Workshops

The Transmission Workshops in 2000 were conducted by the Education Department of the National Theatre of London. It was a project funded by the EU and the objective here was to increase the employability of actors in society. A team of ‘experts’ was called upon to conduct workshops to artists from Europe on areas not directly connected to the arts. These areas were titled, ‘Third (3rd) Sector’ areas and included, prisons, rehab centres, hospitals, museums, business environments or any other environment beyond the stage, television and cinema. The workshops in London were a theoretical insight to the above-mention areas and as a follow up to these workshops, each participant had a placement position to apply the theory to practice.
My placement position led me to Post-war Belgrade were I conducted theatre workshops in 10 institutions to homeless orphans of all ages ranging from pre-school through to college students. The workshops I have conducted since 2001 in Belgrade have opened an entirely new perception for me about theatre and my involvement. Sharing knowledge and experience with others has become my main objective as an artist and has led me to new paths in my career and a greater appreciation of my art.

The following report titled ‘Transmitting in Belgrade’, documents this experience.

In July of 2003 I conducted a theatre workshop to students from the United States who participated in the ‘Playing to the Gods’ course offered by the Hydrama Theatre and Arts Centre in Greece. Since then I conducted workshops every summer to students, teachers, actors (professionals and amateurs) who would travel to the island of Hydra in Greece to participate in the summer courses that were offered by the centre. These courses offered both a theoretical and practical approach to Ancient Greek Drama and culminated in a presentation and performances of the work.
The Acting to the Gods course was a 2-week intensive acting course in which a play was staged in its entirety at the end of the 2 weeks.
ACTive LEARNing. Theatre in Education courses were also conducted to teachers from abroad. Theatre principles and exercises were used in order to gain a better understanding of how these techniques can assist teachers in the classroom.

Refer to the link below for more information.
www.hydrama.gr

In 2010 I was instructed by my director at the time, Mr Theodoros Terzopoulos of the Attis Theatre Company to conduct workshops with a group of migrant primary school children. The children attended a multicultural school in Athens which was known for its high percentage of migrant students. The objective here was to work with the children and present a text titled, ‘Furtive Life’. The text was written by Thanasis Alevras, a collegue of mine from the Attis Theatre Company. This alarming text, abstract and minimal in form became even more powerful from the mouths of the young 5th and 6th grade children. The performance was staged as a ‘lesson’ that the children deliver to the audience who would be seated in the small student desks. The text was delivered in both Greek and their native languages. Having less than 4 months of contact with them twice a week and only for 90 minutes per session, the amazing result achieved by these young thespians in their performance of this text, was an experience I will cherish for years to come.
Below are two excerpts of the text that have been translated to English

Take my hand Cut me I’m going out
My malady Break me I’m coming in
make way Open I lose
lay the game out Such freedom
make room for me do what with
stretching out darkness I become empty
behind the door Take me out
the night is trauma We are out
dawn again The feast begins
hope again Door closed
your first caress Useless sleep
behind the door White tickets
now you sense me Go where now
behind the door You then elsewhere
the feast begins Me then you
wait for me to come
amidst empty carriages
Standing before doors
locked from inside
and the cop prostate
No-one inside
With no oxygen

Furtive Life

By Thanasis Alevras

Ειδικό Κατάστημα Κράτησης Νέων Αυλώνα
(Avlona Special Detention Centre for Youth)

In October of 2010 I started a voluntary theatre workshop program in the Avlona Special Detention Centre for Youth. This prison is a facility for young males aged between 15 to 21 years of age. My intention was to enter the prison and collaborate with an existing network which in this case would be the primary school that operates inside the prison walls. From the primary school and working with the Principal of the school Mr. Nikos Armenis, I would select a final group of 20 inmates who would be the first to participate in the workshop. The objective was a systematic approach to these young males, using theatre exercises in order to gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their predicament. Soon enough this theatre workshop became a hub of classes and performances including dance, acrobatics, and capoeira. In the 3 years that I ran the workshop, we staged 3 productions, performed over 20 times inside the prison to visitors from Athens and even travelled via police escort to other prisons to perform. These were the Korydallos Adult Male Prison in Athens, The Korydallos Psychiatric Prison and the Thiva Detention Centre for Women.

The link bellow is from the prison website and has photos from rehearsals from both starting point and the return

http://www.ekkna.net/index.php/testtest/54-politistika/theatriki-omada

Epanodos is an NGO that is set up to accommodate the needs of released prisoners in Athens Greece. It is the only one of its kind in Athens and primarily would assist released prisoners with housing, employment, food and transport. In mid-2013 I was approached by this organisation to conduct theatre workshops for its members. After several discussions with the people of Epanodos regarding the aims and objectives of the workshops, we began a 3 month workshop from October to December. The workshop culminated in performance and is now an ongoing workshop offered by the organisation.

One of the venues that the inmates of the Avlona theatre company performed in was the Korydallos Psychiatric Prison. During the contact I had with the Director of the prison Mrs. Gerou, she asked me if I could assist them with a workshop they wanted to conduct for some of the inmates. I leaped at the opportunity and agreed to conduct a theatre workshop for a selected group. The workshop was conducted in conjunction with the social services office. The interesting aspect of this workshop is that the participants would bring their own written material and the small scale presentation at the end was all their own work. The presentation consisted of poetry, song and drama and was titled, ‘Christine’s Party’.

One of the many projects run at the Northland Youth Centre is the Diversionary Program. It is run for a group of high risk youth who come in to the centre once a week. This specific project was co-created by the participants and was about a good friend the boys had lost in a car accident. They decided to create a DVD dedication about him and offer this to his family as a sign of respect and remembrance. Through this creative process the boys come in touch with their feelings about their loss and deal with the reality of life and the choices we make.

Corrections Victoria

In Sync (2014) is a theatre based workshop conducted in a local facility in Victoria. It is designed to engage prisoners who experience barriers to communication. The workshop focusses on the participant’s ability to work in groups and increase their self-esteem and confidence levels.

Oakland University
This one day intensive workshop dealt with some of the ‘contemporary’ themes in Greek Tragedy and examined an approach to them via a physical process. Themes such as loss and fate were considered, as we become more aware of global issues which affect us all. Students from the theatre and dance department from Oakland University participated in this workshop.

Workshop Flyer


Belgrade - Hydrama - Attis - Avlona Prison - Athens Juvenile Court - Epanodos Org - Korydallos Psychiatric Prison - Northland Youth Center - Corrections Victoria - Oakland University

Acting

  • THEATRE

    2015 ‘Antigone’, by Sophocles at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia
    Watch the video
    2012 ‘Ajax’, by Timberlake Wertenbaker
    2011 & 2012 ‘Maouzer’, by Heiner Muller Attis Theatre Company
    2010 – 2011 ‘Prometheus Bound’, by Aeschulus Attis Theatre Company
    2009 – 2012 ‘Maouzer’, by Heiner Muller Attis Theatre Company
    2008 ‘The Depths’, by M.Gorky National Theatre of Greece
    2007 ‘The Idiot’, by F. Dostoyevsky National Theatre of Greece.
    2006 ‘The Gaze of the Dark Man’ by Ignacio Del MoralNational Theatre of Greece.
    2005 – 2006 ‘Dreamplay’, by A. Strindberg National Theatre of Greece.
    2004 2005 ‘Molliere’ by M. Boulgakov National Theatre of Greece.
    2004 ‘Greek Poetry of the 20th century’ II. National Theatre of Greece.
    2003 ‘Medea’, by Euripides National Theatre of Greece.
    2002 – 2003 ‘Love’s Labours Lost’, by W.Shakespeare National Theatre of Greece
    2001 ‘Hercules Enraged’, by Euripides Attis Theatre Company
    2001 ‘BASH – Latterday plays’, by N.Labute ‘Players Theatre Company’
    2000 ‘Hercules Enraged’, by Euripides Attis Theatre Company
    1999 ‘Twelfth Night’, by W.Shakespeare Actors Theatre Company
    1998 The Merry Wives of Windsor’, by W.Shakespeare
    1996 ‘King Lear’, by W.Shakespeare both by the Kostas Kazakos Theatre Company
  • THEATRE AUSTRALIA

    1995 ‘Goodnight Margaret’, written by G.Stavrou produced by the Cretan Community of Melbourne
    1995 ‘The Rembetes’, written by R. Johnston performed at the Playbox Theatre
    1994 ‘Run Heir Run’ , written by B.Georgarakis a ‘Thiasos Parikia’ production
    1994 ‘Each to their own’, written by K.Makrigianakis an Independent Theatre production
    1993 ‘Mother Dearest’, written by K.Teo an Experimental Theatre production
    1993 ‘Bertold’s Capers’, written by G. Skourtis a ‘Thiasos Parikia’ production
    1992 ‘Mixed Cultures’, written by K.Teo an Experimental Theatre production
    1992 ‘Zorba the Greek’, written by N.Kazantzakis a ‘Thiasos Parikia’ production
    1992 ‘Supernatural Toddler’, adaptation by J.Chrisoulis a ‘Laiko Theatro’ production
    1991 ‘Preferably Gardenias’, written by S. Kathariou a Greek Theatre of Australia production
    1990 ‘Your death is my living’, written by A.Sakellariou a Greek Theatre of Australia production
    1990 ‘Gold & Tin’, written by N.Tsiforou & P.Vasiliadi produced by the Union of Greek-Egyptians of Australia and the Middle-East.
    1990 ‘Lucky Parikia’, a Greek Theatre of Australia production(a satirical insight of the Greek Community in Australia)
    1989 ‘Sunset in the Islands’, presented by the Greek Cultural Association with the patronage of the Thessalonica Sister City Relationship
    1988 ‘How‘re ya Parikia’, a Greek Theatre of Australia production (Based on the lives of Greek immigrants in Australia)
    1988 ‘Mormolis’, written by Rainer Hachfeld produced by ‘Filiki Players’
    1984 ‘The I.D’, written by A.Loukakis produced by ‘Laiki Skiki’
  • FILM

    2007 ‘Athens – Konstatninople’ by. N. Panagiotopoulos
    1990 Nirvana Street Murder’, director: Aleksi Vellis
    1988 ‘Ricky & Pete’, director: Nadia Tass
    1988 ‘TheLight horsemen’, director: Simon Wincer
    1988 Evil Angels’, director: Fred Schepisi
    1988 Mullaway’, Ukiyo Films
    1988 ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams’, director: P. Amenta Boulevard Films
    1986 ‘The Humpty Dumpty Man’, director: P.J Hogan
    1984 ‘Doherty’, director: Chris Warner Open Channel productions
  • TELEVISION

    2008 Υπέροχα Πλάσματα’, ALPHA
    2002 ‘Είσαι το ταίρι μου’, MEGA
    2001 ΣκιέςστοΠεριστύλιο,ΕΤ 1
    1990 Embassy’, Grundy Organisation ABC TV
    1988 ‘AlltheWay’, Crawford Productions GTV9
    1986 Nancy Wake’, HSV 7
    1986 ‘TheFlyingDoctors’, Crawfords Productions HSV7
    1985 HendersonKids’, Crawfords Productions ATV10
    1985 ‘Neighbors’, Grundy Organisation HSV7 & ATV10
  • THEATRE STUDIES

    1995 – 99 Drama School of ‘Tzeni Karezi’ Theatre, Athens Greece
    1989 – 90 Students of Strasberg Theatre Institute of Australia (S.O.S)Transpersonal Acting Workshop. Introductory and Advanced courses

Directing

HYDRAMA 2003 – 2013
Acting to the Gods.

The Acting to the Gods course at Hydrama was a 2 week intensive workshop with actors and examined Ancient Greek Tragedy in a modern perspective. Utilizing minimal sets and costumes, the focus of these performances was achieving a greater sense of ‘everything beyond the individual and in sync with the ensemble’. A group approach to these plays was adopted and the chorus remained the focus. The following slide-shows are from some of the presentations of these workshops to an audience of about 100 people in an outdoor amphi-theatre on the island of Hydra.

You-tube videos/slide-shows

Playing to The Gods

The contact time with students in this workshop was limited to under a week. Just enough time to work on the ensemble element of chorus work with them and gain a basic understanding of performing in an outdoor amphi-theatre.
The scenes we worked on were presented at the end of the course and included excerpts from the plays including,
Prometheus Bound, Iphigenia in Aulis, Trojan Women, Medea, Oedipus Rex, Hercules Enraged, Agamemnon, Antigone and others…

Ornithopolis 2008

Adapted and Directed the Birds by Aristophanes for the STC 2 theatre company in Sacremento California.
In 2008 I was invited by the Director of the Sacramento Theatre Company, Ms Peggy Shannon, to direct a comedy for the STC2 group. I adapted the text of The Birds by Aristophanes and took good friend and musician Petros Georadjis with me on this project. The rehearsals and the show was staged in 10 days.

Avlona Special Detention Centre for Youth 2010-2013

The workshops with the inmates of the Avlona Special Detention Centre for Youth, led to three performances. My objective before I left Greece to return to Australia was to complete a triptych in which the inmates would move from introductory to advanced physical and narrative theatre. This was accomplished within this 3 year period however one must take into consideration that the contact time with the group was limited to once a week at the start to twice a week during the time of the performances.

The 1st performance was titled Starting Point as it was indeed just that. This was their first attempt to express themselves as individuals and as a group. Their first audience ever was a group of 120 of their fellow inmates who watched as the theatre group went to work during a Christmas event in 2010. This was only 6 weeks after I had started working with them and after initial mis-comprehension about what they were witnessing passed over, the 120 inmates cheered and clapped as the performance went on. One of the most interesting questions asked by another prisoner to someone from within the theatre company that performed was, ‘What happened to you up there?

The following video is a rehearsal of Starting Point which was part of a documentary on National Greek Television on the Avlona Prison.

Starting Point 2011

The following video is a video trailer of the second performance by the Avlona prison theatre company. The Performance is titled The Return and deals with recidivism and the issues surrounding release and incarceration.
 

The Return 2013 video


 

The 3rd performance was titled Testimonials. This performance was based on recollections of childhood memories by the inmates. There was no physical element as in the two previous performances but purely a solo narrative by each of the inmates into memories of the past. Each inmate would tell the audience three stories from different times of their lives. So in actual fact the audience would see a journey from early childhood to present day for each member of the group. Even though my work with this group had a prominent physical element to it, in this last performance, just hearing the inmates tell their personal stories, and getting closer to their lives was one of the most rewarding moments of this workshop process.

The theme song to the 3rd performance titled Testimonials is by well known local Artist Akis Theotokatos aka JAMOAN.
Like the first time’ performed by Jamoan

Christine’s Party

The approach here was totally different to the Avlona Prison workshops. Due to the fact that most of the members of the group were under medication and had limited physical potential, the workshop focussed more on achieving a cohesive group dynamic from which personal moments were highlighted. The inmates here wrote their own poems, songs, and even theatre pieces which would become the material for our presentation. One of the original songs sung during the workshops was titled Christine and was sung by Georgos who also had been released by the time of the presentation. However, being completely team focussed he returned to the prison to rehearse and finally perform with the rest of the group. The presentation was accordingly titled, Christine’s Party, as it was this commitment that we all focussed on and valued, and our presentation was always considered a celebration i.e Party, since we managed to achieve so much in so little time.

The poem below is also by one of the original members of the group who started the workshop but was also released during the workshop process. He generously left the poem with the group and the remaining members recited the poem at the end of their performance.

THANK-YOU!

Thank-you for being kind
Thank-you for being blind
To all my faults and all my sins
The world to me it means.
Since you are with me always
From the days early dawn
To the nights first light
You are always with me
Because of you I have life
There is no wrong, there is no strife
Because you are my love, my joy
And you don’t treat me as a toy
Thank-you for loving me
Without you I could not be
Thank-you from the bottom of my heart
I promise that we will never be apart.

Chris
2003

Exchanges

The members of this group were released prisoners who attend various workshops the organisation offers. This was the first time a theatre workshop was offered to its members and was well received. Discussing the issues of re-integration with this group we managed to pin-point the key themes associated adapting and moving on after incarceration. One of the recurring issues that we noticed during the workshop was that in each improvisation meeting that occurred between people, each discussion that went on, each group that gathered together, an exchange was made and this exchange had a predominantly a monetary element to it. This therefore became our focus point – How our everyday lives have become moments of ‘monetary exchange’, even when we are talking about human values such as friendship, self-esteem, love, justice, understanding. Small two-handers were staged that depicted everyday situations and circumstances yet there was something disturbing about these exchanges.

Furtive Life by Thanasis Alevras

In 2010 I was instructed by my director at the time, Mr Theodoros Terzopoulos of the Attis Theatre Company to conduct workshops with a group of migrant primary school children. The children attended a multicultural school in Athens which was known for its high percentage of migrant students. The objective here was to work with the children and present a text titled, ‘Furtive Life’. The text was written by Thanasis Alevras, a collegue of mine from the Attis Theatre Company. This alarming text, abstract and minimal in form became even more powerful from the mouths of the young 5th and 6th grade children. The performance was staged as a ‘lesson’ that the children deliver to the audience who would be seated in the small student desks. The text was delivered in both Greek and their native languages. Having less than 4 months of contact with them twice a week and only for 90 minutes per session, the amazing result achieved by these young thespians in their performance of this text, was an experience I will cherish for years to come.

Below are two excerpts of the text that have been translated to English

Take my hand Cut me I’m going out
My malady Break me I’m coming in
make way Open I lose
lay the game out Such freedom
make room for me do what with
stretching out darkness I become empty
behind the door Take me out
the night is trauma We are out
dawn again The feast begins
hope again Door closed
your first caress Useless sleep
behind the door White tickets
now you sense me Go where now
behind the door You then elsewhere
the feast begins Me then you
wait for me to come
amidst empty carriages
Standing before doors
locked from inside
and the cop prostate
No-one inside
With no oxygen

Furtive Life
By Thanasis Alevras

The complete performance can be seen on the following You-tube link.

The Audition (2013) was the title to a devised piece of work by a group of young people who participated in the annual Youth Theatre Festival which was hosted by the Onasis Cultural Centre in Athens. The difference with this group as compared to others that participated is that they did not belong to the same school or theatre troupe. They did however share something in common. They were all under the supervision of the Athens Juvenile Court. The piece itself related to moments in their lives which resemble an audition but in their case, there is more on the line than just getting the part. Working with this group depicted clearly that overcoming the problems we are faced with in life through a creative process can make us grow as a person beyond anything we imagined we were capable of.


Hydrama - Sacramento Theatre Co - Attis and the Multicultural School of Athens - Avlona Prison - Epanodos - Korydallos Psychiatric Prison

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