Dionysios SolomosHymn to Liberty
And the mouths uttered what the heart felt
Ο καθείςκαι τα όπλα του
Greek Art Theatre Karolos Koun
The Art Theatre (Theatro Technis) was founded in 1942 -the darkest years of the Nazi occupation- by Karolos Koun, setting as its aims the promotion of new Greek playwrights, the foundation of a Drama School with its own highly individual style, the familiarization of the Greek public with all the major foreign playwrights, both classical and modern, the staging of Ancient Drama. Its principal characteristics were and still are: collective work, theatrical training and common artistic aims.
The Art Theatre nurtured a multitude of young Greek playwrights, whose work was a tremendous incentive to Koun and his students. Some of the Greek playwrights who have appeared on the Art Theatre’s stage since 1942 are: G. Sevastikoglou, I.Kambanellis, D. Kehaidis, E.Haviara, G. Armenis, D.Litinaki, L.Anagnostaki, M.Laina a.o.
The Art Theatre has acquainted the Greek public with the works of Williams, Miller, Lorca, Brecht, Ionesco, Albee, Weiss, Pinter, Arrabal, Beckett, Gombrowicz, Fo , Genet, Frisch, Ruzante, Erdmann, Rouzewicz, Rodriquez, Straous and many others. The Art Theatre has always been a place where every classical and contemporary trend of the world theatre interweaves and interacts with the trends and concerns prevalent in Greece, resulting in a distinctively Greek cultural identity.
As from 1957, the Art Theatre entered the field of Ancient Drama. Its pionnering interpretation of the Ancient Drama soon brought the company worldwide recognition and fame: Plutus, Birds, The Persians, Frogs, Lysistrata, Oedipus Tyrannus, the Acharnians, Seven against Thebes, the Bacchae, Peace, The Oresteia, Electra, Promotheus Bound…
Major international festivals have celebrated and honoured the Art theatre and its life’s work. There have been four memorable participations in the Theatre of Nations with “Birds” in 1962 (first prize), “the Persians” in 1965, “Peace” and “Oedipus Tyrannus” (first prize) in 1979 and “the Acharnians” in 1982. There have also been extensive and triumphant tours and participations in the international festivals worldwide.
In 1954 it took up permanent residence at the small theatre-in-the-round (seating 220) at the Orpheus Building . Finding it necessary to create a second theatre in Athens in order to absorb its many actors and enlarge its public, the Art Theatre founded the “Laiki Skini” at the Veaki Theatre, where it operated for a decade, 1975-85. In 1985, wishing to honor Karolos Koun, the state helped the Art Theatre found a second, permanent theatre, seating 250, in Frynichou Street in Plaka under the name of “Theatre Karolos Koun”.
In the eight decades of its existence, the Art theatre has remained loyal to its initial identity, goals and aesthetic orientation, convinced that this is the essence of its cultural contribution and what may be called its ideology.