production between the National Theatre of Greece, the State Theatre of Northern Greece and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC) was presented on Wednesday, September 28th, at ancient Greek theatre of Salamis, near Famagusta, in the northern Turkish occupied areas of Cyprus.
Yiannis Toumazis, the Chairman of the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC), welcomed on behalf of the Organisation thousands of spectators at the Salamis amphitheatre. “We are blessed to be in a position to enjoy Antigone, a masterpiece by the great ancient Greek playwright Sophocles, right here at the center of Cyprus` culture and civilization, performed by actors and actresses from the three Greek-speaking state theatres, directed by Statbehalf of Famagusta Walled City Association (MASDER), which assisted and supported this production, Serdar Atai wellcomed the guests, culture and art lovers, peace volunteers and “eautiful people of our beloved Famagusta”.
Featuring subtitles in Turkish and English, Antigone was the second production of a Greek tragedy in 42 years staged at the amphitheatre in Salamis, Famagusta. The first one was “Hippolytous”, put on stage last year.
The play was set to at 20.30 but ten minutes after the set opening time, people were still arriving, trying to find a seat. Toumazis said that this incredible turnout was unexpected. Salamis theatre can seat 4.000 people and it was full to capacity. A total of 24 buses carried people to the venue and hundreds of individuals came in their own cars, along with Turkish Cypriots, foreigners and diplomats to watch the two hour long performance.
In statements to CNA, Toumazis talked about an historic moment both for the Cyprus theatre and Cyprus in general. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots watched together this performance which carries the message that “love rules and the universal, ecumenical laws of gods and humans prevail over any structure or authority.”
When asked if this could be institutionalised somehow, after staging two theatre productions at Salamis “Hippolytus” and “Antigone”, Toumazis said that they hoped that this will not happen. “These efforts are made in the context of the Technical Committee for Culture, to bring the two communities closer together, for the reunification of our country. I hope that we will not need to stage many more performances this way. I hope that we all will live in a united Cyprus “.
His wish echoes the wishes of the audience: that Cyprus, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion, will soon be reunited.
“The cast, the audience, everybody involved and present at this production, we all stand in awe, just being here and experiencing this,” he said, pointing out that “Salamis is one of the most important theatres of Cyprus, one of the cradles of our civilization”.
The energy and pulse of the audience is filtered through to the actors, he added. He thanked all those who have helped put on this performance, the bicommunal Technical Committee for Culture and MASDER.
Famagusta is a bird with broken wings, Serdar Atai from MASDER has told CNA. He said that because of the way that Varosha, the fenced off part of the city of Famagusta, was captured in 1974, the city cannot be developed economically, its people cannot take advantage of the beaches, as the Turkish army is there, and there is high unemployment.
The inhabitants of Famagusta, now living away from their hometown, are in favor of a Cyprus settlement, as he added. Atai explained that one of the main goals of MASDER is to highlight our common cultural heritage and said bringing the two communities together is very important.
Greek director Stathis Livathinos chose Sophocles’ most celebrated play, with a view to put together on stage three generations of actors. “Antigone” will be performed at Larnaka on Friday, September 30.