Cyprus is a unique example of a country in which political conflict co-exists with the use of two official languages (Greek and Turkish), spoken by the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot communities of the island respectively. The proposed discussion will attempt to shed light onto the power of theatre – and especially theatre for young audiences – in bridging the gap between the two communities, and bringing Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots together.


The discussion will look into case studies from the past two decades, which demonstrate the way in which TYA acts as a tool for social change, fostering trust and understanding between two communities wounded by events of the past. Cultural professionals will share their experiences about the way in which shows, educational programmes and other cultural projects have created bi-communal bridges in the country. The above examples will also act as good practices for other parts of the world, in which political conflict and/or the use of more than one language exist. Furthermore, they will demonstrate the power of TYA to create positive change for a society, becoming a tool for social cohesion.

Production Credits

Stavros STAVROU, Coordinator
Marina MALENI, Contributor
Eleni ANASTASIOU, Contributor
Kiki ARGYROU, Contributor
Izel SEYLANI, Contributor
Vasilis PAPHITIS, Contributor
Ellada EVANGELOU, Contributor
Kostas SILVESTROS, Contributor
Hayriye RUZGAR, Contributor

Professionals from other countries with similar background, who will be present in Havana, will be invited to participate in the discussion. 

About the Artists

Marina Maleni: Born in Nicosia, Cyprus, Marina holds a degree in ‘Theatre Studies, Acting and Sociology’ from the University of Texas in Austin, and in ‘Communication and Journalism’ from the Open University, Cyprus. Since 2001, she has served as the Head of the Theatre Development Office of the Cyprus Theatre Organization (The Cyprus National Theatre) and is in charge of European collaborations, playwriting development, non-professional theatre and theatre education programmes. With artist Melita Couta and the Cyprus Theatre Organization team, she received the prestigious Golden Triga at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space - PQ 2023. She was made an honorary member of ASSITEJ Cyprus in 2021.


Eleni Anastasiou: Eleni is a PhD Candidate in ‘Theatre Studies’ at the Department of Theatre of Fine Arts, Thessaloniki, Greece. She is a graduate of the same department (Dramatology - Performance Studies), with a postgraduate degree in ‘Theatrical Performance: History, Theory and Practice’. In 2016 she founded the theatre group Intra Portas, which continues to this day to perform and present workshops for children and teenagers in school classrooms. As a director, she has worked on numerous productions aimed at both children and for adults. Since 2021, she has served as the Vice-President of ASSITEJ Cyprus.


Kiki Argyrou: Kiki is a graduate of the Theatre Department of the School of Fine Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and holds a Master's Degree in ‘Theatre Studies’ from the Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle University. Since 2017, she has been working as a dramaturg at the Cyprus Theatre Organization (the Cyprus National Theatre). As a member of the NGO TheatrEtc, she has designed and implemented applied theatre workshops for various age groups, both in the context of European programmes and educational activities in Cyprus. She has also collaborated with the Cyprus Centre of the International Theatre Institute and the Cyprus Centre of Set Designers, Architects and Theatre Technicians on the research and editing of theatrical studies on Cypriot theatre. She is a member of the Board of the Theatre Museum of Cyprus, a role she assumed in 2017. Since 2021 she has been a member of the ASSITEJ Cyprus board, and became the Centre’s Secretary in 2023.


Izel Seylani: Izel graduated from the Theatre Department of Eskişehir Anadolu University State Conservatory, Turkey. He completed his Master's Degree in ‘Theatre and Performance’ at Manchester University, before going on to obtain his doctorate in ‘Educational Management, Planning and Economy’ at Near East University. Since 2014, he has been working as an actor on both sides of the island. He was the first Turkish-Cypriot to be cast in a production of the Cyprus National Theatre (THOC), in 2021. He has also taken part in a number of bi-communal and bi-lingual (Greek and Turkish) productions, including 'Waiting for Godot' and 'O Spanos tziai oi saranta dratzoi.'


Vasilis Paphitis: Vasilis was born and raised in Larnaca. He graduated with Honours from the Prova-Mairi Razi Drama School in Athens. He has been teaching and practicing the art of stilts since 2013. Vasilis is a founding member of Antilogos Theatre and Head of its Children's Theatre Stage since 2016. The Theatre gives great emphasis to political theatre, and many of its shows and projects deal with the co-existence of the Greek and Turkish communities in the country. Last year, in this context, the Theatre produced the children’s show “O Spanos tziai oi saranta dratzoi”, which was presented half in Greek and half in Turkish, with Vasilis joining the cast. 


Ellada Evangelou: Ellada was born and raised in Cyprus. She has studied in Cyprus and the United States, earning a BA in English, an MFA in Dramaturgy, and a PhD in 'Theatre & Cultural Studies.' She has worked as a dramaturg, theatre director, workshop facilitator and independent consultant, in collaboration with theatre companies, NGOs and international organisations. She is interested in the relationship between theatre, dramaturgy and identity, and works in the intersection of aRtivism and scholarship in post-colonial, post-conflict communities. She is co-founder of Rooftop Theatre, a member of the Leadership Circle of the 'IMPACT Project', and a 2020 Global Fellow of the International Society for the Performing Arts. She was the Artistic and Executive Director of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival in 2019, 2020, and 2021 – a festival with a strong bicommunal character, which takes place in the middle of the dividing line in Cyprus, the UN Buffer Zone. 


Kostas Silvestros: Kostas studied Acting at the Theatro Technis - Karolos Koun Drama School in Athens, and has appeared in many productions in Greece and Cyprus. He started his directing career in 2016, when he directed Aristophanes’ 'Plutus,' which won him a national award for Best Direction. Since then, he has directed a many productions, winning “Best Young Artist” at the Cyprus Theatre Awards in 2021. One of his most successful productions to date was 'Waiting for Godot.' This bilingual rendition of the play (Greek and Turkish) was performed by Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot actors in the middle of the dividing lines in Cyprus – in the Ledra Palace area of the UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia. Kostas was the first director to cast a Turkish-Cypriot actor (Izel Seylani) in a production of the Cyprus National Theatre (THOC). 


Hayriye Rüzgar: Hayriye studied ‘Political Science and International Relations’ (BA) at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul and ‘Political Communication’ (MSc) at the University of Amsterdam. Hayriye is responsible for developing and implementing the communication strategy of the Home for Cooperation, a unique community centre located in the middle of the dividing lines in Cyprus, in the Ledra Palace area of the UN Buffer Zone, Nicosia. The Centre hosts an extensive variety of cultural, artistic, and educational programs and activities, which aim to foster creativity and intercultural trust in Cyprus and internationally. It also organizes an annual cultural festival, of which Hayriye was recently appointed Director. 


Stavros Stavrou: Stavros studied ‘Modern Greek and Byzantine Studies’ at King’s College London, and holds an Master of Arts in ‘Cultural and Creative Industries’ from the same university. As a lyric-writer, he has written songs for many renowned artists in Greece and Cyprus, in addition to songs and scripts for the theatre. In this capacity, he has worked with the National Theatre of Greece, the National Theatre of Cyprus (THOC), and many independent theatres and companies. He has also produced shows for both children and adults. He has been the President of ASSITEJ Cyprus since 2021.

    • Professional Content
Primary Language
Accessibility Information
  • Not Applicable
Event Format
‘Hybrid’ (some contributors ‘On the Ground’ and some presenting via Pre-Recorded Video)