To be a Rembetis one has to find Stavros

To be a Rembetis one has to find Stavros

The 1923 exchange of population was a forcefull way for the Greek refugees to preserve their memory of their experiences and art forms because deep inside they knew that they were never going to return back to their beloved Asia Minor. My grand parents Leonidas and Despina spoke mostly in Turkish at home and they always were nostalgic about their Greek community in their town of Koula in the middle of Turkey. Amongst the golden coin liras that they managed to smuggle they also brought back a few handfulls of soil from their garden so they can plant basil to use for blessings and protection. Rembetika music with the various Turkish instruments that transformed into bouzouki and baglamas helped them express and heal the pain of starting over. The blues like lyrics describe narratives of survival, heart break, drug use, and fighting against authority. Why do we as artist want to face those memories and analyze them? Because we want to find our lost culture again; to find relief from the burden and the weight that one carries from being a Greek; the pressure of matching and repeating the success that the ancient Greeks are remembered for is real and heavy.
In the tradition of Greek Shadow Theater there is a character that represents the manges the people of the underworld and his name is Stavros. I saw Stavros in the manerisms of my grandfather as if the shadow puppet became three dimensional.
By participating in the Diaspora festival we had the oportunity to create a new ritual in order to honor the ones that with their hard lifes created rembetika the music and the lifestyle

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