When in 1997, the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute (CCOITI) decided, after a suggestion by the then director, Nicos Shafkalis, to launch the “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama”, it was motivated by one ambition: to give ancient Greek drama a wider presence in the theatrical activities of the island and thus to contribute to the building of theatrical sensibility among the people, by offering them entertainment of a multi-cultural nature and high aesthetic standards. And this is due to the fact that the CCOITI has always believed that the ancient Greek drama which constitutes the basis of the contemporary European drama and an element of the world cultural heritage, has direct relevance to today’s world.
The performances are presented in open-air amphitheatres, such as the Ancient Odeon in Paphos, the Curium Ancient Theatre in Limassol and the “Skali” Amphitheatre Aglantzia in Nicosia, during the whole month of July every year.
Theatre companies and groups participate in the festival’s programme from different countries around the world. Just to mention a few of them, the Festival has hosted productions from countries such as Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Germany, Georgia, Greece, Israel, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Latvia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden U.K., U.S.A, including Cyprus. Many of the performances are innovative in their approach, projecting the uniqueness of ancient Greek drama but also carrying out an intense essence of the culture of the country of origin.
Looking back and evaluating the long course of the festival, we can say that this objective has been achieved to a satisfactory degree. Each year the festival grows, acquiring its own multicultural character, hosting theatre groups coming from different cultural backgrounds and it is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important cultural institutions of our island.
During the last years, the festival has been significantly developed: it has broadened its perspective, embracing the innovative through the timeless, the contemporary through the ancient, while it has expanded its audience in local and foreign spectators by surtitling the performances in Greek and English. The Festival has brought the artistic creation closer to the society, reaching the broad strata of society and has stepped in Cypriot creativity, while opening constructive dialogues with other countries.
Τhe “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama” has been honoured with the EFFE Label (2015-2016, 2017-2018 and 2019-2020), as one of Europe’s finest festivals.
The “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama” is co-organised, since its beginning, by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute and the Deputy Ministry of Tourism (former Cyprus Tourism Organisation).