On its 25th anniversary, the best selling novel is brought to life in a world premiere theatrical production touring around the UK in spring 2019
At the end of March 2018 I received a really exciting email! I had been contacted by the production team of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin , the first major stage production, to locate resources and contacts in order to give the creative team an authentic sense of the island and local people during the period of the Italian and German occupation that is referred in the novel.
The team had visited my website whilst researching Kefalonia and they hoped I could help; I really loved the idea, as it combined my enthusiasm about researching the island with my previous profession working in the production of events.
So I happily agreed to be part of this!
Just to give you a bit of background the play marks the 25th anniversary of the publication of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières, that won the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book back in 1995 and went on to become an international best seller, with millions of copies sold around the world. It was made into a movie in 2001 filmed here on Kefalonia. In case you missed the novel or the movie the story and play is “an unforgettable love story set on the Greek island of Cephalonia against the turbulent backdrop of World War II”
As the production team were very invested in experiencing first-hand the atmosphere of Kefalonia and details behind the story of the book, I set about organising a schedule with them for their visit in June 2018, which covered visiting some of the locations of the story and facilitating meetings with a few historians and archaeological experts, as well as local people who just wanted to share their memories.
We also visited the main cultural museum’s associated with this period: Fokas Cosmetatos folklore museum and earthquake exhibition where we were warmly welcomed and had a very interesting discussion with Spyros Cosmetatos, president of Focas-Cosmetatos Foundation.
We then visited the Corgialenios Folklore Museum and Library where we had a very interesting talk and flipped through some important books related with the period with the historian and philologist Petros Petratos .
Finally we had the honor to have a short but impressive visit to the house of Aggelo-Dionisios Debonos probably the most important historian, researcher and folklorist of Kefalonia, where we had the pleasure to hear some very interesting stories of the time, as the team was very interested in the real relationships between the local people and the Italian soldiers.
We managed to visit St Georges Castle accompanied with Dionysis Georgatos, Doctor and former Prefect of Ithaca and Kefalonia at the time of the filming of Corelli’s movie and archeologist Eleni Papafloratos.
We also visited the Casa Museo in Karavomylos hosted by the owner-collector Takis Tokkas who then also escorted us to the old village of Vlachata where the team got a sense of the atmosphere of past times.
Last but important stop was the Acqui Museum, an exhibition in memory of the Acqui Division, where pictures, newspaper articles and documents telling the story of the massacre are displayed.
We had a short visit to old Farsa, Antisamos beach and Fiskardo. In Sami we had a pleasant stop at Contessina restaurant where we had a nice chat about the period of the war and the film, with Tasia Grigoratou and Anthi Mihalitsi. Finally we visited the location of the blown up Battery in Erissos where remains of the tunnels connecting the batteries are located, used for coverage and ammunition.
It was really important to seek a true sense of the time; exploring history, folklore and revealing some hidden stories and it was a revelation for all of us! Unfortunately the time was very limited so we just managed to have a glimpse of it, hoping though that this was enough to contribute to the success of the production.
It was a great honor to work with the team:
Neil Leidlaw, the producer, Melly Still, the director (Olivier and Tony Award nominee) , Rona Munro, the adapter, (Evening Standard Award winner and Golden Globe and BAFTA nominee), and our talented Designer Mayou Trikerioti.
Thank you all for this unique experience, hopefully some of us may be able to see the play in one of the venues that is touring!
Produced by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Rose Theatre Kingston. The ensemble cast of 15 features Alex Mugnaioni playing the title character and Madison Clare, Fred Fergus and Joseph Long playing Pelagia, Francesco and Dr Iannis respectively. For more information on the play and the dates and venues of the tour, visit their website and fb page