Cyprus Mail

The sense of an other

By Alix Norman

It’s September. We’ve made it. Finally, things are getting back to normal – there’s the cool promise of autumn in the air, the kids are heading back to school and we’re all returning to our routines. And, along with these welcome changes, comes the end of the cultural desert: the event schedule is really kicking off and with it the annual Kypria International Festival, a true celebration of the arts and a month of cultural luxury.

For over twenty years, The Kypria International Festival has delighted discerning audiences with its run of musical, theatrical and dance performances. Encompassing the best of both local and foreign talent, it’s a feast for lovers of the performing arts that has – over the years – hosted the best of the best: everything from the English National Symphony Orchestra to the Salzburg Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, The Rhine Ballet to the National Ballet of Cuba, the National Theatre of Greece to a stunning performance by John Malkovich in Infernal Comedy: Confessions of a Serial Killer.

With organisers each year choosing a specific theme to unite the events into a cohesive whole, 2014 is the year of ‘I is someone else’. This quote – ascribed to French poet Arthur Rimbaud – represents “The knowledge of self as a journey in the alienness of the other, using the compass as the morality and respect for the non-conforming,” say the organisers. “Self-awareness and the sense of the ‘other’ are two elements that constitute the basis of human relations in all their manifestations: friendship, love, passion, desire, hate, hostility, acceptance, rejection and xenophobia all defining human behaviour on both a collective and an individual level.”

A clever choice of theme, then, in that it covers almost every aspect of the human existence. And there’s little doubt that the 11 entries in this year’s festival all include at least one – if not all – of these basic emotions. The opening performance, for example, plays to the element of the heart: entitled Constellations, it’s a love story that evolves in varying versions of parallel universes, focusing on free will and the celebration and mourning of existence. “Different scenarios are determined by different parameters,” suggests director, Vangelis Theodoropoulos. “Humans portrayed in their most glorious moments or their sheer weakness. This is a play that poses questions as to the role of destiny and free will in people’s lives, as to the celebration and mourning of existence.” Written by award-winning playwright Nick Payne, it’s already been performed twice as part of the Festival line-up, so don’t miss the last showing this Saturday at Sotira Amphitheatre.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the renowned Rosamunde Trio are presenting a superb musical journey with works by Shostakovich, Fribbins and Dvořák. Under the title ‘I, IS Someone Else’, the three musicians cover several aspects of human emotion: from Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No.2 (composed in 1944 during a difficult period in World War II and dedicated both to a recently deceased friend and the victims of the Holocaust, the work is often typified as a lament) to Fribbins’ ‘Softly, in the dusk’ (inspired by the DH Lawrence poem in which the author mourns his lost childhood) and Dvořák’s collection of Ukranian folk-songs (masterpieces of introspection and yearning), there’s a strong element of memory and loss in the chosen repertoire.

The last of this week’s performances (also taking place on Saturday, though this time at the Strovolos Municipal Theatre in Nicosia) is The Iliad. Needing little introduction, Homer’s classic work is directed by Stathis Livathinos, who uses the play to pose questions such as “Who is the hero of today and what is the meaning of heroism?”, “How much catastrophe and how much anger can one put up with?” and “Why has civil conflict proved to be such a Greek phenomenon?”.

Find the answer to these – and possibly to the whole human dilemma – in this week’s performances. And, don’t forget, there are another eight events to look forward to as part of the festival: The St Petersburg Theatre Russian Ballet in Giselle, a rendition of the traditional Cypriot fairy tale The Princess and the Witches, and Dance Cyprus’ take on The World of Diamantis to name just a few. Let The Kypria International Festival transport you in the coming days and, who knows, you may find aspects of yourself as ‘the other’ that you didn’t know existed!

The 2014 Kypria International Festival
Runs to October 8, and includes a variety of productions performed around the island. For full details of the programme, visit This week’s schedule includes The Rosamunde Trio on Tuesday (Larnaca Municipal Theatre) and Wednesday (Strovolos Municipal Theatre), and both Constellations (Sotira Municipal Theatre) and Homer’s Iliad (StrovolosMunicipal Theatre) on Saturday.


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