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The Reception of German Theater in Greece

Establishing a Theatrical Locus Communis: The Royal Theater in Athens (1901-1906)

Michalis Georgiou

The author examines the vigorous reception of the German theater in Greece, a phenomenon that took place along with the process of establishing in Athens, in 1901 the Royal Theater. The multiple aesthetic, social and political forms of this phenomenon provided a "locus of contact" with the German culture and accomplished a function, regarded as the instrument for the development of the bourgeois theater in Greece. This happened through the work of theater practitioners and intellectuals, as well as through the transfer of institutions, theatrical plays, and scripts of direction instructions, decorations, and props. The performances staged were the iceberg in the process of this reception, as they provided a strategy toward the revitalization of the Greek theater, realized in a productive way.

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1. The Transfer of German Institutions

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1.1 The Establishment of the Royal Theater in Athens

The theatrical history of most European nations proves that they acquired National Theaters, worthy of its name, only when the establishment of a permanent theater in the nation’s capital had been achieved. If France boasts today of its truly prototypical and unique scene of Comedie Francaise, it owes this to the great monarch, Louis XIV, who definitely merged the house of muse of Corneille with Moliere’s. The numerous and prestigious theaters in Germany today are nothing more than descendants of the small but historical theater in Weimar, where the cultivated Duke Charles August gave really hegemonic hospitality to the genius of Goethe and Schiller; the fact that Italy, which mainly lacks a national theater, has in our days notable troupes, which although they wander from city to city and from country to country, they have members like Rossi and Salvini and Pezzana, is undeniably owed to the national Theater of Turin that had been their school house, as well as their starting point.241

Angelos Vlachos’ words mentioned above about main European theaters, in his speech given in 1885 to the philological association named “Parnassos”, published with the title About National Theater in the magazine Estia, appropriately characterized the prospects of Greek intellectuals in the last two decades of the 19th century for the improvement of theatrical life through establishing a national theater in Greece’s capital. President of “Parnassos” was the author Michail Lampros and honorary...

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