Parakentro literally means “out of the centre” and is a cultural centre located high in the mountains of Cyprus. From there Pambos and Costas, a writer and a composer, face the crisis of Cyprus by presenting experimental and different ways of experiencing literature and music.
Cyprus sure is a beautiful country. Euripides besang it as a place of longing. One may think of the Cypress kitchen, of traditional music, of the great landscape. Or of the division between Turkish Cyprus and Greek Cyprus. Since 2014 there are negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cyprus to reconciliate again, which is great as long as it is a fair agreement, Pambos and Costas intervened. Or again one may think about the near-to-death bankruptcy of Greece. Cyprus, with its close bondings and economic relationsships to Greece, would too go down the swanny with Greece.
But Cyprus is seemingly doing good. The rating agency Standards&Poor recently upgraded Cyprus with a positive prospect for the future. Compared to Greece it is really doing good. But still, Pambos and Costas told me, it is not visible in every day life. Still, a lot of people are jobless, have no money and there is no chance to get one in the near future. Compared to Greeks 23 percent unemployment rate, the Cyprus rate of 13 percent is better, still. Besides from that, the refugees are a severe problem, too, and again comparable to that in Greece. According to Amnesty International Cyprus often arrests refugees in prison-like facilities.
Artists respond artistically.
“Beauty is an accurate weapon”, Pambos firmly insists. For him poetry is not to find the proper words, not anymore, but to give a sensational and possibly complete experience to the people, a experience which levels them, takes them away. He is no entertainer, it is not simply about one owns enjoyment.
He wants the people to feel and be moved on an eye level to the author. When he reads poems he would also have the people smell the scents, see the pictures, touch the boundaries of thinking and listen – of course – to his compositions as well as an open and flexible environment. A poem about bread is staged by serving fresh bread (and people get something to eat, too). “I use metaphors and images that moves one forward, to create an image for the viewer and listener.” says the poet-cinematographer.
Scenic and special. Troodos Mountains.
Pambos Kouzalis and Costas Cacoyannis teamed up to run a cultural centre in a remote place in Trooodos Mountains in the Greek part of Cyprus. Costas started 1999 to renovate and expand the building from the 19th century step by step. Now there is also an open air theatre and a music studio.
The two Cyprian collaborate in several productions as well. First there is the music, for which Pambos writes and Costas composes. The CD releases go to a worthy cause, for example to the Sophia Foundation, to help children in Africa. They do theater, documentaries and TV series. One of their recent TV production just went number one among the Cyprians.
“There is a strong interest in literature and the arts”, consitutes Pambos, “especially in poetry, because it is easy to make and easy accessable.” As respectively trained in literature and in music and having experience, they want to show people how they can engage in the arts, too. Every event at parakentro is for free.
PARAKENTRO (Greek) is a non-profit cultural organization and publishing company founded and directed by composer COSTAS CACOYANNIS and poet PAMBOS KOUZALIS. PARAKENTRO has produced numerous award winning CDs, DVDs, books and films featuring well known artists from around the world. The PARAKENTRO center is located on Troodos Mountain (Lemithou village) in Cyprus at an altitude of 1200 m. The 19th century stone building features an open air stage, a recording studio, a video and graphics editing lab. Every summer Parakentro produces a series of concerts and cultural events.