Theatre calls Athens: Representing the multiple facets of a changing world

The paper focuses on the contemporary theatrical landscape of Athens, aiming to highlight the various ways in which theatre encapsulates the new reality that emerged in the city during the early 21st century. At the same time, it examines how theatre can constitute a vehicle of sociopolitical intervention, effectively recalling the ancient Greek view on the role and function of theatre.

The global economic crisis, which disproportionately affected Greece as the weak link of the Eurozone, combined with the great influx of migrants from developing countries , created a new, dystopian reality that led to tremendous changes in citizens’ lifestyles and the urban landscape at large.

Adverse working conditions, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, rise of violence, xenophobia, racism, and an overall crisis of humanitarian values comprise aspects of a new order of things which was met with a strong and concerted   reaction by theatre artists.

Outdoor performances were held in various neighborhoods around the city, attracting a multicultural audience and inviting them to reflect on issues of national identity and culture, mutuality and tolerance to otherness and difference. Several theatre compa-nies emerged, drawing material from the surrounding reality and the “here and now” of the city and urging citizens to develop a more refined realization and management of their problems.

Simultaneously, this new sense of urgency pushed artists towards experimenting with more alternative theatre practices (devised methods, site-based and site-specific performances, installations, happenings, to name a few), lending a new character to the theatrical life of the city, one that is exceptionally lively, constantly renewed, and di-verse in terms of its aesthetic and artistic pursuits.

In this paper, representative examples of performances linked to this new reality of Athens will be presented, accompanied by audiovisual material. These examples will hopefully serve as a springboard for reflecting upon the function of theatre amid an ever-changing and rapidly transforming world, in which the demand for the respect of human life becomes increasingly imperative.