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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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4. The Materialization of the Stagecraft

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The performances of the Royal Theater were produced with an unprecedented high level of technology. The agreements made by Stefanou in Germany and Vienna resulted in the design of the stage according to European standards. It was designed by the Austrian architectural painter Rudolf von Alt according to this of the Burgtheater and was made by iron, ordered by a steel company in Vienna. It had highly developed equipment including theatrical lighting, dimming, control, custom and complex stage effects equipment. Thus the construction of a stage according to European standards spanned the formative efforts for the development of Greece as a modern state and made it excel culturally to the eastern countries. In fact, the stage had a hydraulic machinery, with which complex scenes were available to be brought into view when needed, including dimming, control, and complex stage effects equipment, as well as theatrical lighting, manufactured by the German company Siemens & Halske. Similarly, the Court Theater in Munich and the Meiningen Theater were equipped with such an electric lighting system by the same company.550 This was a great innovation because, although since 1883 the gas and then the electric current had been introduced, most of the theaters were still illuminated by candles.

Because of the complexity of the technical equipment of the theater, the actor Christoforos Tavoularis was appointed as set designer, responsible to set the physical surrounding in which the action took place in each production, the scenery, the furniture, and the props....

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