The Rialto Theatre was created both as a stage for performing arts as well as a nonprofit cultural Organization by the Limassol Co-Operative Savings Bank. The Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth forms its most important contributor.
Since 1999, it has been organising, producing, promoting and hosting productions from the entire spectrum of performing arts. Its mission is to educate and develop the local audience, while showcasing and promoting the work of Cypriot artists and creators.
Over the years, the Organisation has developed and established an excellent network of collaborations and partnerships with other like-minded cultural organisations and theatres across the world. In addition to its state-of-the-art infrastructure, the Rialto Theatre also disposes of highly-skilled personnel, including professionals with know-how, experience and expertise in the field of cultural production and management.
During these past 21 years, the Rialto Theatre has hosted almost two million spectators and thousands of events, thus establishing itself as one of the most important and reliable cultural actors in Cyprus and abroad.
The Rialto Theatre manages and produces cultural events from Cyprus and abroad, while implementing theatre, film, dance and music events, hosting them mostly, yet not exclusively, in its own theatre. Some of its own productions, organised in collaboration with other institutions, have been presented to theatres in other cities, squares, ancient theatres and elsewhere.
For many years now, the Rialto Theatre has been organising and producing the following annual events and festivals in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth: Cyprus Film Days International Festival, International Short Film Festival of Cyprus, Cyprus Contemporary Dance Festival, Cyprus Choreography Platform, Drama Short Film Festival travels to Cyprus, Cyprus Jazz and World Music Showcase, and since March 2020, the Cyprus Choreography Showcase aiming to present the work of Cypriot choreographers internationally.
The Rialto Theatre disposes of a large network of spectators, having established effective mechanisms for the promotion and screening of events, as well as an electronic ticketing system. Its annual budget exceeds one million euro and its programme includes more than 200 events annually.
The Organisation is a member of the Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals, while most of the festivals organised by the Rialto Theatre have received the EFFE Label – Europe’s quality stamp for remarkable art festivals.
The Rialto Cinema was originally built in 1930 by the Chrysochou Brothers and was the first modern, by the standards of the age, cinema in Cyprus. Hosting both film as well as theatre productions, it remained a lively focal point in the cultural life of Limassol for nearly fifty years. Facing first the rise of television and video, followed by the social upheaval brought about by the 1974 invasion that split Cyprus in two, the cinema fell into disuse and finally closed its doors to the public in the mid-1980’s.
And while other old cinemas were being levelled and the old city was being sacrificed to the altar of a controversial development programme, the Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank bought the abandoned cinema, in February 1991, subsequently refurbishing and putting it back in operation.
The “new” Rialto, preserving important pieces of its past yet, completed with exceptionally modern equipment and substructures, re-opened its doors to the public in May 15, 1999, with a series of brilliant and moving cultural performances, welcoming audiences with the aid of Mikis Theodorakis, Michalis Kakoyiannis and other distinguished guests from Cyprus and Greece.
The thrill of the first weeks for the return of the historical theatre and of Heroes’ Square to the town and its people has gradually given place to the constant delight and satisfaction of an international public, through the variety of cultural and entertainment possibilities that the organization offers.
Each year hundreds of performances organized inside the theatre and outdoors, attract thousands of spectators, establishing Rialto Theatre as one of the most important cultural institutions of the country.
• To continue organising and providing substructures for a wide range of major professional events in Limassol and contributing to the overall cultural development of the town.
• To serve impeccably the needs of our audience, our artists/performers and our sponsors as a youthful, buzzing and efficient theatrical organization.
• To sustain the cultural growth of economically sensitive groups by means of keeping ticket costs low through efficient subsidization.
• To provide the opportunity and the substructure to local creators and associations to present works of quality.
• To keep ahead of contemporary communication and advertising by the efficient use of internet technology. To reach out to the younger audiences in this way and become more involved in their lives.
• To provide timely information about the theatre’s activities to audiences in Cyprus and abroad communicating in Greek, English and Russian.
• To continue the contribution to the upgrade of Limassol’s cultural identity as a town with a distinct cultural profile and activity, through Rialto events and festivals.
• To sustain the multifaceted incorporation of Heroes’ Square – an important and yet, till recently, downgraded area – into the life Limassol.
• To organise guided tours for students of elementary and secondary education aiming to familiarize them with the theatre as a venue and as an organization.
This year, the Rialto Theatre in its new form, celebrates two decades of presence. This edition encloses historic performances, experimental approaches, great artists, as well as memories, experiences and emotions constituting the modern history of the Theatre and the city in general.
The objective of this edition is to outline the course of these twenty years, as well as to reflect the extent, the scope and diversity of the Rialto Theatre that became established as one of the most important internationally reputed cultural associations and venues of Cyprus.
With the mission of encouraging and promoting upcoming and established Cypriot artists, as well as organising events that cover the entire spectrum of performing arts, always maintaining a high quality and aesthetic standard, the dynamic presence of the Rialto Theatre, following the restoration of the historic cinema by the Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank in 1999, has expanded the limits and increased the importance of Culture in the life of local people, making Limassol yet again the capital of Culture and Civilisation.
Twenty years later, the Rialto Theatre continues to adopt the same philosophy and vision, skilfully balancing on the line between the local and international scene, the past and the future, the modern and the classic, between education and entertainment, offering a rich cultural programme that is both open and accessible to everyone.
The knowhow and excellent organisation of the theatre, its infrastructure and adequate production conditions enhance the work of Cypriot and international artists, contribute to the successful staging and hosting of performances from Cyprus and abroad, as well as to the management and implementation of large-scale events. Among its leading events are the international film, music and dance festivals, co-organised by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture. During the past years, these major events took root and flourished in Limassol, contributing to the cultural decentralisation of the island, which was very much needed twenty years ago.
Today, hundreds of artists from Cyprus and abroad, established professionals and prominent personalities from every corner of the world participate in these festivals that have managed to place Cyprus on the world cultural map. Thanks to their high artistic standard, as well as their extroverted and international character, all six festivals organised by the Rialto Theatre have received the EFFE Label – Europe’s quality stamp for remarkable art festivals.
However, the Rialto Theatre is not only accessible to the society through its artistic programme. It constantly builds bridges of communication and interaction with institutions, universities, embassies and cultural institutions, hence enhancing the broader social, educational and cultural fabric of our society. Within the same spirit, it also hosts and organises performances for children and students, educational tours and visits, thus investing in every possible way in tomorrow’s spectators.
For several years, artists and viewers alike have been meeting on stage, within the context of alternative performances. Every summer, the SEK parking place becomes transformed into an open-air cinema and the Heroes’ Square into a big music stage. Thousands of viewers, mainly young people, attend the World Music Festival every July, an internationally renowned music event with free entrance that is part of the European Forum, incorporating educational programmes and residencies.
Today’s Heroes’ Square with Cyprus University of Technology, Dance House Lemesos, the galleries, restaurants, cafés and bars that surround it, testifies to the contribution of the Rialto Theatre in the transformation of the then “notorious” square into today’s thriving cultural neighbourhood, demonstrating that Culture can be the driving force for the development of an entire region.
Leaving behind these first twenty years, the Rialto Theatre looks towards the contemporary challenges of Arts and Society, longing for a sustainable future that will unfailingly manifest the timeless universal values of Culture.
RIALTO THEATRE 1999 – 2019
In the heart of the emblematic Heroes’ Square
in Limassol, Cyprus, the all-time cultural centre of the island.
A generous contribution of Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank.
The building restoration together with the smooth functioning of the Rialto Theatre since 1999 may be justifiably characterised as a flagship event of social contribution and activity, not only for Limassol but also for the entire island.
The progressive initiative of Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank to save the old cinema-theatre from its demolition and transformation into a parking place, as well as to restore it, maintaining its iconic façade, to amend its interior spaces and add the most adequate equipment for a contemporary theatre, was a breath of fresh air amidst the concrete of the 21st century. In an era highly marked by cultural and social decay, this was the most groundbreaking and innovative act.
Saving the Rialto Theatre was an unprecedented initiative by Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank, which was spanning its fifth decade at the time, was enjoying financial strength due to its responsible policy and was having a clear orientation representing the interests of its members and the city. Indeed, it was a wilful gesture to give back to the city as much as possible from what the Bank had achieved, mainly thanks to the love and trust of Limassolians towards their Savings Bank.
Having therefore supported ten thousand families and having built an overwhelmingly high percentage of the city of Limassol in the 2000’s, the LCSB attentively listened to the cultural needs and desires of the citizens, it cooperated with its representatives and, in May 1999, it delivered the restored Rialto Theatre in the heart of its most iconic neighbourhood: following a relatively short period since the re-opening of the Theatre, the Heroes’ Square regained its old glory.
Twenty years of continuous action, counting approximately 3500 performances covering the entire spectrum of performing arts and more than one and a half million viewers in the Theatre and the Square, marked the identity of the Rialto and established it as a significant and trustworthy cultural fabric of the Cypriot society, as well as the most important private non-profit cultural organisation of Cyprus, with an international reputation.
In addition to the contribution of the LCSB and the civil society, one cannot help but notice the undeniable contribution of the State - which will hopefully remain unchanged - mainly reflected through the collaboration between the Theatre and the Cultural Services represented by valuable officials.
Last but not least, the achievements of the Rialto Theatre, despite the stereotype, would have been poorer if its dozen employees, constituting the management, administration and technical department of the Organisation, did not wholeheartedly dedicate their soul to the Theatre. In addition to them, it is important to mention its temporary employees and external collaborators.
Together with the Rialto’s personnel and my colleagues – members of the Board of Directors, who selflessly serve the Theatre and, for this reason, I dearly thank them – we truly promise that we will continue to work with the same zeal in order to keep the Theatre as high as it deserves and is entitled to. We also hope that our successors will do the same.
President of the Board
HISTORY, ART AND AESTHETICS
“What news on the Rialto?”
From “The Merchant of Venice”
by William Shakespeare
RIALTO. A peculiar name is unexpectedly travelling from Venice to Limassol. From the prosperous commercial centre of the magnificent Italian city with the famous bridge, the Ponte di Rialto, it lies within a poor Turkish Cypriot neighbourhood – “mahallah” – called “Kkesoglouthkia”, later on known as the “Heroes’ Square”. A synonym of natural beauty, romanticism, carnival and entrepreneurship, with its name deriving from “Rivus Altus” (meaning high bank), the Rialto Theatre set itself a high objective: to bring a fresh air of change. With its pioneering vision of regeneration and innovation, it filled Limassolians with an unprecedented sense of Art and Creativity. The new cinema-theatre, which became the reason for restoring and embellishing the existing dirt square, was soon transformed into the landmark of the city, the epicentre of the cultural, social and even political life of Limassol.
Rialto’s initiators in the early ‘30s were the Chrysochou Brothers, from the Dodecanese islands, who were experienced and ambitious businessmen, having lived in America, as well as art aficionados and managers of the “Hadjipavlou Theatre”. The Chrysochou Brothers did not only wish to create a new and convenient venue for shows and performances, but also one of the best and most contemporary theatres of the East. For this reason, they commissioned the well-reputed architect and engineer, German Jewish Benjamin Günsberg, from the Cypriot Contracting Company, who designed and built a modern yet functional theatre with an orchestra, a balcony, boxes, a big stage, several dressing rooms and a basement smoking room – an innovative space for the time. The new architectural and cultural jewel of Limassol was inaugurated on 26th March 1933.
The Rialto had overwhelmingly influenced the revival of the entire neighbourhood and the “Kkesoglouthkia” square, which took its name from Kkeseoglou, an Ottoman agha who had set up a harem of court ladies: “…[…] his odalisques were waiting their turn for semen reception, in order to reproduce new Keseoglou offsprings” (The Heroes’ Square, article by M. Pitsillidis). During this time, various mud brick houses and premises were being demolished by the Municipality, and a square with trees and green fences, with a water reservoir in its centre, began to form. The first stone buildings were constructed all around the square, which began to fill with coffee shops, pastry shops, taverns, kebab houses, baths and cabarets with dance shows. However, what truly left its mark in the area was the construction of a Heroes’ Monument - while Mayor Ploutis Servas was in office - inaugurated on the 28th of October 1948. Many citizens had contributed in the making of the Monument, which was designed by painter Charilaos Dikaios and built by sculptor Chrysostomos Perdios. Among those, were Turkish Cypriots who had helped in the fundraising organised by the National Coalition for Liberation under the guidance of the Progressive Party of Working People. The paving of the area was voluntarily undertaken by builders who were trade union members. It was then that the “Kkesoglouthkia” square was renamed to Heroes’ Square.
The visionary Chrysochou Brothers did not have the chance to see Rialto’s progress as owners since they soon after sold the theatre to the N.P. Lanitis company. The theatre was initially rented to Nikos Kyprianou, the owner of “Magic Palace” and “Magic Garden” cinemas in Nicosia, who was the first person to bring film equipment and films in Cyprus. Later on, the management of the theatre was assigned to Christoforos Malakasas, an employee of the Lanitis company. For nearly half a century, Malakasas was the soul of the theatre with his name being identified to Rialto to such extent, that local people thought he owned the theatre himself. During this period, many artistic shows, carnival parties and even political gatherings were organised at the Rialto and the Heroes’ Square. The theatre did not only screen Greek and foreign films, but it also presented the work of theatre troupes, music bands, dance groups and choirs. Moreover, it organised poetry events and opera concerts by the pioneer musician Solon Michaelides. Official ceremonies, gatherings of workers, farmers, trade unions and parties also used to take place at the Rialto and the Heroes’ Square, as well as medical and other conferences. One of the most glorious events that took place at the Heroes’ Square was the granting of the silver key of Limassol to the world’s first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, and his designation as an honorary citizen of Limassol.
Yet it is also worth mentioning that, at this time, the Square began to acquire a different character, becoming the Square of “Heroines”. Cabarets, as family entertainment venues with music and dance shows, slowly began to lose their glory, becoming entertainment clubs for men. All around the Square, brothels began to increase in number.
The ‘80s was considered to be the decade of decline for the Rialto Theatre and the Heroes’ Square. The increase of violence and criminality, as well as the fierce competition of the underworld based around the Heroes’ Square, which became the most notorious area of Limassol, in combination with the passing of Christoforos Malakasas, the entertainment tax, the opening of Pattichio Municipal Theatre in 1987, as well as the appearance and rapid development of video that wrecked significant damage to cinemas, had all led to Rialto’s closing. N.P. Lanitis decided that it would sell or demolish the theatre. During this post-invasion period of unrestrained and uncontrolled development, bulldozers left nothing standing. In the name of the city’s “development”, historic buildings and traditional houses were being demolished. But as soon as the citizens of Limassol heard about the demolishing of the Rialto Theatre, they immediately reacted. Amidst the general deterioration, corruption and decline of the Heroes’ Square, where prostitution, drugs and crime flourished, a number of concerned citizens considered that by rescuing the theatre, they would not only fulfil their duty of saving an important part of their individual memory and the history of the city, but that they would also mark a new beginning for the reconstruction of the theatre, together with the renovation and revival of the Square.
Fortunately, the citizens’ initiatives and mobilisations were taken into serious consideration by another historic “lung” of the city that wrote its own glorious history by significantly contributing to its economic and social development. Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank, established in 1946 and having its first headquarters at Heroes’ Square, by staying loyal to the mutual relationship of trust built between the bank and the citizens and by demonstrating a great sense of cultural responsibility, bought the deserted and menaced by demolition theatre, at the eleventh hour, in 1991 for the amount of 170.000 Cypriot pounds. This life-saving intervention of the LCSB, as well as the wise decision of the Board of Directors and the Management to create a contemporary and adequately equipped theatre that would cover the needs of artists and fully satisfy all art enthusiasts, prompted the general restoration and revival of the Heroes’ Square, the way it was done back then when it was first founded. Limassol Municipality and the Ministry of Education and Culture both collaborated to this social and cultural endeavour that would radically reshape the cultural life not only of Limassol, but of Cyprus in general, and that would change the face and life of a historic neighbourhood of Limassol. The architectural plans of the new Rialto Theatre were designed by Themis Themistokleous.
Today, the Heroes’ Square with its iconic building, the Rialto Theatre, which also hosts a wide range of open-air events, such as the World Music, Jazz and Rock Festivals attracting many viewers, is surrounded by faculties and student halls of the Cyprus University of Technology, as well as by cultural associations such as Limassol Dance House and “Pegasos” gallery, Aris sports club, music stages, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Just like when it was first built, the Rialto continues to operate as a catalyst bringing joy, verve and beauty to Limassol. It became yet again the “progenitor proud of its offsprings”, as the late playwright Michalis Pitsillides, one of the most important intellectuals of Limassol and Cyprus, once characterised the old Rialto.
Unfortunately, the saviour and re-creator of the Theatre, the Limassol Cooperative Savings Bank, no longer exists. Being the healthiest financial institution with a significant contribution to the social, economic and cultural development of Cyprus, it certainly did not die of “economic heart failure”, but rather of “criminal political negligence”. Yet the theatre continues undeterred, with greater persistence than ever. Not only does it remain loyal, guided by the triptych – respect to the Arts, the Artist and the Viewer – but it also enhances its quality, creates new bonds and expands its social and educational action. It empowers its relations with long-standing institutions, such as Cyprus Theatre Organisation, Cyprus Symphony Orchestra and Kypria International Festival. In collaboration with the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Rialto co-organises six Pancyprian festivals – three film festivals, two dance festivals and one music festival. It collaborates with Limassol and Cyprus-based artistic groups, philharmonic orchestras, choirs, dance groups and cultural associations, while promoting young Cypriot artists and expanding its collaboration with artists from Greece and abroad. It also adopts and makes great use of new technology: with the series of internationally-acclaimed screenings, broadcast live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera (MET LIVE in HD), London’s National Theatre (NT Live) and the Royal Opera House (Royal Ballet), it offers a rare opportunity to art enthusiasts not only to watch high-quality opera, ballet, theatre and classical music performances, but also to remain up to date with the international cultural scene and meet the work of prominent artists from these fields of performing arts.
“Life, Death and Art in between”.
The creation of a contemporary theatre, such as the Rialto Theatre, is a cultural action with social dimensions. It is a celebration of the Arts. The Arts constitute an inherent part of the human being. Just like sciences, they are a special form of creative energy, based on natural talent, which is then enhanced with acquired knowledge and experience. The Arts offer another dimension to life, demonstrating that the human being, beyond all physical and material needs, beyond his concern for survival and improvement of working and living conditions, also has intellectual, moral and aesthetic needs. He is not only interested in staying alive, but in living a fine and beautiful life. He is not only engaged in professional activity, he also seeks entertainment. He is not only interested in how long he will live, but in how he will do so. Imagine how life would be without the Arts. How infertile, colourless, cold, lifeless, poor and miserable it would be. How anti-romantic, loveless and senseless would people be without music, singing, poetry, dancing, cinema, painting…
As the most free and borderless form of expression of human creativity and inventiveness, the Arts are inspired by the visible and invisible world, by the obvious, the fantastic, the intimate, by the smaller or the biggest and most incredible subject, by a teardrop, a falling star, a national liberation struggle or a social revolution, by the arrogance of power, by a lonely or different man. Reflecting the world’s contradictory character and the struggle between the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly, the fair and the unfair, the Arts have the power to move, to shake, to surprise, to provoke, to contest, to agitate, to keep man in intellectual, ethical and aesthetic awareness. “Art exists because it dissects the functioning of the human being”, Manos Hadjidakis once said. “Art mobilises his sensitivities. His real sensitivities. Not the temporary ones. Art completes the human being. It guides him to understand his inclination, even for a little while. And by ‘art’, I mean great art”.
When bombs tear the veins of the sky, the earth and the sea, when the warmongering dream-killers and hope-thieves make imperialistic wars in the name of profit, power and global dominion, when they destroy countries and slaughter people, the Arts do not keep quiet. When caravans with refugees and immigrants cross the snowy mountains, the hot deserts and the stormy seas, leaving behind thousands of souls in the raging waves, the minefields, the barbed wires and the borders of shame, the Arts do not keep quiet. The Arts do not hide when they see poor mothers with an empty gaze hopelessly holding their emaciated children, nor when they see fathers kneeling, grieving and roaring, bidding farewell to young dead bodies, that instead of making the most out of life, they sacrifice it “for a phantom, an empty tunic - all for a Helen” (Seferis - Helen).
The Arts do not turn their gaze away when people are being militarised, when mass destruction guns are being modernised, when a nuclear war is hanging above humanity like the sword of Damocles. They do not whistle indifferently when the technological frenzy and compulsive consumption lead man to the destruction of natural environment, transforming Mother-Earth into a prostitute of the universe. They do not stick their heads in the sand when they see homeless people, unemployed, beggars, outcasts, drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, terrorists and murderers…
The Arts are not afraid of colliding with fascism, Nazism, nationalism, racism, chauvinism, religious fundamentalism, ideologies that spread hatred, fear or violence, victoriously boasting around with their avenging sword, mocking the human being, screaming and taking pride “without reflection, without mercy, without shame” (Cavafy - Walls) in being the “midwife” of History.
The Arts do not shut their eyes in front of power and the status quo. They expose arrogance, narcissism, greediness, usurpation, lies, nepotism, hypocrisy, opportunism, corruption, selfishness… The Arts do not leave conformism, mithridatism, the ensconced, surrendered, apathetic and indifferent human being go unpunished and, instead, condemn them through irony and criticise tolerance that ends up becoming complicity.
In the modern era of the Cyber world and electronic feelings, the Arts address and decrypt the future. They are inspired by technological achievements, artificial intelligence, cloning, the bionic meta-man, the extra-terrestrial life and space immigration, always taking into consideration the moral dilemmas deriving from the inconceivable and unpredictable evolution of the human mind.
Yet the Arts are not limited to denouncing and criticising. They showcase the most positive and beautiful actions of humans, too. They praise heroic death and self-sacrifice in the name of the highest ideals, they embrace unselfishness, fairness, honesty, graciousness, humility. But mostly, they praise love, they narrate, sing, paint, carve and dance for love. Sophocles’ Antigone screams from the bottom of her heart: “I was born to share love, not hatred”. Ritsos motivates his readers: “We sing to bring people together”. And John Lennon sings: “Imagine all the people living life in peace”.
What are, therefore, the Arts that so flawlessly blossom and flourish at the Rialto? They have always had an interactive character. They have the ability to stimulate the senses, emotions, reasoning and ethics of man. They, thus, significantly contribute to his aesthetic, moral, intellectual and ethical development. The artistic entertainment and aesthetic enjoyment have the ability to become transformed into a philosophical and moral reflection. So, the Arts become the bearers of great universal values. Freedom, democracy, equality, justice, peace, solidarity, dignity, respect towards diversity, love for Mother-Earth. These are the universal values promoted through the Arts, which compose human civilisation and militate against barbarism. The Arts, thus, insist on refining, civilising and humanising Man. And the Rialto’s art is that it serves Art.
The restored Rialto Theatre, based on this humanistic perception of the Arts and their role in the society, has been operating for the past 20 years. The non-profit organisation that undertook the management and policy-making of the new theatre of Limassol has set a very high standard of quality as far as its performances are concerned, and even higher as to its objectives and visions. It, therefore, managed to become established as a house of culture, contributing to the promotion of the Arts and high-quality entertainment, by incorporating them in the daily life and lifestyle of the citizens. The theatre had already marked its artistic imprint back in May 1999 when it was inaugurated. With the presence of Mikis Theodorakis and Michael Cacoyiannis, with opera, cinema, theatre, classical and high-quality music, it outlined a course of quality that remains stable ever since. Its work is judged by the attendance of the audience, the extended applause and the cheering of the spectators, the smile and the bright eyes of inner euphoria felt by the human being when surrounded by the sunlight of Culture. It is also visible in the words of thanks by the artists to the audience for embracing and welcoming their performance, as well as for the willing service of the management and the personnel of the theatre. The Rialto has the right to feel immensely proud because, during these past 20 years, it managed to attract and create an audience with a high aesthetic criterion, that is not only eager to discover a performance, but it is confident that such performance is of a high aesthetic value regardless of each spectator’s subjective judgment about what is acceptable and beautiful or not.
“Beauty will save the world”
By promoting the Arts, the Rialto Theatre also promotes Aesthetics, the interest and the love of beauty. It aims at showcasing and promoting another approach of life, based on the intellectual culture, since it believes that this culture is not only a basic human need, but a key driving force for social and individual growth. Intellectual culture, in the sense of aesthetics promoting ethos, harmony and beauty, is also an invaluable “property” of the state, the city and the citizen. Let us not forget that when we want to feel a sense of collective pride, we refer to the artistic work of intellectuals and great artists, we praise and glorify our intellectual, rather than our material culture.
We unfortunately live amidst a contradictory and anti-aesthetic era, dominated by the materialistic perception of life and by consumerism, an ideology characterised by the furious trend of man to buy and consume material things, believing that only these will grant him happiness and recognition. By divinising money, man becomes its servant, using up his energy and vision for acquiring wealth, clinging to materialism. The multidimensional Homo Sapiens is evolving into a one-dimensional Homo Consumens. “I think therefore I am” is being replaced by “I consume therefore I am”, adopting at the same time the derogatory doctrine “Consume and stop thinking”, which so skilfully submits to and is imposed by the dominant capitalist system.
Within this materialistic atmosphere, the highly mechanised and manipulated human being is sarcastically asking himself: Why do I need theatres, museums, libraries? Why should I read literature and go to concerts, watch theatrical plays and dance shows? What can they offer me, since the key to happiness is found in money and material well-being? This anti-aesthetic perception has led to the intellectual, moral and political decay of man, who walks away from Culture, from his roots and traditions, betrays his moral values and loses his reputation as a cultured citizen with social and environmental concerns, with critical thinking and intervention, with aesthetic quests, with political and moral responsibilities.
The anti-aesthetic human being easily sacrifices beauty and the common good, and is capable of any sacrifice or action, on the altar of money, luxurious life, reputation and power. Besides, isn’t this the anti-aesthetic image projected by the modern Cypriot society? Corruption, entanglement of interests, scandals, bribery, lack of meritocracy, unrestrained and uncontrolled development, environmental destruction, increase of violence, criminality, drugs, footballisation and soap oper-isation of the mind and the feelings, general apathy and indifference. Political leaders, parties, ministers, MPs, mayors, public servants, judges, bankers, entrepreneurs, lawyers and accountants, football actors, crisis in health, education and sports. An entire system of relations and institutions is in a state of decay and corruption. Amidst all these, a black nationalist and fascist snake is cunningly crawling and rattling within a society that is whistling with an air of indifference.
Opposite this anti-aesthetic image, the social dishonesty and dystopia, the Rialto Theatre operates as a barrier, together with artists, intellectuals and other cultural associations. With its cultural action and social sensitivity, its human-oriented aesthetic policy, the Theatre responds to ugliness and manipulation by organising events that bring joy and beauty, by showcasing an artistic work of high quality operating as a form of resistance to the modern multileveled blasphemy, as a form of catharsis, self-awareness, critical reflection and alertness. In this materialistic, alienating and imposed lifestyle, TV stupefaction and socio-political corruption, the Rialto Theatre suggests an aesthetic, intellectual and ethical culture through the Arts. “Life must be inspired by the Arts”, said Oscar Wilde, aiming to highlight that within the free and creative environment of Culture, the great values of humanity and beauty of life are revealed.
The Rialto belongs to those powers that believe and promote the idea that the quality of life of a country, a city, a person does not merely rely on economic growth, or on the increase of per capita income and material well-being, which are undeniably important. Quality of life is also based on cultural development, the increase of per capita culture, on the moral, intellectual and aesthetic well-being. Primary surpluses and indexes of economic progress are worth nothing if society is dominated by an intellectual, moral and aesthetic deficit.
Life is a matter of aesthetics. This is the philosophy of the Rialto Theatre, which is also embraced by the art lovers of the city. The audience can be certain that the management, the administration and the personnel of the Rialto Theatre will continue to take care of it and to treat it as one of the most precious jewels of Limassol, and that they will continue, with the same degree of commitment, to generously offer the aesthetic gifts of Art, showcasing the very best of noble Culture.
These were the “latest news on the Rialto”.
Doctor of Philosophy