Dramaturgy in Cyprus after Independence,
- Andri H. Constantinou, Dramaturg, Professor Frederick University - Nicosia
[Translation: Vasiliki Misiou]
The present text aims at tracing Cypriot dramaturgy back, from the 1960s onwards; it draws the outline, presents the basic trends and refers to the most important representatives of the corpus of plays which has been greater than one can imagine. Allow me to clarify three parameters.
Firstly, we will focus mainly on plays that made it to stage: this is, but for a few exceptions, a rather safe criterion to implement with regard to the interest raised by these plays. Secondly, for reasons of methodology and economy, we will not elaborate on revues neither on the lavish production of plays for children or on devised theatre productions, as they constitute a separate category. Finally, since with the term Cypriot dramaturgy we refer to the corpus of plays written in Cyprus, we have to clarify that we know little about the plays written by Turkish Cypriots, in Turkish or Cypriot Turkish: we mainly know titles of plays and names of playwrights. Thus, due to lack of access to the relevant sources, we will refer only to plays written in either Greek or the Cypriot Greek dialect by Greek Cypriots. The term Cypriot dialect we will use later on refers to the dialect used by Greeks in Cyprus.
But let us examine first what preceded the period studied here. We owe what we know about the Cypriot theatre before 1960 to researcher Giannis Katsoures, who has unfortunately passed away recently.
The first theatre plays in modern Cyprus were written in the last decades of the 19th century. They are mainly dramas whose style is romantic, their goal is patriotic, and their themes are historical and mythological. These plays are to a great extent influenced by the plays written in Greece during the 18th and 19th century and by the then dominant ideological trends. The Cypriot plays of this period were written first in the katharevousa and later on in Modern Greek.
In the first half of the 20th century, poetic dramas as well as realistic plays on social issues were written, while there were also some interesting cases of satire. Notable examples include the play O dikigoros (The Lawyer) by Evgenios Zinonos, which the playwright characterizes as comedie, the play I dimoprasia (The Auction) by Tefkros Anthias which touches upon the problem of loan sharking and, also, the social drama O apogonos (The Descendant, 1951) by Demetros Demetriades (or Dorian) which incorporates elements of naturalism and is influenced by Henrik Ibsen. The play was awarded the first prize by the Kalokairinios Literary Contest organized by the Parnassos Literary Society, Athens. Other examples are the one-act play Mia nychta sto hani (A Night at The Inn) by A.A. Georgiades-Kyproleontas, which was awarded the second prize in a contest held by the Greek Playwrights Society in 1928 and was staged in Athens, as well as his one-act play I zoi en tafo (Life in the Tomb). Last, it’s worth mentioning the significant play Omiroi (Hostages) by Loukis Akritas whose theme relates to the Greek resistance fight against the German occupation. The play, whose influences in form derive from ancient Greek tragedy, was published in 1956 and was staged by the Cyprus Theatre Organization (THOC) in 1973. These plays are written in Modern Greek.
The dialect of Cypriot Greeks was heard for the first time on stage during the first decades of the twentieth century in revue performances, thus bringing the action closer to the audience. The first prose written in the Cypriot dialect is the drama I mitria (The Stepmother) by Adamos Galanou, in1925.
In the period between 1940 and 1980 the majority of plays was written in the Cypriot Greek dialect and drew on themes derived from the countryside and the life of Cypriot peasants; these plays belong to the genre termed as ethographia in Greek (“study of manners”). Revues, Greek musical comedies and operettas, genres that were highly popular in Cyprus especially during the first decades of the twentieth century, contributed to the development of Cypriot ethographia. One of the first examples of this genre is I agapi tis Marikkous (The Love of Marikkou), written in 1938 and performed many times by professional and amateur troupes.
These plays are mostly comedies and less often dramas, their themes are always taken from life on the island, especially rural life. Dramas basically have a didactic purpose, while comedies incorporate elements of farce. Cypriot ethographia often contains music and songs, more or less integrated into the plot, and performances sometimes include traditional dances. The first Cypriot musical comedy is To oneiro tou Tzypri tou Lefkariti (The Dream of Tzypris Lefkaritis) by Kostas Harakis, with music and songs by Achilleas Lymbourides. It was with this play that the successful troupe Kypriako Theatro (Cypriot Theatre) embarked on its course in 1951.
Rapid changes have taken place in the Cypriot society from the mid-20s onwards; those include the migration from rural to urban areas, the rise in the literacy level of the population, the transformation of everyday life along with the improvement of living conditions and the advance of technology, changes in politics, etc. Nevertheless, the stereotypes of ethographia remained intact. The plays of this genre insist on drawing themes from past rural life and actually portray, in a nostalgic mood, an idyllic image of a past reality that is now odd. Adherence to this genre contributed, I believe, to the long-delayed thematic and stylistic broadening of horizons in playwriting.
The fact that the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (RIK) held regularly theatre play contests and provided the opportunity for plays to be broadcasted on television and the radio led to the writing of plays whose themes remained in the context described above. Those plays, written in the Cypriot dialect, were favoured in this way and most radio dramas belong to the genre of Cypriot sketch.
In the period 1960-1974, during which the new State was dynamic but there was also political turbulence, a great number of theatre plays was produced. Ethographia thrived and waned over this period. Some playwrights served the genre and their style lies between ethographia and revues, while others sought new, more modern form and content.
After Cyprus’s Independence, plays were written that dealt with the recent liberation struggle. The State supported this trend: the first theatre play contest was announced in 1962 by the ambitious Cyprus Organization for Theatrical Development (OTHAC); it was sponsored by the State and asked for plays about the struggle of 1955-1959. The prize of the first contest was awarded to young and promising Rina Katselli for her play O anaxios (The Unworthy), which was staged by OTHAC the same year.
Katselli has been a dynamic and active personality since her early youth; she was the first woman to be elected Deputy in the Cypriot House of Representatives in 1981. Her work consists of around thirty theatre plays, full-length plays, one-act plays and short radio and TV dramas. Katselli’s work is bold and it reveals her intention to criticize the modern Cypriot society. In her early works she uses mostly the Modern Greek language, whereas in her later works she sometimes prefers the Cypriot dialect. The themes of her plays derive from contemporary Cypriot reality. A distinctive feature of Katselli’s writing is that the main characters, men and women, are solid persons, strong-willed ones, non-conformists who disregard social norms.
Another play written by Katselli was performed by established theatre in 1980 when THOC decided to stage Endoskopisi (Introspection). The name of the main character in Endoskopisi relates to his status: he is a displaced Greek Cypriot. The play was written a few years after the Turkish invasion of the island; that is, when the trauma of being a refugee was still recent. The hero strives to survive, along with his family, after their displacement. Despite some dramaturgical inadequacies, Endoskopisi is touching and can evoke true emotion. The play Giati efyen I Valou (Why Did Valou Leave?) deals with a family after the invasion of the island, which adjusts to new situations and soon becomes wealthy, whilst the main character is a foul-mouthed, undisciplined countrywoman who stands firm in the values of a more virtuous era. Her play I treli giagia (The Crazy Grandmother) deals with post-war bliss, while her play Xeniteia (Estrangement) deals with another era due to the interest of the playwright in Christian monasticism. The main character is sinful but unreconciled. Katselli satirizes modern reality with her more recent works Pamen kala (We’re Doing Well), written in 1994, and Pano geitonia (The Upper Neighbourhood), written in 2005. Her play Arkastos (2001), written within the framework of a theatre workshop and staged in Italy, is unexpectedly archaic and features rugged characters.
In the 1960s, historical dramas were also written such as Pavlos Xioutas’ Jouana which deals with the medieval history of Cyprus and it was staged by the Neo Theatro (New Theatre) in 1961. Many plays written by Kypros Chrysanthes, a doctor, litterateur and publisher of Pnevmatiki Kypros (Intellectual Cyprus) literary magazine, were also published; in her study about the plays that dealt with the liberation struggle of 1955-1959, Chara Bakonikola presents ten plays by Chrysanthes on this subject. None of these has been staged by professionals so far.
Poet Pavlos Liasides (1901-1985) also wrote notable works, such as three verse plays in the style of ethographia, imbued with his unique poetic characteristics. These are: I agapi nikitis (Love Wins) which was performed by amateurs in 1935 for the first time and it was the opening play performed by the troupe founded in 1983 by Vladimiros Kafkarides, once again under the name Neo Theatro. Ten years later, the play was staged by Satiriko Theatro (Satirical Theatre). O Alavrostoisiotis (The Shadow Whisperer) was first presented on the radio by the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation and later on staged by THOC, in 2002. O monogios (The Only-son) was broadcasted on television by RIK.
Among the representatives of ethographia who attempted to broaden their subject matter were Michalis Pitsillides and Michalis Pasiardes.
Pitsillides was born in 1920 and died in 2008. He wrote about twenty full-length plays and more than a hundred one-act plays and radio plays. Most of his plays were written in the Cypriot dialect. He made his professional stage debut with the drama Gia poion na vrexei (For Whom it’d Rain), which was awarded a prize and was staged by OTHAC in 1963. The play deals with life in a rural community which suffers from drought; something that could be interpreted as divine punishment for the unfair and non-brotherly acts of the members of the community. The play was also staged by THOC in 2007.
Pitsillides was the one who wrote the script for the first series aired by RIK, Katothkion tis Madaris (On The Lower Side Of Madari) in 1969. The popular playwright was endowed with the gift of creating vivid characters and pithy comic scenes that contain elements of farce. Pitsillides also wrote the comedy Ospollate arkodinamen (Thank God We Became Rich) which was staged under the title O Sympetheros Athanassis (In-law Athanassis), probably on demand of the comic actor Nikos Pantelides who played the part of Athanassis at the performance of the Thiasos Geliou (Laughter Troupe) in 1969. The play was also staged by THOC in the summer of 2006, in honour of the playwright. Greatly successful were also the three comedies staged by Vladimiros Kafkarides with the Organismos Mousikou Theatrou (Musical Theatre Organization) in 1969 [Gyron gyron tis Madaris (Around Madari), Eipen to nai I Andrianou (Andrianou Said Yes) and Vourate n’armasoumen ton Firfirin (Hurry To Have Firfiri Married)]. These plays follow a recipe for success with forms and stereotypical situations.
In 1970 Pitsillides presented a drama after several comedies; Touti i gi einai diki mas (This Land Is Ours) deals with the residents of a village who were forced to leave their homeland due to improvident development in their area. Three years later, the official theatre of Cyprus, THOC, staged the playwright’s awarded play Theano. The play deals with the use of dynamite for fishing, the controversies and ethical dilemmas that arose and led to discord among the members of a fish village. In 1990 THOC staged Klironomoi (Heirs), a rather didactic play. The other two plays written by Pitsillides and staged by THOC draw on Cypriot history; his drama Sta egata tis gis (In the Depths of Earth, 1984) deals with the strike of miners in 1948, it is a social, political and judicial drama, whereas in Aikaterini Cornaro (1994) Pitsillides is inspired thematically by the historical figure of Cornaro, queen of Cyprus. THOC has honoured Pitsillides more than any of the other playwrights, having staged six times plays of his. The Satiriko Theatro staged, in two versions (1990 and 1998), the comedy Tofalos o Klonaritis (Tofalos from Klonari village), which is a light satire on the social and political life in Cyprus after 1974.
Almost all of Pitsillides’ plays belong to the literary genre of ethographia, enriched with elements of social issues and sometimes having a didactic tone. The playwright, whose works made an impact on the audience, mainly studied aspects of the country’s recent past.
Michalis Pasiardes has mainly excelled as a poet, having written several poetry books and received state awards for some of them. His work is imbued with idiosyncratic lyricism; the conception is genuine, theatrical and poetic at the same time. As far as the themes are concerned, he draws his material from the Cypriot tradition and everyday life of people, with wisdom and sensitivity. He is aware of theatrical codes and he easily creates dramatic tension. Pasiardes is a master of the Cypriot dialect, being aware of its wealth and the layers formed over the years. Only one of his plays is written in Modern Greek, O Theseas stin koilia tou Minotavrou (Theseus in the Minotaur’s Abdomen).
He made his debut in the theatre with an early play, Giallourou (The Blue-Eyed Girl), in a performance by Neo Theatro in 1968. The play had already been presented on RIK radio in 1965. The idea of the play derives from the poem “I Gialloura” written by the dialectical poet Demetres Lipertis. It is a pastoral romance, whose simple charm, though, is converted into virtue by gifted Pasiardes.
To neron tou Dropi (The Snake’s Water) is the second Cypriot play staged by THOC in 1974 with great success. The structure of the play resembles that of a film: multi-character indoor scenes alternate with shorter street scenes with a few characters that are inserted to reinforce the play’s dynamics. The play deals with water scarcity; the management of water is the cause for conflict in the village which results in a random victim being hit, the most innocent member of the community. It is, actually, about the battle between good and evil in a traditional society. THOC presented also Pasiardes’ plays Sta homata tis Mesarkas (In The Land Of Mesarka, 1979), To gatanin (The Braid, 1985) and T’ alonia mas stous pano mahalades [Our Threshing-floors In The Upper Neighbourhoods), 1994]. Several of his works were presented on television and the radio by RIK.
Of the abovementioned plays, the most important is his episodic play To gatanin (The Braid), which I consider as one of the most inspired moments in Cypriot dramaturgy. The play consists of nine independent scenes, which are, though, internally coherent in terms of the themes and motifs. The play is characterized by an economy of scenes and words, treading on the edge of minimalism. The two last snapshots of the play combine the old world of Cyprus –with the dogmas, inescapable poverty and its commitment to social inflexibility– with the subversive events of the 1974 coup and invasion. The characters suffer from poverty, the blows of life and also the dilemmas between desires and social norms.
Michalis Pasiardes’ plays make the most of Cyprus’ thriving tradition in ethographia, but they are far from being characterized as quaint. Thanks to his experienced knowledge of local tradition, the insightful observation of lower-class people, theatre instinct, the effective theatre use of the Cypriot dialect, his poetic filter and his capacity of abstraction, Cypriot dramaturgy broadens its horizons and is enriched with plays that transcend realism and permeate poetry.
From Cyprus’ Independence up to the foundation of THOC in 1971, many made their debut in the field of purely entertaining theatre: a local species of comedy in the manner of ethographia, musical comedy, revue and political satire. Among these, Markos Georgiou, Achilleas Lymbourides, Sotos Oreites, Anthos Rodines, Savvas Savvides, Michalis Kyriakides, Demetres Papademetres, Andreas Potamites. Some of the abovementioned playwrights have written a large number of plays: at least six of Markos Georgiou’s plays were staged in the 1960s, while Sotos Oreites wrote or co-wrote dozens of comedies and revues.
However, rather rarely appear plays that experiment in form or dramas that deal with contemporary themes and even comedies that transcend ethographia or satirize modern life, without being bound by the timely nature of revues. We will now refer to those playwrights who challenge themselves to different forms and themes and are more open to new horizons.
In Panos Ioannides’ plays the history of Cyprus constitutes not only a subject of study but it also provides him with the opportunity to make an implicit reference to the present. Onesilus and Peter I were staged by THOC in 1981 and 1990 respectively. The one-act play Gregory, a well-written realistic play with ethical dilemmas about the liberation struggle of 1955-1959, was staged by the Theatre of RIK in 1970. His plays Dry Martini, Ta xaderfia (The Cousins) and I valitsa (The Suitcase) deal with more recent history.
The skillful use of irony and satire by Ioannides in his prose writings is also a component of some of his plays, such as To banio (The Bath) which was staged by THOC in 1978. To banio deals with the obsessions of the main character, his enviable social status and his unrestrained life which he tries to clear himself of. His play Leontios and Smyrna, written in 2005 but not staged up to now, is extremely sarcastic, featuring a shrewd hostess and her corrupted guests who demonstrate their immorality, while dressed in costumes of another era, equally corrupted. Ioannides observes current reality in Cyprus from the distorted perspective of parable and allegory. He experiments with form; he is not constrained by realism as far as both concept and dialogue are concerned; on the contrary, he incorporates elements of the Theatre of the Absurd into his dramaturgy, which are distinct in his early play O anthropos apo ti Salina (The Man From Salina, 1962), in Eggastrimythoi (Ventriloquists – Peiramatiki Skini (Experimental Stage), 1974) and less in To banio, while his comedy Pygmalion and Galatea (ETHOS, 1965) includes elements of surrealism. Panos Ioannides generally writes in the Modern Greek. The language in Eggastrimythoi is peculiar, with one of the heroes being Turkish who speaks Greek awkwardly.
We should also mention Eirena Ioannidou-Adamidou, the prolific playwright who has also written novels and regularly translates theatre plays. She has written 60 theatre plays, 37 of which have been presented mainly on the radio, on television and also at the theatre (in Cyprus, in Greece and elsewhere). Her plays I synantisi (The Encounter), I listeia (The Robbery) and I dexiosi (The Reception) were staged recently by THOC, the Anoihto Theatro (Open Theatre) and the Satiriko Theatro respectively. Her play I listeia was also staged in Athens, directed by Leonidas Loizides in 2000. Her play I synantisi attempts to explore the world of outcasts, while The Robbery deals with the loneliness of an old woman and the emotional emptiness of a young aspiring robber, incorporating a few elements of humour. I dexiosi is a parable which could be associated with Greek plays influenced by the Theatre of the Absurd.
After the 1974 coup and invasion, a large part of the corpus of new plays deals with the shock and traumas, as well as the differences, direct and indirect, caused in the Cypriot society. In this category belong –the list is indicative only– Panos Ioannides’ Ta xaderfia, Dry Martini and I valitsa, Giorgos Neophytou’s Ena kyriakatiko sketch (A Sunday Radio Play), Manoli…!, Full meze (Full course Mezes) and DNA, Rina Katselli’s Endoskopisi (Introspection or Galazia Falaina – Blue Whale), Maria Avraamidou’s Skliros aggelos (Harsh Angel), Andreas Koukkides’ Ledras and Regainis (Ledras str. and Rigainis str. corner) and, partly, Michalis Pasiardes’ To gatanin (The Braid). In terms of style, these plays feature realistic structure and dialogue, tinged with different hues of: Neophytou’s satire, Pasiardes’ abstraction, Katselli’s emphasis on confessional monologue and sometimes symbolic dimension. Also, the interest in older themes of the Cypriot history, the ancient or relatively recent one, grew again: Panos Ioannides’ Onesilus and Peter I, Rina Katselli’s Xeniteia (Estrangement), Christakis Georgiou’s Oi kalogeroi (The Monks), Michalis Pitsillides’ Aikaterini Cornaro (Catherine Cornaro), Andros Pavlides’ Ioannikios (Joannicius) and O Leontokardos stin Kypro (Lionheart in Cyprus), Giorgos Neophytou’s Stis Kyprou to vasileio (In the Kingdom of Cyprus). The last two plays include elements of satire and draw links between the past and modern political and social reality in Cyprus.
Maria Avraamidou is basically a playwright but she has also made her mark as an author of literature for children and youth. THOC has awarded the first prize to several of her works which have been staged by its Main Stage; among these, O skliros aggelos in 1985, I kravgi tou Agamemnona (The Outcry of Agamemnon) in 1987, Ta prasina akrogialia (The Green Seashores) in 1993. Her play To paramythi tis Triantafyllenis (Triantafylleni’s Fairytale) was staged by Children’s Stage of THOC. Her play I Stella Violanti den menei pia edo (Stella Violanti Does No Longer Live Here), whose heroine is a mature actress stuck in the past, was presented by the Theatro Ena (Theatre One) in 1992. Her play O skliros aggelos was also presented on television by the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (known in Greek by the acronym ERT) and performed by well-known Greek actors (Lykourgos Kallerges, Ersi Mallikenzou, and others). Other plays of hers are: Ena savvatokyriako stin exohi (A Weekend in the Countryside –THOC awarded it the second prize), I mousiki apo to diplano domatio (Music Coming From Next Door –THOC awarded it the second prize), I gria leaina sto xefoto tou dasous (Old Lioness in the Clearing in the Woods). The traumatic experiences of invasion and displacement of people constitute a basic theme; moreover, the playwright goes on to present their impact on the temperament of her heroes, with a special emphasis on that of women. Often heroes are trapped by their past and the lost opportunities for a better life and cannot overcome the loss of beloved persons.
Giorgos Neophytou made a successful debut in 1984 with his one-act play Ena kyriakatiko sketch (A Sunday Radio Play) presented on television by RIK. The play describes, with unprecedented sincerity, considering the period it was written, aspects of life in Cyprus as shaped after 1974. Action takes place in a retirement home, where different viewpoints are expressed about the current situation in Cyprus by the old women who live there and a housemaid, who works in a bourgeois house and visits them. The title clearly refers to the radio plays that first appeared in the 1950s and are still heard, with recurring motifs and themes.
Neophytou’s next play Mia aeropeiratia (A Hijacking) is connected with his play Ena kyriakatiko sketch (A Sunday Radio Play), as far as its theme and dramatis personae (there is a common character) are concerned. The second play incorporates elements of comedy, bitter probably, and portrays, through caricature exaggeration, the indifference to the country and the elitism of a class which got rich out of the fact that people were displaced in the South in 1974. Pretty relevant in terms of the questions raised is his play Full course mezes (THOC, 1989), in which three friends discuss real estate transactions, near the Green line border in Nicosia, but all react in a different way when a soldier gets shot just a few meters away.
In 1987, Neophytou’s play Stis Kyprou to vasileio, a satire of the contemporary Cypriot society, using a sort of historical disguise, was staged at the Nicosia Festival. The play was also staged by THOC in 1992; the production was also performed in Athens.
Giorgos Neophytou’s monologue Manoli...! is a jewel of the Cypriot theatre. The play is about an old woman who tells her story to her cat, which is the only company she has: her only son was killed during the 1974 coup but the culprits went unpunished. The one-act play was first staged by London’s Cypriot community theatre, Theatro Technis (The Arts Theatre), in 1987. In Cyprus the play was presented for the first time on television by RIK in 1988 and then by THOC in 1990. Manoli...! was also staged in Athens where both the play and Despina Bebedeli’s performance were acclaimed by the critics. The monologue, adapted for a chamber opera with the music of Vassos Argyrides, was also performed in German cities. It is the most often staged Cypriot play, whose reputation extends beyond the limits of the island.
Neophytou employs satire but he also examines the changes in society and political attitudes and the shaping of social phenomena in Cyprus. He does not hesitate to raise a point on the political taboos of the Cypriot society. His new play DNA was staged on October 14, 2010 by the Satiriko Theatro and presented within the framework of the Cyprus Theatre Week in Athens. The main characters are the wife and son of a missing man whose bones were found.
The Society of Cypriot Playwrights made an effort to promote Cypriot plays at the end of the 1970s with Theatriko Panorama (Theatrical Panorama). They actually organized events which included the performance of one-act plays, as part of Nicosia Festival. In this attempt, which lasted four consecutive summers, many plays were staged, among which, plays by Kyros Rossides, Leonidas Malenes, Andreas Antoniades, Loula Georgiadou, Mikis Nikitas and by some of the playwrights mentioned above.
THOC, during its 39 years of existence, presented 40 plays by 22 Cypriot playwrights. Cypriot plays have also been staged by independent, sponsored theatre groups, more often over the last years, after the implementation of a plan by the Theatre Development Department of THOC which provides additional financial support for the production of Cypriot plays. Satiriko Theatro has also staged, among others, five plays by Andreas Koukkides (a mixture of ethographia and satire, in some cases also raising questions about local politics). Limassol Theatrical Development Company (ETHAL) has also staged one of Koukkides’ plays. Eight plays written by Nearchos Ioannou have been staged so far by the Theatro Ena, ETHAL and Theatro Anemona (Anemone Theatre). Also, Ioannou’s play Hen’s Night was staged in October 2010 by ETHAL. These plays attempt to boldly satirize Cypriot everyday life and do sometimes include trenchant caustic humour, but they often base their success on sexual references and exaggerated farcical situations.
Many other playwrights have seen their work staged in Cyprus over the past few years. Evridiki Pericleous-Papadopoulou has written poetic theatre that contains existential and metaphysical elements. Some of her plays have been staged by Theatro Ena (Feggari min klais / Moon Don’t Cry, 1996) and by THOC (To allo miso tou ouranou / The Other Half Of The Sky, 2003). Theatro Ena also staged Golgia by Maria Marmara, which, in terms of style, belongs to the previous generation of plays as it deals with the 1974 events and their aftermath. The play was awarded a prize by THOC in 2009. Other playwrights whose works have been staged are Christos Zanos, Babis Anagiotos, Kyriakos Efthymiou, and Giannis Agisilaou. Many other playwrights have made their debut on stage with only one play or their plays have been presented only on television or the radio in Cyprus.
We can finally –I may say, at last– talk about a new generation of playwrights who have challenged themselves over the last five years. They differ from the previous generation of playwrights who presented their plays after 1974 and who dealt with themes drawn from the events of the period. There has been a fresh approach in terms of form and content. They experiment with new forms, in a fragmentary and allusive style, while they deal with current issues which are not necessarily connected with the themes that emerged after the 1974 events.
Playwright Antonis Georgiou, also a prose writer, made his debut with three monologues that comprise the Agapimeno mou plyntirio (My Beloved Washing Machine), a play awarded by THOC and staged in 2007, while his play I nosos (The Disease) was also staged in 2010. These plays deal with loneliness and prejudice and take a political dig at contemporary world.
Adonis Florides, a film director, wrote two plays that satirize life in modern Cyprus, with exaggerated identifiable social types, entitled YAHARI TOUHARI (For Harry’s Shake) and Pes ta se mena (Tell Me). Both plays were staged by Omada Theatrou Epi Theseos, based in Limassol (Attack/In Position Theatre Group) in 2006 and 2009 respectively.
Charalambos Giannou is another notable playwright, awarded by the Greek National Theatre for his play Peftontas apo tis skales (Falling Down The Stairs) in 2008, which was presented on a staged reading; also, he received acclaim for his play Pente chtypimata sti vrohi (The Look of Love) in a contest held by THOC in 2009. His first play, which I read a few years ago while working as a dramaturge for THOC, entitled Poios einai o ehthros (Who’s The Enemy) is rather dark and symbolic and deals with the worries and feelings emerged from the opening of barricades in Cyprus in 2003.
Pantelis Georgiou has only written, as far as I know, Ioulieta ton skyvalon (Juliette of the Trash), staged by the Theatro Versus (Versus Theatre) in Limassol, in 2007; as a dramaturge, he also cooperates with contemporary dance groups.
In conclusion, from the 1960s onwards many plays have been written in Cyprus. Most plays follow the local version of ethograhia, but some of them are a landmark in Cypriot theatre as they have played a major role in fostering and developing playwriting on the island. Cypriot dramaturgy takes timid steps and moves back and forth. However, there are some notable plays scattered throughout this corpus, which are marked by the playwrights’ personal style and deal with bolder and more contemporary themes. 1974 is a landmark in Cypriot history and for twenty years, at least, plays dealt with the historical events and their aftermath that have scarred Cyprus and its people.
Over the last few years, plays have been written that deal with reality in the 21st century, incorporating existential and recurring themes, whereas playwrights have experimented with form. I believe that next to the most intellectually restless playwrights of the 1960s and 1974 generations, there are now young playwrights of the 2000 generation, let’s say, who, getting mature, could boost Cypriot theatre by writing vivid, modern plays. Cypriot dramaturgy is in search of its new identity.
The lecture was delivered on 12th October 2010, at Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens within the framework of Cyprus Theatre Week held by the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute in cooperation with the Hellenic Centre and the Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus in Athens-Spiti tis Kyprou.