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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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2. Repertoire Constitution, Translation, and Reception

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2.1 The Literarization of the Theater

For the Royal Theater to be considered an important facet of the nation’s life that would give greater acceptance to the palace, it was essential to define specific dramas to stage. The art of literature was considered to be the major form of written expression and a confirmation of the identity of the national culture, due to the influence that Romanticism had, as it contributed to the perception that the writer is a genius superior to skill and his work offers strong senses, emotions, and feelings.433 Taking this into account, theater in its high quality was considered to serve the mediation of dramatic texts in performance art, and this could offer theatrical education to the citizens and create a nation out of the audience. Thus, legitimate theater could be identified with the canonization of certain texts, considered to be of high culture and this practice sought to influence people and could inhibit and define the legitimate moral institution.434

While creative writers were exploring and exploiting poetry and literary prose, theatrical dramas were not considered to be of high quality, because they only offered patriotic ideas confirming the unbroken continuity of Hellenism and the rise of the Great Idea. Greece lacked its own drama tradition in the thematization of modern Greek society. In the repertoire of Greek theatrical companies in the 19th century, patriotic plays were particularly popular. The poetic and theatrical play Writing Contests, especially the Voutsinaios (since...

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