A lot of people come to Cyprus looking for cultural entertainment. And it is not at all surprising, as the island is known not only for its beaches, zoos, water parks, Medieval castles and other sites but also for a theatre culture which roots deep in the ancient history. What should one know about this culture and which theatres and shows to attend? We created this review to share all our knowledge on the topic with our readers.
Ancient theatres in Cyprus
Archaeological excavations in various parts of the island showed that ancient Cypriots were great fans of theatres. For example, the ruins of Salamis, an ancient Greek city-state, that were discovered by archaeologists in 1952 – 1974, for a big part consist of a huge ancient theatre that could accommodate up to 15 000 visitors and is believed to have been built in the 1st century AD.
Another ancient city, Soli, is located not far from Nicosia. There is a theatre remaining from the Roman times here. It was considerably restored and, unfortunately, had lost its original atmosphere.
An ancient theatre in Kourion (Episkopi village not far from Limassol) is one of the main touristic sites on the territory of the Kourion Archaeological Area. It was built by Greeks in the II century BC and at some point rebuilt by Romans. Such classics as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristophanes, Euripides, and others were staged here.
After the damaging earthquake that took place in year 77 the theatre was restored and expanded. In the III century AD, it was used as a gladiator arena, in the V century — as a stone mine. Eventually, the amphitheatre was abandoned and fell into disrepair. In 1961 the theatre was repaired to such an extent that nowadays it holds theatre shows and modern interpretations of classical Greek tragedies.
Thus, the history of theatre in Cyprus goes back to the ancient times, when thousands of people would gather to watch comedies and tragedies based on myths and historical events. All the actors were men, while women if allowed to enter a theatre, had to sit separately.
When the Roman Empire took over, a popular and even prestigious profession of an actor became shameful. Nevertheless, the theatre culture was developing rapidly: a lot of new genres (such as short and politics centred atellans) appeared over the years, and mimes became a common street phenomenon.
Even when the first Greek and Roman theatres fell into disrepair, talented people kept telling stories using international language of comedy and drama.
Theatres in Limassol
The Rialto Theatre located in Limassol city centre holds musicals, dance shows, concerts of classical music, cinema festivals and broadcastings of cultural events from all over the world.
The Municipal Gardens Theatre is a perfect place for a family day off. Entertaining and cultural events take place at a spacious open-air amphitheatre. Come here to listen to a symphony orchestra performing, or to enjoy ballet, drama or comedy show. In addition, the theatre hosts touring actors from Europe and USA.
Those who are interested in experimental theatre and performance are welcome at the VERSUS theatre.
Theatres in Nicosia
The new building of the Cyprus National Theatre in Nicosia opened for visitors in 2012. The Great Hall accommodates 550 people, and the Small Hall can host about 150 viewers. There is also a conference hall, a library, a restaurant, a bar, and a gift shop here. The theatre stages musicals, classic and contemporary plays, concerts, cultural events and presentations.
Ballet, light and music shows, as well as cinema screenings, concerts, and theatre performances are held at the Latsia Municipal Theatre, equipped with modern light and sound systems, There is also an exhibition hall at the theatre.
The Strovolos Municipal Theatre is home to the Cyprus Orchestra. Such cultural events as school parties, concerts, cinema shows and others also take place here.
The Theatre of Dionysus is where contemporary plays staged by Cypriot and foreign theatre troupes are performed, as well as productions by local studio theatre.
The Satiriko Theatre opened in 1983. Greek, Cypriot, and foreign theatre productions — both classic and contemporary — are staged here.
The Odin theatre is located next to the Famagusta Gate. It is a perfect place to broaden one’s knowledge of Greek theatre.
Theatres in Paphos
The Markideio theatre is the most popular in Paphos. Its history goes back to the year 1918 when two brothers, Sotirakis and Kostis Markidis performed Cypriot variety show and taught contemporary European choreography at their theatre club. Nowadays the theatre is big enough for 400 visitors. It holds dance and musical events; different theatre productions are also shown here on the regular basis.
The Stage One Theatre is located in Elba village not far from Paphos. It specialises in drama, musicals, comedy, and pantomime.
Photos of the Satiriko Theater (www.satiriko.com) and the National Theater of Cyprus in Nicosia (www.thoc.org.cy).