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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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Part V: Afterword


As shown, in the period under analysis, the reception of the German theater in its multiple forms had to accomplish a considerable function which was estimated as the instrument of innovation of the Greek theater. This happened through natural persons, as well as in the form of the organization of the Royal Theater and the creation of the director’s position, through institutions transferred that defined management models. Moreover, German theatrical plays, scripts of direction instructions, decorations, and props were transferred. The German theatrical forms and elements were received in terms through which they could provide a possible strategy towards the solution of specific problems which were interesting to the Greek theater. The aesthetic function of the performances shows that where there is an interest towards the revitalization of Greek theater, this is realized in a productive way through the appropriation of the “German”. Moreover, the Greek theater became an important vehicle for imagining and creating a version of nationality through the representation of the German theater, in a period where the formation of the concept of the Greek nation was still under negotiation.

During the second half of the 19th century, the interest and the admiration of Greek intellectuals for German performances of ancient Greek dramas contributed to the transfer of the historical theatrical productions by directors of the German court theaters that was parallel to an effort to connect modern Greece with the ancient one and, as a result, to provide confirmation about the continuity...

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