Returning to the Source of Ancient Hellenic Theatre
IMALIS — A PROJECT FOR LOCAL DEVELOPMENT
The staging of Ancient Greek plays constitutes one of the most ubiquitous phenomena in theater throughout the world today crossing ethnic, political, linguistic boundaries in all their forms. Prior to Imalis, artists and teachers from around the world, could come and leave after a brief exposure lasting a few hours in the form of a museum visit or a rare production. At best, an overnight stay, all too brief, by a touring scholarly group, or rarer even, a week-long academic class which nonetheless offered no practical contact with the true function of the spaces. Artists wishing to develop and exchange work on Ancient Greek Theater in its place of origin, on a more formal basis, within a structured context, had nowhere to go.
Prior to Imalis, Greek practitioners as well as local citizens would witness every year a titanic cultural industry invade the ancient spaces of Epidaurus, and lament their ever-decreasing participation in and benefit from the theaters’ present uses, the declining vision and shallow relationship to the tradition, the people and the place: the three elements that make up what we term Ancient Greek Theater's "primary sources."
Prior to Imalis, extended contact with the surviving physical and cultural realities of Ancient Greek Theater, in situ, was simply a pipe dream. The essential human and extended experiential contact with the place, the people and the tradition, which only creative interaction could offer, remained foreign to the citizens of Epidaurus and international practitioners alike.
In the absence of any institutional provision that recognizes this desire to explore the primary sources in their place of origin, to learn and exchange the ancient scenic arts on an open, inclusive basis, Imalis has been conceived as a framework that answers the shared needs of these two disparate, yet interdependent groups, by bringing them together.
This absence proceeds from a fundamental emptiness at the heart of contemporary Greek culture. It is indeed a mirror into which few have dared look. And yet, within it, lies hidden a new space, which is at the same time a timeless space, and a myriad of infinite spaces...
Imalis is unique in that it is the only research-oriented cultural development initiative in Greece that can claim to be both open and yet rooted in tradition, local in the focus of its mission yet international in its scope, structured as a collaborative framework between regional entities both public and private, and yet operated as a self-sustaining non-profit enterprise by Greek and non-Greek partners across borders.
Imalis is a well reflecting the sky in whose waters we discover the face of our real selves, by returning to the source that was lost.
Our project, for which we seek your support and participation, aims at lifting up that mirror for the benefit of the international body of practitioners, but also for that of the historically disenfranchised communities of Epidauros who, excluded so far from the operating models of exploitation of a heritage which is first theirs, are ready presently to assume their rightful role through their participation and self-determination in the management of the single most important local resource next to agriculture of their local economy.
The return of the practice of ancient drama and its research to its original home, the Ancient Theaters of Epidauros, will provide an unprecedented opportunity to extend and deepen the work and exchange of its international practitioners, students and researchers. It will offer a vital context for the contact and sharing between people and cultures, with a special focus on the role of collaboration and inspiration in the spread of peace and human understanding.