Our Gruesome Cultural Heritage: Boundaries, Walls, or Impositions
organized by Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC)
March 31–April 13, 2019
Nicosia and Famagusta, Cyprus
The second practical workshop investigating the emergence of national mythologies and opposing them through reflections about memorials and realized works of scenography took place in the transitional space dividing Cyprus.
In parallel to Norway, the Cyprus workshop focused on three main stories, centering on the human aspect and experience of the stories:
The Venetian walls of Nicosia and their great story:
Nicosia within the walls area and the medieval building now known as Castelliotissa, nearby Paphos Gate, was originally a part of the second Royal Palace of the Lusignan royal dynasty of Cyprus. It was later used by the Ottomans as a store for ammunitions and received the name Tophane, which in Turkish literally means the cannon’s house or the store for artillery ammunition. According to a rumor, the legendary murder of King Peter the First, took place in the attic of this building. It literally is located on the green line dividing the island into two. (The green line took its name from the line drawn back then on a map in green to show the dividing line of the island).
The ghost city of Famagusta:
Prior to the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in 1974, Famagusta was one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world. It was abandoned during the invasion and has in the meantime become a ghost city. After its inhabitants had fled it remained under the occupation of the Turkish Armed Forces. This situation has deprived the city and the land of life and the dialogue with its people, and entry to the area is still forbidden to the public. The complexity of a memorial of a city, rather than that of people, along with the rich history and the monuments connecting it with the capital, Nicosiais the central theme for this workshop.
The missing persons, the human side of the story without politics:
The coup d’état by the Greek Cypriot Nationalists in 1974 and the subsequent Turkish invasion and unilateral declaration of the Turkish Cypriot state in 1983 firstly appear as political and military issues, but we approached them as a spark of regional communal memory in terms of the people who never returned to their families and the families who never knew what became of them.
The workshop unfolded on the background of the division of a “European state” which is a unique stalemate in contemporary Europe. The students’ endeavor addressed questions for common stories of both sides as a response to local idiosyncrasies while at the same time touching on the complex nature of the current flow of refugees, taking place in an immense scale in relation to the displacement of Cypriots in the 1970es. The enforced abandonment of a home, the loss of identity and the separation from one’s family, left in uncertainty, invokes the most radical in human behavior and need. Cyprus’ history and still unresolved case of political deadlock in the center of Europe may be of significance to relate to the extensive movement of human beings we presently are confronted with.