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by Archaeology Newsroom

Folk theatre in Greece

The real reason behind the flourishing of folk theatre in modern Greece lies in the fact that Greek tradition and folk culture developed through centuries of Turkish occupation (our knowledge of Byzantine folk culture is limited), and always indispensably contained show entertainments, i.e. the simpler forms of folk theatre. A full research on the forms of folk theatre in Greece, before the Balkan Wars, will lead us to the strata of customs where it is rooted. The Greek folk theatre reached its peak with Karaghiosis, the shadow theatre hero who greatly affected Greek society and especially the lower classes and is broadly accepted as a national, cultural symbol. The fame of the humble paper hero has expanded outside the borders of his country. He became the focus of interest for the theatre historian, being the unique survival of the theatre of shadow in the Mediterranean as well as for the theatre theoretician, being an example of the “theatre of one”. The case of Karaghiosis strengthens the theory that the unexpected, sudden blooming of provincial theatre during the last decade revived a folk traditionlinstitution that gradually had almost vanished in the painful course of the Greek history of the 20th century. Furthermore, this provincial theatre, in the limited choice for entertainment available to a village, functions in a way similar to that of the years of Turkish occupation. Thus, the modern theatrical activity continues the tradition of popular shows and representational customs that both create the simple, as well as the elaborate forms of the traditional folk theatre. The cultural policy for the decentralization of theatre greatly contributes to the continuation of an age-old tradition.