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‘What is our motherland?’ Performing ‘time out of joint’ at the National Theatre of Greece (2011–13)

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In May 2011, the National Theatre of Greece launched its autumn 2011 to spring 2013 programme season under the title ‘Ti ine i patrida mas?’ (‘What is our motherland?’) which featured works by Greek and non-Greek artists that focused on three areas: Greeks’ perceptions of themselves, non-Greeks’ views of the country and its people, and what Greece might signify today. This two-year long season can offer insight into the National’s role amidst growing socio-political and financial crises as well as a shifting theatre and performing arts landscape. This article explores whether the ‘What is our motherland?’ season marks a change in the politics, aesthetics and practices of the National Theatre in order to offer some ways of approaching the interplay between crisis, culture and nation-building in contemporary Greece. I will argue that the National’s ostensible change of attitude, inaugurated by this season, in fact constitutes a fulfilment of its institutional role, ‘a natural affiliation between theatre and public politics on a national scale’ (Kruger 1992: 6). But what deserves further critical attention is the issue of temporality as manifested in individual works during the season. In the examples considered here, I offer some ways of reading current experiences of temporality, a time ‘out of joint’ that seems to mark the tone of Greek politics and public life since 2010.
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Keywords: Austras; Golfo; The Backyard of Miracles; haunting; nation; national theatre; nostalgia; temporality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Winchester

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of Greek Media & Culture is an interdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that aims to provide a platform for debate and exploration of a wide range of manifestations of media and culture in and about Greece. The journal adopts a broad and inclusive approach to media and culture with reference to film, photography, literature, the visual arts, music, theatre, performance, as well as all forms of electronic media and expressions of popular culture. While providing a forum for the close analysis of cultural formations specific to Greece, JGMC aims to engage with broader methodological and theoretical debates, and situate the Greek case in global, diasporic and transnational contexts.
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