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The National Theatre of Northern Greece is currently the country’s largest theatrical, as well as cultural organization, in broader terms. Comprising of 4 winter venues, 2 open-air theatres, and also organising Greek and international tours, it functions as an active cultural core since 1961.
 
The new institutional framework of the NTNG was voted in 1994, and according to it, the theatre is administrated by a seven-membered administrative board and the artistic director.
 
The NTNG is superintended and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
 
Since May 1996, the NTNG is a member of the Union of Theatres of Europe (www.ute-net.org) and a member of its directorial board until 2013. The NTNG is also a member of the International Theatre Institute.
 
The artistic programming of the NTNG presents annually a program that combines in-house productions with co-productions with other theatrical organizations, tributes, and lodging of Greek and international guest performances. The NTNG activity also expands to other cultural domains, such as education, literature, fine arts, exhibition, organizing conferences and international festivals, educational theatre programmes and other social activities.
 
Regarding education and culture as basic essentials and aiming at establishing the NTNG as a theatre which will be open for every citizen, the NTNG practically implements a strategy, whose basic axes are the following:
  • Broad repertoire selection.
  • Low ticketing policy and benefit gradation.
  • Emphasis on the social policies for the population groups who are unable to access the theatre praxis for different reasons.
  • Emphasis on the production of performances of high aesthetic quality for the children and youth.
  • Organizing social activities that aim at sensitizing the citizens.
  • Strengthening bonds and collaborations with local unions, social institutions and charity organizations.
  • Reinforcement of the theatre’s international appeal.
 
As a theatre of public interest, that needs to reciprocate a citizen for his/her contribution, through art, education and entertainment, the NTNG pays special attention to its educational and social policy, while at the same time it aspires to bring the citizen even closer to culture and theatre, by developing a diverse activity.
 
In this context, and parallel to the great tourneys that are scheduled every summer, the NTNG has reactivated the Macedonian–Thrace Unit, that tours around Northern Greece and gives performances even in the remotest villages and, joining forces with institutions and other groups in the city, it has organized a series of actions that are admission-free and are presented in public spaces.  Moreover, the NTNG presents public readings in alternative spaces all around the city’s neighbourhoods (such as the Archaelogical Museum), while a group of actors visits institutions and apartments of people of different age groups that don’t have access to the theatre venues, through the program “In-house theatre.”
 
The NTNG Children Stage, founded in 1977, but also the Youth Stage, founded in 2003, present on an annual basis performances of high aesthetic qualities for children and teenagers, that aim not only at entertaining, but also at bringing the children in touch with monumental texts, introducing them to  theatre art, infusing them with important messages and nurturing mature adult spectators.
 
Since 2002, the NTNG offers educational programs addressed to students of primary and secondary education. In 2012 the social activity Fo-Ra (Fear-Racism STOP) was presented in secondary schools, in order to sensitize young students to the great danger of racism that is radically spread, as many fierce cases of racism arise in schools.
Until now, 200.000 students have attended NTNG’s educational programs.

Also, the NTNG, wishing to contribute to the educators’ work, to ease their contact with theatre and provide substantial support to matters that are related to the exploitation of theatrical approaches to education, undertakes a series of initiatives, such as: the ability to contact the contributors of the performances of the Children and Youth’s Stage, the “Educator’s line” as well as seminars and workshops for children.
 
The NTNG Drama School provides full theatre education and works as an incubator for young actors since 1973.
 
Theatre workshops for children and young people led by specialized theatre educators, promotion of new playwrights, playwright contests are some of the parallel activities run by the NTNG, in the context of its education policy.

In 2013, the presentation of a series of theme events entitled “Big Days” was initiated as a new initiative of the NTNG, aiming at introducing important world theatre playwrights to its audiences, through big daily tributes, at the same period when their plays were staged at the National Theatre. The actions are admission free and open to the public.
 
 
In the last few years, special emphasis is given in the theatrical research and the publishing activity of the theatre. The Dramatology and Editions department provide the theoretical framework for the theatrical productions and are responsible for editing the print material that is published on the occasion of each performance. 
 
When the digitization process of the rich historical an artistic theatre archive is accomplished, the archive is preserved in a digital repository, it is fully documented and digitally disseminated through the upgraded interactive website of the NTNG (www.ntng.gr) attracting web visitors, researchers and educators.
 
Since May 1996, the NTNG is a member of the Union of Theatres of Europe and a member of its directorial board until 2013. In the last years, the international presence and activity of the NTNG, not only in Europe, but also in the fragile area of the Balkans and the South-Eastern Europe, was strengthened.

The international presence and activity of the NTNG consists, among others, in a grand Balkan tour, its participation in the International Festival of the Union of Theatres of Europe (Moscow 2012) and the staging of performances and co-productions at important European Theatres. 
 
The international presence and activity of the NTNG unfolds along two axes:
  1. The development of essential collaborations and mutual artistic exchanges with important international theatres.
  2. The frequent and persistent presence of the NTNG abroad, by the expedition of performances to international festivals and the coordination of international tours.

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The educational and pedagogical role of the NTNG is inherently and inseparably a part of the institution’s mission, as it is defined in its constitutional law.
The goal of the National Theatre of Northern Greece is the promotion of the cultural cultivation of the people and the protection of the national cultural identity, through the art of theatre. For this reason, it develops, promotes and teaches the art of theatre, as a cultural, pedagogical, educational and entertaining factor of the social life of Macedonia and Thrace, and of the whole country.” (Law no., National Theatre, National Theatre of Northern Greece and more regulations, 27.12.1994).

Based on this mission, the main goals of the NTNG are the following, among others:
a/ the examination, research and stage teaching of ancient drama.
b/ the promotion and development of Greek dramaturgy.
c./ the presence on stage and performance of classic plays and plays from the world repertoire.
d/ the research, questioning and experimentation in new forms of theatre and scenic expressivity.
e/ the realization of plays for children and the youth.
f/ the provision of theatre education with the foundation of a drama school.
g/ the promotion of international theatre groups exchange of a world theatre collaboration, mostly in the Balkans, the European Union, Europe and the countries where Greek Diaspora is active.
h./ the creation of prerequisites and motives for the emergence and encouragement of the theatre dynamic in Macedonia and Thrace, and in the whole country.
i/ the realization of opera performances, in collaboration with theatre groups in Thessaloniki, the Municipality and other institutions in the city.
 
Below you can find a brief description of the basic means and ways in which the NTNG contributes in the provision of theatre education and the promotion of the art of theatre as a pedagogical and educational factor:

 1. DRAMA SCHOOL

The Drama School of the NTNG was founded in 1973. The programme course lasts for three (3) years and has been provided for free. The preliminary and entry exams take place each September. Per average, 10 to 12 students are annually qualified.
 
The classes taught at the Drama School are the following: Acting-Improvisation, movement, music, theatre, theatre singing, voice education, dramatology, history of Greek and international dramaturgy, history of set and costume design.

In addition to this, theatre workshops are regularly organized by the School, while its students participate in workshops that are organized by European theatres.
The School is equipped with a theatre library for the needs of its students for research and information.
The NTNG has also founded in 2010 the prize “Dimitris Karellis” thus awarding the first distinguished graduate of the Drama School with a money prize.
 
2. EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS 

Since 2002 the NTNG offers Educational Programs addressed to students of primary and secondary education. Parallel to this, educational programs in children’s hospitals are initiated, aiming at getting children that are hospitalized for a long time, in touch with the theatrical praxis. In total 18 educational programs, five of which were presented in hospitals.
 

3. CHILDREN AND YOUTH STAGE 

The NTNG Stage was founded in 1977. Since then, performances of high aesthetics for children and the youth are presented on a yearly basis, aiming not only at entertaining, but also bringing children in touch with seminal texts, introducing the art of theatre, infusing them with important messages and cultivating mature adult audiences.

In 2008 the Youth Stage, hosting plays that are mostly addressing to teenagers, was founded. (Among others, the following plays were presented: Eleni by Euripides and Antigone by Sophocles, two texts that are included in the reading material of the secondary education schools, presented in two exceptionally modern performances, Electra –a modern version of the myth of Atreides–, in an effort to get the teenager students in touch with the myth as a total, as it is found in different versions. A Child Counts the Stars by Menelaos Loundemis, and The Third Wave by Ron Jones (a modern contemplation on the issue of racism that plagues Greek schools).

The NTNG, particularly for the schools that attend the performances of the Children and Youth Stage in groups, and wishing to contribute to the educators’ work and to the facilitation of their contact with theatre, and to be supportive in issues that relate to the exploitation of theatrical approached to education, organizes conversations with the contributors and theatrical actions after the end of each performance, while relevant educational material is distributed to the teachers for further exploitation of the experience of the performance, in the environment of a classroom.
The printed playbills of the related productions (in the context of its social policy, one free copy is provided in each school) contain educational material that refers to the play, and proposed activities for the effective exploitation of each performance.
In addition, there were organized competitions of children’s paintings, inspired by the theme of theatre.

 
4. THEATRE WORKSHOPS

Two workshops have already been organized:
Α) the Theatre Workshop in 2007, which aimed at the theoretical and practical study of theatrical texts, through different contemporary acting approaches, where the participants were young actors, drama school graduates, who were chosen in order to reinforce their theoretical and technical knowledge.
Β) the Theatre Writing Workshop in 2008. The goal of the Theatre Writing Workshop was the systematization and creation of new codes to approach contemporary theatre issues and the contemporary theatrical discourse. After a selection process, potential playwrights, originating from any professional field, participated in the workshop. The courses workshop and seminars are offered to participants for free.

This year, for the first time, the NTNG offers theatre workshops for children and young people (aged 4-17). Including theatre games, improvisation exercises, role-playing and theatre in education techniques, the workshops promote creativity, imagination, self-expression and teamwork. The workshops are led by specialized theatre educators.

 5. VOICE TRAINING WORKSHOPS

The NTNG initiated two seminar circles on voice education in 2010:
Α) voice training workshops for educators, for the facilitation of the class function.
Β) voice training seminars for journalists (in collaboration with the Union of the Writers of Daily Newspapers in Macedonia and Thrace). The seminar attendance was admission free.
 

6. FREE TRAINING FOR DRAMA SCHOOL APPLICANTS

Thanks to a NTNG initiative, free training groups were organized for applicants for the entry exams for Drama Schools all around the country. More specifically, 10 groups of 15 people were active (150 people in total) for two consecutive years (in 2010 and 2011).
 

7. THE EDUCATOR’S LINE

The National Theatre of Northern Greece, wishing to contribute to the work of the educators, facilitate their contact with theatre and provide support in issues regarding theatrical approaches to education, established the “Educator’s Line,” where primary and secondary education teachers can reach the corresponding NTNG office on the phone, and receive information and educational material on the use of theatrical methods and techniques in schools. Information is provided for free.
 
8. EDITIONS

The publishing activity of the NTNG aims to promoting theatre research and provide audiences with important information on the plays and their writers. Established theatre scholars undertake the research and editing of the print material, focusing on texts that are published or translated for the first time in Greece.
The theatre programs often include original theatrical texts published for the first time or CDs with the music of each performance.
In the context of the completion of 50 years from the foundation of the theatre, and on the occasion of the anniversary performance “Small Dionysia” that was presented in the Ancient theatre of Epidaurus, the NTNG managed to make a complete documentation of the ancient drama performances that were staged since the inauguration of the theatre.
In addition to this, the NTNG participated in the publication “Ancient Theatres in Macedonia,” in collaboration with the Union “Frieze.”
One of the top priorities of the NTNG is editing a special edition portfolio on its history.
 

9. UTILIZATION OF THE ARCHIVE – PROMOTION OF RESEARCH

At the foyer of the Vassiliko (Royal) Theatre, the Digital Library of the National Theatre of Northern Greece is open daily – an environment of high aesthetic qualities, whose visitors have access to the digital archive of performances of the NTNG, and to the rich collection of documents and art works that comprise it. 
The access to the cultural artefacts of the theatre is possible from computers that are installed in the room, via an interactive application that was designed in order to respond to any possible question of the visitors regarding the history and theatrical production of the NTNG. More specifically, it allows access and search to 862 theatre productions, from 1961 to the present day, and to 81,200 digital archives that are related with them.
The Digital Library functions in parallel with the NTNG Archive, so that the visitor, on the occasion of his/her browsing through the Library, can also study the hard copies of a publication or the entire folder of a production, access the theatre’s video library in order to watch the video recordings of each performance, or apply for getting copies of certain digital documents that he/she has selected, if needed.
 

10. PROMOTION OF THEATRE WRITING 

On the occasion of the completion of 40 years since its foundation, the NTNG organized the first competition of theatre writing. The first prize (awarded to “Seven Reasonable Answers" by Mr. Leonidas Proussalidis, a first-time playwright)  was presented next year by the NTNG.
Two more competitions of  theatre writing have been organized with four subjects:
- writing a theatre adaptation of the novel “Aeolian Land” by Elias Venezis.
- writing an original theatre play on the inscrutable murder of the American journalist George Polk, in 1947 in Thessaloniki.
- writing an original play inspired by Stratis Tsirkas’ trilogy “Drifting Cities”.
- writing an original theatre adaptation of Nikos Bakola’s novel "Trespass" (Katapatisi).

11. PROMOTION OF NEW PLAYWRIGHTS
 
In May 2013, the NTNG, aiming to bring together theatre people, writers and public, introduced “First Draft”. This was a public reading of six new plays written by six new playwrights. The event was admission free. 
 
12. BIG DAYS
 
In 2013, the NTNG introduced a new initiative: “Big Days”, day-long tributes to prominent writers. Including various activities, “Big Days” aim at introducing audiences to important playwrights, whose plays are currently being staged at the NTNG venues. “Big Days” are admission-free and open to the public.
  
 


In parallel with its entertaining and educational role, the NTNG also accomplishes a social work that corresponds to the needs of the society and the citizens who don’t have access to the theatrical praxis for several reasons. In this context, the following actions have been implemented:
  • Donation of the gross profit of a performance (on the occasion of the International Women’s Day) to “Maria’s Home” (a Single Women’s Guesthouse) and to the Shelter for Abused Women of the Municipality of Thessaloniki.
  • Solidarity to the refugees in Idomeni, Kilkis (in collaboration with the non-governmental organization ARSIS-Association for the Social Support of Youth). The NTNG functioned as a gathering point for goods donated by the citizens. A special NTNG team went to Idomeni, offered the goods to the refugees and implemented a puppet-making workshop, sending the message that whoever dreams can create in any condition.
  • Implementation of the “In-House” program: The NTNG in collaboration with the social services enters the homes of the people that don’t have access to the theatrical praxis. The program broadens its structure and action, with personal visits to individuals that don’t have access to the theatrical praxis, as well as to vulnerable social groups. In the context of this action, the NTNG collaborates with the following entities: Municipality of Neapoli-Sykies (elderly care), Municipality of Thessaloniki (in collaboration with the “Home Care” service), Municipality of Kalamaria (in collaboration with the “Home Care” service), Greek Union for the Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders (EENASD), Red Cross – disabled children, Agios Panteleimon Union of Social Care, Penal Institution of Diavata – Second Chance Schools, Kassandra & Grevena prisons – KETHEA Rehabilitation Program, ITHAKI Therapeutic Community, KAPI (Open Care Center for the Elderly) of Thessaloniki, Center for Recovery and Rehabilitation “Anaplasi”, International Society for Mental Health Services – “Eirmos” Pension.
  • Collaboration with the organization "Make a Wish", for the coordinating of actions that concern the wish fulfilment of children with serious health problems.
  • Free performances in sign language for the deaf and the hearing-impaired. So far, the following performances were given in sign language: “Journey to the Desert” by Giannis Papazoglou (2008), “Dreamer” by the theatre group ArTisit (in the context of the Space Action) (2011), “Letter to a Child...” by Maro Mourdakou (2013).
  • Social Theatre Store (Solidarity Theatre by the NTNG actors). The actors of the National Theatre of Northern Greece, who stick together in crucial times, suggested, directed and performed favourite plays of the world repertoire. The members of the audience were called to present long-lasting food, instead of paying tickets, which in their turn are offered in social institutions. More specifically, the NTNG has collaborated with the following organizations and institutions for the food distribution: The Smile of the Child, Greek Chilrden’s Village, “Melissa” Girl’s Orphanage, Papafeio Institution & Single Mother Safe House “Maria’s Home.” 
  • Actions in collaboration with the bike group Bike Respect, for the facilitation of bikes and the unobstructed access to bike lanes. 
  • Collaborations with the groups “Children in Action” and “Sfina” for youthful and ecological interventions in the city. 
  • Additionally, the NTNG lends props to organizations, theatre groups, students et al., and allows free admission to its performances to the vulnerable social groups. In the context of group visits to the performances of the Children and Youth Stage of the NTNG, a number of free admission tickets is intended for unprivileged students. 
  • The NTNG has already responded positively to some of the following institutions’ requests for free admission to its performances: Day Hospital (Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki), Parents and Guardians Guilds of Kindergartens and Primary Schools, Thessaloniki’s Society for the Protection of Minors, International Centre for Mental Health Services, Psychiatric Hospital’s Education and Rehabilitation Centre, “Zephyros” Boarding House of Evosmos, “Estia” Day Centre, ΟΚΑΝΑ, Psychiatric Hospital’s School Unit, Department of Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts “Ianos”,  Médecins du Monde, SOS Greek Children’s Village, The Smile of the Child, “Melissa” Girl’s Orphanage, Papafeio Institution, Drama’s Chronic Diseases Infirmary, Social Support and Creative Occupation Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled People “O Sotir”, “Chryssalida” boarding house of the Psychiatric Hospital of Thessaloniki, International Society for Mental Health (ISMHO) et al.
 
Since May 1996, the NTNG is a member of the Union of Theatres of Europe and a member of its directorial board until 2013. In the last years, the international presence and activity of the NTNG, not only in Europe, but also in the fragile area of the Balkans and the South-Eastern Europe, was strengthened.
The international presence and activity of the NTNG consists, among others, of a grand Balkan tour, participation in the International Festival of the Union of Theatres of Europe (Moscow 2012) and the staging of performances and co-productions at important European Theatres.
 
The international presence and activity of the NTNG unfolds along two axes:
  • The development of essential collaborations and mutual artistic exchanges with important international theatres.
  • The frequent and persistent presence of the NTNG abroad, by the expedition of performances to international festivals and the coordination of international tours. 
During 2014-15 theatre season, the following international activities were realized:
- The NTNG participated in the Union of Theatres of Europe Masterclass with the director Victor Bodó in Porto, Portugal.
- The award-winning performance “Min(d)ing Ibsen: An Enemy of the People meets the People” traveled to Norway and took part in Ibsen Festival.
-The production “Lysistrata project” was presented at the international festival Art Carnuntum in Austria in October 2014.
-The NTNG and Constance Youth Theatre’s international co-production “Utopia in progress” was presented at Dimitria Festival in November 2014.
-The NTNG participated in the Union of Theatres of Europe “TERRORisms” program with the “The Price” by Arthur Miller.
-The NTNG participated in the European Union’s “Creative Europe” program with two international collaborations.
-The NTNG participated in an International Acting Workshop organized by Teatro di Roma (July 2015) and Schauspielhaus Bochum (August 2015).

For 2015-16, the NTNG has scheduled an international tour of “Plato's Apology of Socrates” directed by Dimos Avdeliodis. To be more specific, the production will be presented at the National Theatres of Bucharest and Craiova. In March 2016, the performance will be presented at Hanoi Opera House in Vietnam, on the occasion of 40 years of diplomatic relations with our country.