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Being a "Balkanian" is nothing exceptional

10 April 2009 / 10:04:04  GRReporter
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The oldest Greek epos “The song of the dead brother” was adapted by director Sotiris Hadzakis, so it can be performed in five different languages and seen by all nations on the Balkans.

“I found about 300 varieties of the song “The song of the dead brother” on all five languages. There are wedding and funeral songs but all of them derive from this folk song. In our play, we a little bit of each one of them,” says Sotiris Hadzakis. The main goal is to encourage peaceful co-existence between our neighboring countries. “We are not interested in bringing back to life the old folklore,” he states.

The story-line of the song is present in the folklore of all Balkan countries. The most important thing is that the actors are not only from Greece, but also from Serbia, Albania, Romania and Bulgaria. Through this play the directors accomplishes his idea to unite the common characteristics of the national culture of all Balkan countries.

“Hadzakis is interested in the Balkans because during the Ottoman Empire, Bulgarians, Greeks, Romanians and Serbs were moving around the empire freely and their cultures mixed. We are 17 actors from all Balkan countries,” says Chris Radanov – Bulgarian actor, who is part of the play.

“The best thing about acting with people from so many different countries is that there is no racism. Because if you do not get to know foreign cultures, you have the feeling that yours is better. I can admit that when I came to Greece, I was racist even though I too was a foreigner. But when you start getting to know other cultures, you find out what is important to those people and at the same time what is the value of your own culture. You stop being a foreigner yourself,” admits the Bulgarian actor, who has been living in Greece for eight years.

“The song of the dead brother” is not a new project for Sotiris Hadzakis, because he has been working with folk songs from the Byzantine era for 15 years. This time he chose this song because “many Greek students study it and like it, probably because of it has a scary story-line. It tells the story of a mother, her nine sons and one daughter. One of the sons convinces his sister to marry a man from a foreign land. A little bit after the sister leaves her home, her nine brothers die from plague. The lonely mother is left to curse the death of her son. One day, he raises from the grave, invokes a horse and leaves, in order to bring back his sister. The birds on the road discuss the dead rider and his alive sister, who doesn’t know that her brother is dead. She finds out that something is not right but it is too late. She hugs her mother and both of them die.”

“Art brings people together,” stresses Hadsakis. “The fact that Albanians and Serbs are working together and not killing each other in Kosovo mean a lot.” The famous Romanian actress Maya Morgentern adds that “to be from the Balkans is not something negative. Quite the opposite – it is great and very exciting. We make art and do not judge – you are the ones who will judge us.”

The premiere of the play was on March 26th in “Karra” theatre in Athens and it will visit Sofia, Bucharest and Tirana in April. For the theatrical adaptation of “The dead Brother,” Sotiris Hadzakis uses parts of different Greek versions of the song from Athens, Crete, Thrace, Rhodes, Paros, Macedonia, Continental Greece, Ilia, Olymp, and Balkan versions from Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. The play also has folklore dances from Gortin, Mani, Propondita, Crete, Epirus, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. It also recites paragraphs from the Bible, the Book of Revelations, a poem by Lorca from Euripides’ “Hecuba,” etc. it also includes stories, funeral songs, and folk superstitions. All typical for a funeral songs and exclamations are presented on stage on five different languages.

The theatrical play “The Dead Brother” is performed by the Greek theatrical organization “Alekton” and the director is Sotiris Hadzakis. It is sponsored by the Onassis Foundation and supported by the Greek Culture Foundation in Bulgaria, the Greek Foreign Ministry and Global Finance.

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