“Garis, the Musical” by Tasoula Eptakoili, NTNG’s new Children’s Stage production
GARIS, THE MUSICAL by Tasoula Eptakoili
THEATRICAL ADAPTATION: Vangelis Koufakos
DIRECTED BY: Tasos Pyrgieris
VENUE: Royal (Vasiliko) Theatre
ΟPENING: Sunday 6 November 2022
DURATION: 90 min
“Garis”, one of three books for children written by Tasoula Eptakoili, has been imaginatively adapted for the stage by Vangelis Koufakos. The author, who is well-known both as a journalist (as an editor on the Greek daily “I Kathimerini”) and as an author (“My other whole”, “The woman in the elevator”, “Coin in the air”, “Do you see me?”), as well as for writing and presenting the successful “Plana me Oura” [Shaggydog Shots], a successful show about animal welfare on Greek state television, introduces us to the wonderful world of fantasy through the life of her own four-legged superhero.
Α FEW WORDS ABOUT THE PLAY
“Garis, the Musical” is the story of a donkey whose ability to fly will draw children into adventures which are as exciting as they are unexpected—given that, where English says “When pigs fly!” for something that isn’t going to happen, Greek says the same of donkeys.
Tasoula, a dynamic journalist, is asked to write an article about Superman. But in a fit of creativity and research, she begins to wonder how donkeys got their bad reputation. So she sets out to identify the root of these prejudices, to help us all see these unique and kindly animals with new eyes.
Garis is a donkey who one day realizes he can fly. But his superpower is activated by one thing and one thing alone: empathy. He listens to and feels the pain of others, and always ends up helping them—as long as that’s the right and just thing to do. “Garis” will transport children into a world of fantasy, making them love one of our very own superheroes: the long-suffering donkey of the Greek countryside. And it is this animal, so misunderstood in our folk tradition and in our language, that transcends our reality and “flies” us to a place where the concepts of justice, companionship, empathy and solidarity regain their place and worth.
We're under an obligation: to help those who need us
When I started to read Garis by Tasoula Eptakoili, all sorts of images began to flash through my head. Her writing, the special relationship we both have with nature and animals, and Garis the loveable four-legged superhero all fired my imagination and made me keen to adapt his story for the stage. I wanted the whole world to get to know Garis, the very special donkey who knew how to give of his love selflessly and open-hoovedly. Everyone who knows me and Tasoula Eptakoili know that we love cats—we have felines at home and look after the neighbourhood cats—, but animals of every kind occupy a special place in our hearts.
That said, I could never have imagined how much I would bond with an equine, our flying donkey friend, because donkeys are country animals, and city folk like us have never had the opportunity to spend time in their company; if we had, we'd know just how special they are. When I finished Garis' tale, I researched donkeys and learned everything I could about them. There were a good many things that made an impression: their excellent memory for one, or the fact that they were held sacred in ancient Greece, and—strange as it may seem—that they make excellent guards. I visited the donkey village, made their acquaintance at first hand, and felt for myself how special these intelligent mammals are.
Over time, I began to put the idea to my colleagues of making Garis into a musical. The first person I pitched my idea to was Dimitris Maramis, the excellent composer with whom I've been collaborating for years in my theatrical performances, and who—like me—has always wanted to create and stage a musical. Then I spoke with my close collaborator, Alexia Theodoraki, about the look of the show, how I imagined the sets and costumes. And, finally, I entrusted the theatrical adaptation of the fairytale to Vangelis Koufakos. So the time has come, with Garis' help, to make my dream come true, because that's Garis' gift: granting the wishes of others.
The National Theatre of Northern Greece embraced our idea and included our production in its 2022–2023 season, as part of its children's programme, though I'm sure Garis' story will be loved by all ages.
As we emerge from the trying conditions of the pandemic, which may or may not have finally come to an end, this was perfect timing. I am grateful to the NTNG for this opportunity, and for the chance to work with its multi-talented company of actors. Along with my colleagues, everyone who works with and at the NTNG, and our cast, we hope that we have created an animated, cheerful, bright performance, full of light and humour, joy, melodious music and love—a production that will touch children and introduce them to, and transport them into, the real world of animals.
It is my wish that, when the audience gets up and leaves at the end of the show, they will start—or continue—to treat animals with love and care. It is imperative in the times in which we live to educate younger audiences through theatre to become the responsible, animal-loving citizens of tomorrow.
And as we say in Garis: "...Love is like clover: you sow a few seeds and it grows and spreads and fills the whole field". This is what we want our Garis the musical to do, too: to sow seeds and for the love of animals to grow and spread until, some day, their abuse and abandonment is a thing of the past.
My collaboration with the NTNG, my colleagues and cast has been one of the happiest and most outstanding periods in my theatrical career as a director, and I am delighted that Thessaloniki audiences will have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful musical. May Garis keep flying and making the wishes of everyone who needs to change their lives for the better come true.
Theatrical adaptation: Vangelis Koufakos, Directed by: Tasos Pyrgieris, Sets-Costumes: Alexia Theodoraki, Music: Dimitris Maramis, Lyrics: Sotiris Trivizas, Choreography: Konstantinos Gerardos, Lighting: Stelios Tzolopoulos, Μusic coaching: Panagiotis Barlas, Assistant to the director: Christoforos Mariadis, 2nd Assistant to the director: Thanasis Dislis, Assistant to the set & costume designer: Manolis Psomatakis, Special props: Christina Thalassa, Production Coordinator: Marina Chatziioannou
Cast: Lefteris Angelakis (Lazy, Dog), Pelagia Angelidou (Julie the editor-in-chief, Owl), Marianna Avramaki (Baker, Pepita, Sheep), Manos Galanis (Baker, Pig, Master-Mentios), Eleni Giannousi (Grey, Journalist 2), Ilektra Goniadou (Ririka, Chicklet), Mara Malgarinou (Kitty, Chicken 2), Christos Papadimitriou (Garis), Maria Nefeli Paraskevopoulou (Chicken 1, Journalist 1), Dimitris Sakatzis (Maestro, the narrator), Evi Sarmi (Tasoula, Vixen), Evanthia Sofronidou (Pinky, Hen, Nanny goat, Rat), Eleftheria Tetoula (Mistress-Georgia, Hare), Giannis Tsatsaris (Master-Thodoris, Big Ears, Boss)