History of the College Theater

Athens College’s tradition in the theater and, more generally, in art is deeply rooted.  It is inextricably linked to the singularity and contribution of the great Karolos Koun, whose creative career as a theater director began at the College in the early 30s.  During his 10 years or so as a teacher of English at Athens College, Koun synchronically expanded his intense artistic ingenuity by teaching – directing plays such as, Aristophanes’ “The Birds,” “The Frogs,” and “Wealth,” Euripides’ “Cyclops,” and Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  The “revolutionary” for many, amateur in name only, performances by casts comprised of College students, with set designs and costumes created by collaborators of Koun, were a sensation  for theatergoers and critics during that epoch.  At the same time, they created the foundation for the College’s theatrical-artistic traditions and were a harbinger of the experimental Art Theater and, subsequently, of its priceless cultural contribution, as well as Karolos Koun’s global success and fame.

 

The first theater of Athens College was an improvised “stage” located in the attic of Benaki Hall, the main building (1929 – 1931).

 

In 1932, the second theater (Choremeio) opened its doors.  Choremi Theater was an auditorium for student gatherings that afforded a normal stage that could be used for play productions and other artistic events.

 

The new College Theater was built in 1982 by the Hellenic-American Educational Foundation with donations from AID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and Mr. G. P. Livanos.  Beyond its primary role to serve the needs of the School, its purpose was and is to breathe life into the greater Athens area with multifaceted contributions to the cultural life of the capital.


From an aesthetic and from a functional-technical (e.g. acoustics) perspective, the College Theater is considered a paradigm by global standards.  Its stage (with a surface area of 120 m2) is suitable for all types of artistic events.  Furthermore, its equipment and the surrounding facilities that support its operation satisfy the contemporary requirements of its complex mission. 


In its first 20 years as a cultural center, the College Theater has successfully met its objectives.  Three thousand events including concerts, recitals, dance and theater performances (by famous as well as up-and-coming artists, with renowned as well as avant-garde bands from Greece and from around the world), visual arts exhibitions (in the Theater’s purposely designed foyers), as well as international conferences are amongst the happenings that took place in its spaces in just the first decade.


In recent years, the capital has witnessed the establishment of other important venues for artistic events.   The College Theater, nonetheless, continues to play a significant role in this domain by persisting with and expanding on its own fruitful educational-cultural contribution in a discreet and meaningful way.