A dark stage came to life with the first notes of the emotional song “Xenitia,” about exile and departure as the first “immigrants” emerged onto the stage, accompanied by the haunting voices of Nikos Kouroupakis and Eirini Tornesaki.
Such was the opening of the long-awaited 2017 Gabby Awards at Carnegie Hall.
Twenty actors came together to bring to life true stories of Greek Immigrants arriving in New York City at the beginning of the century. Every story performed on stage was based on true life events and researched meticulously by Theodora Loukas, who also directed the actors.
Twenty actors, 6 different stories, all in a span of 6 minutes.
The arrival of immigrants at Ellis Island… A doctor’s eye exam leads to a family separation… A picture bride finds her groom and to their surprise they fall in love… Final paperwork check and distribution of landing cards leads to a woman’s detention for possible immoral character due to her traveling alone… Detention of an underage girl traveling in a group of 3 children due to lack of supervision … they would be released after a while… and final arrival of immigrants in New York City and assimilation into American society as the actors emerged from the stage and became one with the audience.
On screen, real archival footage played, accompanying the actors, while quotes from actual interviews appeared on screen courtesy of the oral archives from the Ellis Island Museum.
Concept: Gregory Pappas
Artistic Direction: Nikos Kouroupakis
Vocals: Nikos Kouroupakis and Eirini Tornesaki
Musicans: Lefteris Kordis, Costas Baltazanis, Lefteris Bournias, Damian Dudu, Petros Klampanis, Vasilis Kostas, George Psarras, Paul Psarras
Song: “Xenitia” (Lyrics: Lina Nikolakopoulou, Music: Ara Dinkjian)
Casting: Theodora Loukas and Anthoula Katsimatides
Research, Story Development and Directing: Theodora Loukas
Costumes: Argy Koutsothanasis
Props: Penelope Bouklas
Actors: Christos Alexandridis, Evangelos Alexiou, Yanni Amouris, Ioannis Backogeorgos, Ino Badanjak, Lowell Byers, Ioanna Chasta, Kalia Kalia Christopher, Nick Diamantis, Elena Kamberis, Christiana Kandilioti, Haroula Katsanevakis, Anthoula Katsimatides, Manolis Lambrakis, Theodora Loukas, Iphigenia Petra, Alexa Politis, John Solo, Jenna Zafiropoulos Twins
Back stage at Carnegie Hall, actors prepare for their appearance on stage. No detail was spared– from costumes to landing papers and tags pinned to immigrants as they arrived. Photos by Ioannis Backogeorgos