Speech by the Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bacoyiannis, given during the ceremony held on 5th September 2020.
I am here today to bestow the medal of The City of Athens, to Mr Eugenio Barba.
For a moment, I was thinking what kind of meaning it would have for an emblematic reformer of the contemporary avant-garde global theatre who has been bestowed with so many significant distinctions, medals and honors all over the world, to receive another honorary medal.
The answer came easily to me when I started writing for this evening. Surely, it would have a meaning, I thought. It would have a meaning for those who will hear, see or find out about the distinctions. Because we are living in a very difficult period and we need to confront it as a challenge. Thus, we should coordinate a variety of specific goals for our city.
One of these goals is to attract artists and talents to Athens, because we believe that human factor can make the difference, with people of the arts like Eugenio Barba and his multi- leveled talents in the variety of his work.
People who take life into their hands, guided by their beliefs, devoted to what they love, as well as to their work. So, we owe them of having prepared the path.
Studying your extraordinary C.V., Mr. Barba, I meditated further on the period when you returned to Oslo in 1964, when you were searching unsuccessfully for work and then you created your own theatre group. A year later you received an invitation from the Municipality of Holstebro, a small town in Denmark, to settle there to have a 'home', a base to do your work and research with your theatre group, Odin Teatret. A theatre group which was composed by young candidates who had been rejected from the National Theatre School of Norway, in Oslo. That was the beginning for the rich and endless ‘journey' of your genius work!
These days in Athens we are working enthusiastically in the attempt to facilitate international film productions, through our newly established Film Office. We believe and hope sincerely that this will help artists and film makers from all over the world to be effective and active in our city in different ways.
Today, an era that masks slip, theatrically speaking, as it suits at this occasion, people’s primary needs are showing up more than ever before. And I will comprise in these needs, the necessity of being in touch with art, in all its forms. Because art can create a relief in our daily struggle to give a sense of purpose in our existence.
Mr Barba, Allow me, on the occasion of your Honorary Tribute, with your presence here in Athens, for “Eugenio Barba and Odin Teatret in Athens”, from the City which is considered the birthplace of the western civilization, and therefore of the arts, to bestow you the Medal of the City of Athens.
Mayor of the City of Athens
Cine Κήπος – Moschato – Athens – Greece, 5/9 2020