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Betwixt and Between: Youthful Vitality and Renewal in a Twenty-Three-Hundred-Year-Old City

Betwixt and Between: Youthful Vitality and Renewal in a Twenty-Three-Hundred-Year-Old City Betwixt and Between Youthful Vitality and Renewal in a twenty-Three-Hundred-Year-Old City Joshua abrams and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck Eleventh Europe Theatre Prize, Ninth Europe Prize New Theatrical  Realities, Thessaloniki, Greece, April 26–29, 2007. A s  well-traveled  theatre  and  per  formance  scholars,  the  absence   in  our  previous  itineraries  of  Greece  seemed  a  rather  large  hole,  so  the  occasion  of  the  Eleventh  Europe  Theatre  Prize’s  setting  in  Thessaloniki,  Greece seemed rather fortuitous. Not the  Greece  of  picture-postcard  whitewash,  wandering cats, and intense blue waters,  Thessaloniki is a working city, the second  largest in Greece, yet it is a determinedly  youthful  city.  It  is  the  juxtaposition  of  this youthful and industrial vitality with  Greek history and age, which seems so  poignant  in  this  city  that  shaped  our  perspectives on the festival. Thessaloniki  appears  a  crossroads,  between  age  and  youth, between East and West, between  North and South. Home  to  the  95,000-plus  students  of  Aristotle University, with a portside setting on the Thermaikos Gulf, and known  for its coffee, Thessaloniki, or Salonica,  is  often  referred  to  as  the  “Seattle  of  Greece.”  We  were  told  that  the  locals  love their coffee, and that the working  day was often interrupted by prolonged  coffee breaks; we were sent to the Electra  76    PAJ 88 (2008), pp. 76–84.  Palace  Hotel  on  Aristotelius  Square  as  a  place  to  sit  at  the  rooftop  restaurant  overlooking the gulf to enjoy a frappe,  the  favored  coffee  selection—basically  a  rich,  shaken  iced  latte.  Indeed,  this  was  an  idyllic  setting,  and  despite  the  contemporariness  of  the  fixtures  and  restaurant  design,  it  evoked  a  certain  timelessness. Trapped between the laidback attitudes of Greek islands and the  bustle of what wants to be a contemporary city, Thessaloniki telescopes twentythree centuries into the present moment  and yet seems slightly out of time in the  early twenty-first century. This sense of  the past can be felt especially in relation  to the increasingly global smoking ban,  which  on  July  1,  2007,  was  embraced  even by the UK’s joining the parade of  countries  to  ban  smoking  in  enclosed  spaces—yet there in Thessaloniki, everyone  seems  to  smoke.  As  we  sat  in  the  Electra Palace with our frappes, almost  all  of  the  other  tables  were  filled  with  groups  of  people,  http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art MIT Press

Betwixt and Between: Youthful Vitality and Renewal in a Twenty-Three-Hundred-Year-Old City

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
© 2008 Joshua Abrams and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck
ISSN
1520-281X
eISSN
1537-9477
DOI
10.1162/pajj.2008.30.1.76
Publisher site
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Abstract

Betwixt and Between Youthful Vitality and Renewal in a twenty-Three-Hundred-Year-Old City Joshua abrams and Jennifer Parker-Starbuck Eleventh Europe Theatre Prize, Ninth Europe Prize New Theatrical  Realities, Thessaloniki, Greece, April 26–29, 2007. A s  well-traveled  theatre  and  per  formance  scholars,  the  absence   in  our  previous  itineraries  of  Greece  seemed  a  rather  large  hole,  so  the  occasion  of  the  Eleventh  Europe  Theatre  Prize’s  setting  in  Thessaloniki,  Greece seemed rather fortuitous. Not the  Greece  of  picture-postcard  whitewash,  wandering cats, and intense blue waters,  Thessaloniki is a working city, the second  largest in Greece, yet it is a determinedly  youthful  city.  It  is  the  juxtaposition  of  this youthful and industrial vitality with  Greek history and age, which seems so  poignant  in  this  city  that  shaped  our  perspectives on the festival. Thessaloniki  appears  a  crossroads,  between  age  and  youth, between East and West, between  North and South. Home  to  the  95,000-plus  students  of  Aristotle University, with a portside setting on the Thermaikos Gulf, and known  for its coffee, Thessaloniki, or Salonica,  is  often  referred  to  as  the  “Seattle  of  Greece.”  We  were  told  that  the  locals  love their coffee, and that the working  day was often interrupted by prolonged  coffee breaks; we were sent to the Electra  76    PAJ 88 (2008), pp. 76–84.  Palace  Hotel  on  Aristotelius  Square  as  a  place  to  sit  at  the  rooftop  restaurant  overlooking the gulf to enjoy a frappe,  the  favored  coffee  selection—basically  a  rich,  shaken  iced  latte.  Indeed,  this  was  an  idyllic  setting,  and  despite  the  contemporariness  of  the  fixtures  and  restaurant  design,  it  evoked  a  certain  timelessness. Trapped between the laidback attitudes of Greek islands and the  bustle of what wants to be a contemporary city, Thessaloniki telescopes twentythree centuries into the present moment  and yet seems slightly out of time in the  early twenty-first century. This sense of  the past can be felt especially in relation  to the increasingly global smoking ban,  which  on  July  1,  2007,  was  embraced  even by the UK’s joining the parade of  countries  to  ban  smoking  in  enclosed  spaces—yet there in Thessaloniki, everyone  seems  to  smoke.  As  we  sat  in  the  Electra Palace with our frappes, almost  all  of  the  other  tables  were  filled  with  groups  of  people, 

Journal

PAJ: A Journal of Performance and ArtMIT Press

Published: Jan 1, 2008

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