Cyprus Theatre Museum - open world to imagination

Hello everybody,

Theatre is a world of imagination and dreams. Puppets, mask, costumes, lights and sounds.. people, emotions,  changing the way we think, the way we are.

Cyprus Theatre Museum is a new gate to reflection. Part of history, part of beauty, part of creations, the roads are open to introspection. There is nothing more beautiful then to be introduced in the past as part of our present. It is a place for everybody, but children will be able to transform themselves trough this visit in new personages. They will be part of the theatre, part of a dream. Mrs. Natalia Kouhartsiouk will be our guide today in our magical trip.

Izzy: Cyprus Theatre Museum it is a place for history and art. Mrs. Kouhartsiouk what you could tell us about the beginning of this museum in Cyprus?
N. K.: The history of the Cyprus Theatre Museum is closely connected to the personal life story of Nikos S. Nikolaides (1909-1989) who was an optician by profession, based in Lemesos, but also an amateur actor, director, writer as well as a passionate collector of theatrical memorabilia. His decision to bequeath his rare theatre collection and archive to the Municipality of Lemesos was the beginning of joint efforts carried out by the Municipality of Lemesos and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation for the establishment of a Theatre Museum. The main focus behind the creation of the Museum was to preserve the history of theatre in Cyprus and house not only Nikolaides’ collection but also other archives from other individuals and organized theatre bodies (professional theatre groups, theatre professionals etc) that are active in Cyprus. After years of hard work towards the establishment of the Museum, which included also finding the right space to accommodate it, Panos Solomonides donated the Kouvas printing factory building to the Municipality of Lemesos. His donation allowed the Municipality to gradually transform the old factory into the Panos Solomonides Cultural Centre that was inaugurated in 2010. Today, this venue houses the Cyprus Theatre Museum, which officially opened its doors to the public on the 26th of March 2012, on the eve of the celebration of the International Theatre Day.

Izzy: Creativity is what makes people different giving them power. The theatre includes a multitude of aspects. What we could discover inside the museum and which is your role inside this play?
N.K.: Printed material, costumes, scale models, props, set and costume designs, as well as photographs and posters constitute the exhibits of the permanent collection of the Cyprus Theatre Museum, giving visitors the opportunity to take a virtual tour in the island’s history of theatre. The Museum consists of three main sections: History - a journey through the major stages of theatre activity in Cyprus, with an emphasis on the periods that mark the changes in the development of the island’s theatre scene; The Contributors –.A section about the collaboration and joint efforts of a number of professionals and artists (playwrights, directors, actors, set and costume designers, composers, lighting designers, choreographers, technicians) contributing to the production of a theatre performance and finally The performance – this section hosts costumes from significant and emblematic performances of the island’s theatre history.
Apart from the collection of Nikos S. Nikolaides, the Museum also includes Giorgos Filis’ archive with material of the Organisation for the Development of Theatre (OTHAK), Giorgos Vatyliotis’ photographic archive, material belonging to the Cyprus Theatre Organisation, as well as exhibits from many theatre professionals and companies that donated or lent various objects from their unique collections. From the above archives, some objects are exhibited and others have been placed in the Museum’s library and archive. Among those, one may find the large collection of books on theatre from Nikos. S. Nikolaides and the continuously updated theatrical poster collection. Visitors can enjoy both the exhibition and also ask to study books and other printed material from the library and archives.
Apart from its beautiful exhibition and very interesting archives and library material, the Cyprus Theatre Museum offers a series of educational programs. My role as a theatre practitioner is to design and implement the interactive workshops of our educational programs along with another colleague. The two of us form the team for the educational programs of the Museum.

Izzy: Children love to make discoveries, to listen stories, to be part of a world of imagination. What has the Cyprus Theatre Museum to offer to the kids they wish to come for a visit? How old you can be to enjoy the visit?
N.K.: The Cyprus Theatre Museum has a few stations in its space designed specifically for children and young people. For instance, the museum has a corner where one may find the Dressing Room area. Here, a small wardrobe is available for children (and adults!) who can put on bizarre or classical theatrical costumes as well as hats and masks. By encouraging children to put on a costume and take on a role, they can try various outfits in front of the characteristic dressing room mirror and also step on a stage. The Museum’s stage is a space of play for children where they can do small improvisations while trying on different roles. Next to the stage, a light designing console is available for the young visitors who wish to experiment with adjusting the intensity and color of the lights. In the Museum’s corridor of deforming mirrors, children can see themselves and others be transformed into somebody else, taking various heights and widths.

Izzy: On the Cyprus Theatre Museum website  I've noticed that there are many interesting activities that kids can be part of by visiting the museum. What can you tell us about these activities and how kids can be part of them?
N.K.: Our educational programs’ initiative is an interesting and fun experience for any child aged from 4 years old onwards to have in our Museum. Our educational programs aim towards allowing children to become familiar with the space and with the history of Cyprus theatre and the art of theatre in general, through interactive methods, developing at the same time children’s creative expression, imagination and ability for collaboration. The educational programs are based on the students’ capacity for observation and association of information, the exploration of space and discovery. We employ empirical and active learning, focusing on drama techniques, making the tour of the Museum an enjoyable, playful experience for our young visitors. Beyond the interactive tour, the educational programs also include a craft making part. According to the age group, young visitors can make theatrical posters, theatrical masks, hats as well as costume and set designing. Our educational programs are designed for children and young people aged from 4 to 18 years old and they are mostly designed to accommodate the needs of organized children and youth groups from schools and other educational establishments.

Izzy: What about kids visiting the museum with their parents? Can be a visit at the museum part of a family day out?
N.K.: Smaller group visits, such as a family visits, are definitely encouraged. We can offer interactive tours of the Museum with the use of theatrical play for the children and parents together, as long as the tour is booked in advance. Also, we regularly organize events that may interest parents and children such as theatrical performances for children and young people, storytelling workshops for children or for parents with their children as well as theatrical crafts workshops. Also, the Museum collaborates periodically with external collaborators who offer their expertise in implementing workshops with children on a variety of themes. To stay informed about such events, one may visit our website or send us an email to include them in our mailing list.

Izzy: A museum can be a place where people can meet and enjoy various activities. Is this the case of the Theatre Museum?  What other activities are you organizing on the premises of your museum?
N.K.: The Cyprus Theatre Museum is definitely a space where theatre researchers and enthusiasts meet, artists meet and collaborate, families and children come to enjoy an afternoon, learning and having fun. Beyond the educational programs we offer and the various workshops and theatrical performances we offer regularly for children, we also organize activities for adult audiences as well. We have an open call for collaboration with artists who would like to exhibit their work (parts of a theatrical performances for instance) in the Museum spaces. This collaborations result in the realization of performances inside the Museum, which are open to the public. Also, we just recently started to collaborate with theatre practitioners who offer professional workshops for adult training such as teacher training on the use of theatre as a tool in their work.

Izzy: As it is a custom now on our webpage I would like to ask you to tell us a story about Cyprus Theatre that we will enjoy reading it.
N.K.: “1934. We are at Xenos village in Cyprus. At the village kafeneio the theatre group of Aggelos Vazas is about to perform. However, the theatre group has not paid the owner of the kafeneio the rent for the previous performance they put up in his property last time they came to the village. During the performance, the owner – out of ignorance or spite, we cannot tell for sure – invades the stage space. The actor, Kostas Metzitis, who was playing the role of a rich Conte, desperately tries to save the scene. He includes the owner in the action as a waiter and asks him to offer a drink to the lady (played by Marika Baza) who the Conte was flirting with according to the plot. The owner, then, in his heavy Cypriot dialect exclaims “If you don’t pay me what you owe now, I am not bringing anything to anyone!” (as accounted by Achilleas Lympourides in his book Istorikes Pragmateies).

Thank you very much for the fantastic opportunity offered to discover the insides of the Cyprus Theatre Museum.
Lots of sunny days from Izzy the Cypriot Lizard!

Cyprus Theatre Museum
Opening Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9.00 – 13.00
Tuesday - Friday: 16.00 – 19.00
Sunday: 10.00 – 14.00 For pre booked visits only
Closed Saturday and Public Holidays
Entrance Fee: 3 euro / 2 euro concessions / Children under 12 for Free.
Address: 2-8, Panos Solomonides Street (former Androutsou str) 3032 Lemesos
Phone no: +357 25 343 464
Contact person: Mrs. Angelina Moridou

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