Greeks in Australia celebrate Greece’s Independence Day

The members of the Port Adelaide Greek Orthodox Community of SA launched a series of events to honour and commemorate the 200-year-anniversary of the commencement of the Greek War of Independence with a moving theatrical performance based on one of the written stories of Dionysios Solomos, the national poet of Greece, as well as through poetry readings, traditional singing and dance performances.

The play, titled the “Women of Mesolongi” was held last Sunday at the Woodville Town Hall in front of a crowd of 300 people and dignitaries including SA Bishop Silouan of Sinope, Consul General of Greece in Adelaide Giorgios Psiahas, Mayor of Port Adelaide Claire Boan.

The play’s Educator and Director Kostas Fotiadis (Solomos) together with Alexandra Vakitsidou, award-winning Woman and Citizen of the Year, held the main roles together with Giorgios Parhas who played Solomos’ friend ‘the doctor’ and a cast of 15 actors that supported the production.

The “Women of Mesolongi” is based on Solomos’ short story, titled “The Woman of Zakynthos”. The poet, who also authored the Greek national anthem wrote the work in 1826 and set it on the shores of Zakynthos, opposite the besieged Mesolongi, where Solomos and his friend, the doctor, hear the sound of the cannons.

The work was created as a critique of the behaviour of certain aristocratic circles in Zakynthos towards the women of Mesolongi who resorted to begging in order to support the resistance fighters during the siege of their town.

Every day the women of Mesolongi would gather on the shore to mourn their loved ones who had died and to pray for those who were left to fight for the salvation and liberation of Mesolongi.

Solomos and his friend use their imagination to feel closer to the characters, while praising the immortality of those who sacrificed themselves for freedom.

The production also included poetry reading, hymns by St John of Damascus Byzantine Choir, as well as traditional songs and dances performed by the Port Adelaide Greek School Dance Group and Choir.

“It has been without a doubt a difficult and challenging year and I am really pleased that despite everything we have had to face, including the fire in our church and the COVID-19 pandemic, our community once again and stronger than ever came together to honor our ancestors in such respectful way,” Port Adelaide Community of SA President John Douvartzidis told Neos Kosmos.

Alexandra Vakitsidis reciting “Free Besieged”. Photo: Supplied

“In particular, I would like to mention a couple key persons, firstly our visionary, Alexandra Vakitsidis, whose energy and efforts over a long period cannot be matched by any of us and secondly our leader, our Director Kosta Fotiadis, who listened to our needs and brought it all together into one special performance today,” continued President Douvartzidis.
Prior to the play commencing, the crowd joined Greek Australian singer Tsambika De George, in singing the Greek National Anthem, followed by 17-year-old student and sixth generation descendant of the family of Dionysios Solomos, Varvara Solomos who recited an excerpt from the “Free Besieged”, a poem written by her ancestor.

“I feel content, happy and proud that our hard work paid off and that we managed to bring this play together in such a respectful manner. I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in our community when I say that it is our moral responsibility to honor our past and our history, and lead by example so that our children and our grandchildren remember their roots and feel proud of their ancestors,” Alexandra Vakitsidis told Neos Kosmos.

An additional performance of the play ‘The Women of Mesolongi’ will be held on Sunday 28 February.

All proceeds will go towards The Port Adelaide Greek Orthodox Community in support of the Greek School and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity of Christ one of the most loved and popular Greek churches in SA that was partially ruined after the catastrophic fire in December 2019 and is currently undergoing major renovations.