mέta-troupe 2021: a boulouki’s journey and its backstage

From 12 to 22 July 2021, after months of confinement and enforced cultural ‘eclipse’, mέta set up a feast on the road with six stops throughout Greece: Athens, Patras, Ioannina, Kavala, Thessaloniki and Volos; our ‘boulouki’, or mέta-troupe.

This video offers a glimpse of some highlights — …and its backstage.

Merging stand-up comedy with traditional music made otherwise, as well as ‘Karagiozis’ shadow theater with biting bits on current affairs, our ‘boulouki’ (troupe) attempted to reclaim the public square in times of crisis and the privatisation of our lives via lockdown, with free admission to our celebration. We have tried, in a sense, to reassemble the (physical, real) public space from the debris left by the pandemic and the government’s policies. At the same time, if there is one field that has been hit harder than any other during the pandemic, this is the artistic space, the cultural space. Artists have been declared more or less ‘superfluous’, their activity something like a ‘hobby’. Therefore, the capacity to professionally collaborate with distinguished artists from different backgrounds — music (Konstandis Pistiolis), stand-up comedy (Ira Katsouda and Dimitra Nikitea), traditional shadow theatre with a twist (Thomas Agrafiotis) — was also one of the tools of our ‘boulouki’, on a tour around Greece and not confined to Athens, our all-consuming capital.

The outcome exceeded our expectations: our artists gave their best, and the reception of our ‘boulouki’ by (literally) thousands of citizens all over Greece –who were clearly informed at the beginning of the event about the purposes of mέta and its connection to MeRA25– was touching. Our mέta-boulouki completed its tour of six stations all over Greece, organised a feast for every citizen with free entrance to the public, collective space that we were deprived of. Thomas Agrafiotis, Dimitra Nikitea, Ira Katsouda and Konstandis Pistiolis starred in a ‘boulouki’ of music, laughter, critical gaze, and re-examination of the tradition of our country in a future-oriented perspective. We warmly thank the artists, those who supported and helped us, as well as all those who accepted our invitation and participated in our celebration. There is much more to come!

Credits: Filming & Directing: George Moustakis // Additional shots: Dimitris Zografakis // Boulouki-performers: Kostandis Pistiolis: Singing, winds, strings, percussions, live looping // Ira Katsouda, Dimitra Nikitea: Stand up comedy // Thomas Agrafiotis: Shadow Theatre; Assistant: Anna Sakaretsanou // Nikos Spyropoulos: Sound Recording // Nikos Christogiannopoulos: Assistant Sound Engineer // Kostis Marangos: Lightning Designing // Miltos Lyssikatos: Lights Operator // ‘Boulouki’ production: Nikos Kanarelis: Cultural Director // Sotiris Mitralexis: Academic Director // Mariza Kourtikaki: tour manager-production manager // Hara Ioannou: Scenography and poster design // Kostas Raptis: Press Officer // Georgia Zoupa: Assistant Contact Person // Arianna Vagourdi, Doris Hakim: Secretarial Support // We are profoundly grateful to the volunteers who supported us in all cities. Their invaluable help was of essence to the successful outcome we all enjoyed. // mέta productions.