When in 1997, the Board of Directors of the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute decided, after a suggestion by the then director, Mr. Nicos Shafkalis, to launch the “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama”, it was motivated by one ambition: to give ancient Greek drama a wider presence in the theatrical activities of the island and thus contribute to the building of theatrical sensibility among the people, by offering them entertainment of a multi-cultural nature and high aesthetic standards. And this is due to the fact that the Centre has always believed that ancient Greek drama which constitutes the basis of contemporary European drama and an element of the world cultural heritage has direct relevance to today’s world.

The performances are presented in open-air amphitheatres, such as the Ancient Odeon in Paphos, the Curium Ancient Theatre in Limassol and the Makarios III or “Skali” Amphitheatres in Nicosia, during the whole month of July every year.

The theatre companies that participate in the Festival’s programme come from different countries. Most of them come from European countries such as Greece, the U.K., Germany, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, and Sweden including Cyprus. However, there has been participation from the U.S.A., Russia, Korea, China and Israel as well. The performances, many of which are original in their approach, project the uniqueness of ancient Greek drama but also bear an intense colouring of the culture of the country from which they come.

Looking back and evaluating the long course of the Festival, we can say that this objective has been achieved to a satisfactory degree. Each year the Festival grows, acquiring its own multicultural character since it hosts theatre groups coming from different cultural backgrounds and it is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important cultural institutions of our island.

During the last years, the festival has developed significantly: it has broadened its scope, by providing space for the embracement of innovation through classical works, as well as the promotion of contemporary creation through staging ancient plays. It has also expanded its audiences, local and foreign, by presenting performances with English and Greek surtitles. Moreover, it has given the broader part of society access to artistic creation and stimulated local creativity. At the same time, it has opened up a constructive dialogue with other cultures.

The “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama” is co-organized by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute and the Cyprus Tourism Organisation.

Since 2014 all the performances of the “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama” are included in the official events programme of the Organisation “European Capital of Culture – Pafos2017”.

The “International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama” has been twice honored with the EFFE Label (2015-2016 and 2017-2018), as one of the Europe’s finest festivals.