INAUGURATION OF GREEK AMPHITHEATER IN UCONN
By Dimitri G. Soultogiannis
Storrs, CT---The town of Storrs in Connecticut is now the home to the first authentic Greek amphitheater in the United States. Paideia, the Center for Hellenic Studies in Storrs, constructed an open-air amphitheater behind the Paideia building on Dog Lane which was officially inaugurated on September 29th.
The President of the Hellenic American National Committee (HANC) was amongst others who cut the ribbon during the inaugural ceremony. He also gave the Center for Hellenic Studies in Storrs a check for id="mce_marker",000 on behalf of HANC. Kotrotsios also spoke about his close friendship and cooperation with Elias Tomazos as well as Tomazos' hard work and efforts to complete the project. He also announced that it was decided by the Executive Board that portion of proceeds from the next 20th Celebration of HANC in Washington, DC will go towards the PAIDEIA project. Mr. Dimitri Giannaris and Mr A. Agoritsidis donated $5,000 each.
The project started in 2006 according to Ilias Tomazos, the director of the Paideia center. It is an exact replica of the amphitheaters of ancient Greece. Some of the authentic features include solid marble seating that will accommodate 500 people, a complete orchestra and ancient drainage techniques. No electronics will be used during productions. This will keep the authenticity and also keep the volume down for residents in the area. However, Tomazos said electronic amplifiers aren't necessary anyway because the structure of the amphitheater is meant to create ideal acoustics.
"It will be like old times," Tomazos said. Paideia hired a local contractor to build the theater, but much of the work was done by the members of Paideia themselves. For example, students involved in Paideia cleared the land for the amphitheater. Tomazos said they cut down trees using hand saws.
Doing the work themselves saved Paideia a lot of money, but it also took longer than it would if the whole thing were to be done by a contractor. "It took longer, but it's better because it brought people together," Tomazos said. "We forget the human factor."
The money Paideia has spent on the project comes from donations and also from a id="mce_marker"00,000 grant given to them by the state of Connecticut. It is being built on a plot of land that the president of UConn gave to Paideia in 1977."We are very grateful to the university for giving us the land," Tomazos said. "So we tried to make something nice for UConn and for everyone."
The idea to build the amphitheater came about because, according to Tomazos, in ancient Greece, a city would not be considered complete unless it had a theater. Therefore, members of Paideia felt that they would not have a complete Center for Greek Studies without one. "We would not make the greatest contribution to our heritage, if we did not have a theater," Tomazos said.
According to Tomazos the amphitheater is a valuable resource for everyone. It will be open to any organization that wishes to use it. "It will be a place to attract people," Tomazos said. "We feel it is a positive addition to the school and to the community."