With a gift of 10,000 pounds from Efstratios Rallis, King George I decides to build a National Theatre.
The foundations are laid on Agiou Konstantinou Street on a plot of land owned by Nikolaos Thon. The theatre is built according to a design by the well-known Austrian architect Ernst Ziller, who was responsible for a number of other public buildings in Athens.
Angelos Vlachos is appointed as the Director, the General Secretary is Stefanos Stefanou, the Director of Plays is Thomas Ikonomou, and the Set Designer is Christoforos Tavoularis. Vlachos steps down before the opening season begins, to be replaced by Nikolas Thon.
7 November. The Drama School, at which Thomas Ikonomou and Aristotelis Kourtidis are teachers, begins operating.
24 November. The Royal Theatre opens its doors to the public with a monologue from Dimitris Verardakisʼ play Maria Dozapatri and two Greek one-act comedies: Dimitris Koromilasʼ The Death of Pericles and Charalambos Anninosʼ Servant Required.
30 December. Aeschylusʼ Oresteia is staged in a prose translation by Yorgos Sotiriadis. The production sparks off a long linguistic conflict, as students from the School of Philosophy, incited by their classicist professor, Yorgos Mistriotis, march down Agiou Konstantinou in an attempt to halt the performance. The episodes that follow, known as the Oresteiaka, result in one death and ten injuries.
The Royal Theatre announces that it is stopping its performances indefinitely. The theatre remains closed, occasionally playing host to foreign theatre companies, until 1932.
The National Theatre is founded, under an act of parliament signed by the education minister, Yorgos Papandreou, on 30 May. Ioannis Griparis is appointed General Director, and the Permanent Director of Plays is Fotis Politis.
19 March. The National Theatre opens its doors. The first productions are Aeschylusʼ Agamemnon and Sublime Dream by Grigorios Xenopoulos. For the next twelve years Kleovoulos Klonis and Antonis Fokas are permanent associates of the theatre, designing the sets and costumes respectively.
Fotis Politis dies. His place is taken by Dimitris Rondiris.
3 October. The Nationalʼs first open-air production of ancient drama, Sophoclesʼ Elektra is presented at Epidaurus. Artistic Director Kostis Bastias brings well-known theatre companies such as the Old Vic and the Gate Theatre to perform at the National.
The touring theatre company "Arma Thespidos" is founded, with Pelos Katselis as its director. The first production is Shakespeareʼs Othello, which opens at Corinth on 17 September.
5 March. The Greek National Opera is established as part of the National Theatre. Its first production is Johann Straussʼs Die Fledermaus.
Productions of Sophoclesʼ Elektra and Shakespeareʼs Hamlet, tour cities such as Cairo, Alexandria, Berlin and London.
24 November - 26 April. For safety reasons, productions at the National Theatre and the National Opera are transferred from the Central Theatre to the Palace Theatre on Voukourestiou Street, which has an air-raid shelter.
Maria Callas makes her first professional appearance at the National Opera in Pucciniʼs Tosca.
Eleni Papadaki makes her last appearance at the Herodes Atticus Theatre, eighteen months before her death, in Euripidesʼ Hecuba, directed by Sokratis Karantinou.
The National Opera is transferred to the Olympia Theatre on Akadimias Street, with Manolis Kalomiris as Artistic Director.
Melina Mercouri makes her first appearance at the National Theatre, in Martin Sierraʼs Cradle Song.
Marika Kotopouli appears at the National Theatre for the first time as Clytemnestra in Aeschylusʼ Oresteia. The director is Dimitris Rondiris.
Alexis Solomos and Karolos Koun make their directing debuts at the National, with Shakespeareʼs As you Like It and Pirandelloʼs Henry IV respectively.
Emilios Veakisʼ final role is in Dionysios Romasʼ Three Worlds. He dies in June of the same year.
Cybele enjoys one of the greatest successes of her career in Grigorios Xenopoulosʼ The Secret of Contessa Valerena.
Sixteen years after Elektra, Dimitris Rondiris returns to the ancient theatre at Epidaurus with Euripidesʼ Hippolytus. The role of Theseus is played by Thanos Kotsopoulos, and that of Hippolytus by Alekos Alexandrakis.
Emilios Hourmouzios takes over the helm at the National from Dimitris Rondiris. The Epidaurus Festival is established. Katina Paxinou gives the performance of her career as Hecuba in Alexis Minotisʼ production of the play by Euripides. Anna Sinodinou makes her debut in the same production as Polyxena.
Alexis Minotis directs and stars in Sophoclesʼ Oedipus the King.
The Nationalʼs Second Theatre is founded, with the aim of producing new Greek plays. Its inaugural production is The Seventh Day of Creation by Iakovos Kampanellis.
The first production of ancient comedy takes place at the Herodes Atticus Theatre with Aristophanesʼ Ecclesiazusae directed by Alexis Solomos and starring Mary Aroni and Christophoros Nezer.
Vasso Manolidou, Thanos Kotsopoulos and Yorgos Pappas star in Goetheʼs Faust.
Aristophanesʼ Lysistrata is performed at Epidaurus, in a production directed by Alexis Solomos. The music of Manos Hadjidakis contributes to its great success.
Minotis makes his first appearance in Oedipus at Colonus. The great success of the production leads to a long international tour and it makes many returns to the repertoire over the coming years.
Thanos Kotsopoulos and Anna Sinodinou star in Shakespeareʼs Othello.
Menanderʼs Dyscolus receives its twentieth-century premiere at Epidaurus. Mikis Theodorakis works with the National Theatre for the first time, on Euripides Phoenician Women.
Katina Paxinou enjoys a huge success in Friedrich Durrenmattʼs The Visit.
Elli Lambetti stars in Paul Claudelʼs The Satin Slipper.
Dimitris Horn stars in Alfred de Mussetʼs Lorenzaccio, directed by Jean Tasso.
Takisʼ Mouzenidisʼ production of Euripidesʼ Elektra, with set and costumes by Pavlos Mantoudis, provokes scandal because of its "Balkan" references.
The New Theatre is founded in a space designed by Μ. Perakis, by Vasilios Frangos. The Mobile Theatre Unit is founded to tour the Greek provinces.
Manos Katrakis stars at the National in Cervantesʼ Don Quixote.
Alexis Minotis is appointed Director of the National for a second time.
The summer production of Lysistrata is cancelled when the members of the male chorus are called up to take part in the general mobilization against Turkey.
Dimitris Rondiris directs his last production at Epidaurus, Sophoclesʼ Elektra.
The Childrenʼs Theatre opens with Maurice Maeterlinckʼs The Blue Bird.
Vasso Manolidou plays Winnie in Samuel Beckettʼs Happy Days.
Dimitris Rondiris dies. He directed over forty productions at the National.
The Epidaurus Festival is dedicated to the finest writers of antiquity.
Minos Volanakis makes his directing debut at Epidaurus with Oedipus the King. Oedipus is played by Nikos Kourkoulos.
Jules Dassin directs his first play at the National, Turgenevʼs A Month in the Country. The Mobile Unit recommences its work with The Hostage by Brendan Behan.
Aleka Katseli stars in The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico Garcia Lorca.
Antonis Fokas dies.
Kleovoulos Klonis dies.
Alexis Minotis makes his last appearance at the National Theatre, in The sacrifice of Abraham.
The Third Theatre is founded in the garage of the National. Its first production is Peter Weissʼs Marat/Sade.
The Nationalʼs productions at Epidaurus are cancelled as a result of a techniciansʼ strike.
Nikos Tsoyias makes his last appearance at Epidaurus as Creon in Sophoclesʼ Antigone. Sophoclesʼ Philoctetes and The Trojan Women by Euripides are performed at the Syracuse Festival.
The Marika Kotopouli Theatre opens in the Rex building with Dimitris Psathasʼ Von Dimitrakis.
The National Theatre becomes a ʽlegal entity governed by private lawʼ.
Along with its new legal status, the National has a new Director, Nikos Kourkoulos. The Childrenʼs Theatre opens with Perraultʼs Sleeping Beauty.
The National receives critical acclaim and commercial success on a tour of the USA with Sophoclesʼ Elektra.
The Experimental Theatre, the Empty Space and the Actorsʼ Workshop are founded.
The Ancient Drama Touring Company takes Medea by Euipides and Elektra by Sophocles to a number of foreign cities.
The first Summer Theatre Academy is organized in Monodendri, Epirus.
The National becomes a member of the European Theatre Convention, joining theatres from 23 European countries.
A contract is signed for the restoration of the National Theatre building and the installation of new equipment.
Nikos Kourkoulos dies.
The New Stage re-opens after seven years as the Nikos Kourkoulos New Stage, with a production of Bernard-Marie Koltes’ Roberto Zucco.
The Main Stage opens its doors to the public on 14 October with a production of Nowhere by Dimitris Papaioannou.
A specialist theatrical bookshop opens in the Ziller Building.
Robert Wilson directs Homer’s Odyssey for the National Theatre, in a joint production with Milan’s Piccolo Teatro. It then goes on a foreign tour.
The National Theatre takes over the Irene Pappas School at 52 Pireos St.
The first playwriting studio is held by the National Theatre.
After an absence of eight years, the Experimental Stage (-1) reopens in the Katina Paxinou Auditorium at the Rex Theatre.
An initiative of the National Theatre leads to a first joint production with the State Theatre of Northern Greece and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation. It is Aeschylus’ Antigone, directed by Stathis Livathinos.
The first international workshop on ancient drama is held in Delphi, in collaboration with the European Cultural Centre of Delphi.
In a joint production with Moscow’s Vakhtangov Theatre, the National Theatre stages Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex directed by Lithuania’s Rimas Tuminas, first at the Epidaurus Festival and then on a foreign tour.
A shop opens in the bookshop at the Ziller Building, selling commemorative items inspired by the National’s productions.
The Young People's Stage, a theatre especially for younger audiences, is founded.
The Theatre Directing department of the Drama School is founded.
Latest updated: 06/11/2023