Meeting Kostas Kastanas

Kostas Kastanas was born in Piraeus, Greece and graduated first in his class from the School of Drama, National Theatre of Greece in 1964.

Kastanas made his professional stage debut with the National Theatre in Alfred de Musset's Lorenzaccio opposite distinguished Greek actor Dimitris Horn. In 1966 he was part of a memorable cast of Ibsen's Ghosts, alternating as "Oswald" with subsequent long-time National Theatre Director, Alexis Minotis, and sharing the stage with a "Mrs. Alving" played by internationally acclaimed Oscar-winner, Katina Paxinou. In 1974, he executed a succession of leading roles in classical Greek tragedies staged at Epidauros, Herodeion, and other ancient theatres. He has toured in Greece, Europe and Canada. During his career has performed in more than a hundred plays of the international repertory, including works by Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, O'Neal, O'Casey, Brecht, Kazantzakis, Camus and Ziogas.


In 1968 Kastanas resigned from the National Theatre and joined the Minotis-Paxinou Theatre Company, where he became a mainstay in its repertory. After the death of Paxinou and the company's closing in 1973, he collaborated with famous Greek actress Eli Lambetti in Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, and subsequently garnered critical acclaim for what critics called his "dynamic, insightful" portrayal of Hamlet in an avant-garde production at the Rialto Theatre Athens.


Kastanas also has experience teaching young professional actors. After working as an acting instructor at the Veaki School of Drama and The Popular Experimental Theatre 's School of Drama, Kastanas spent twelve years (1983-1995) teaching classical and modern theatre and Greek drama, at the School of Drama of the National Theatre of Greece. He counts over 250 actors now active on the Greek stage among his former students.


Throughout his career Kastanas has appeared on television and in films, and participated in numerous play and poetry readings, as well as programs on literature, on radio and TV. In 1969 he worked on The Marathon Runner, a Swedish production that was secretly shot during the Greek dictatorship, and in 1971 he played the part of David in Aphrodite's Island (with Katina Paxinou), a film directed by George Skalenakis (based on the book by Alexis Parnis). He played the doctor in the 1978 Swedish film, A Walk in the Sun, with Gosta Eckman and Dionysios Solomos, a film about the life of the National Greek poet, in which Kastanas played the major role.

Kastanas has been an active member of government committees on Theatre education appointed by the Ministries of Education and Culture. He founded the Utopia Theatre Company and staged plays by Ziogas and Hugo Betti. In 2002 Kastanas organized and directed a week long festival featuring cultural events on the Greek island of Kos. In 2003 he appeared in a contemporary theatrical work by the Greek writer and dramatist Paulos Matessis entitled "Guardian Angel for Hire". In December 2003 Kastanas was commissioned by the Athens Concert Hall to appear as "The Narrator" in Perils Koukos' Merlin the Magician at the Island of Poets, presented with the cooperation of the Camerata -Orchestra of the "Friends of Music " under the musical Direction of Alexandros Myrat. Kastanas presently works as an actor and director, and performs in recordings and presentations of theatrical, poetical and literary texts. He recently returned from the United States where he gave lectures and acting demonstrations in Ancient Greek and English, at Bradley University (Peoria, Ill.) and James Madison University (Harrisonburg, Va.). He performed as host and narrator in a Greek wide TV presentation from Pnyka celebrating the feast commemorating the thirty years of reestablishment of democracy after the seven-year dictatorship. This important event was presented before the President of the Greek democracy, the Prime minister and the ex-president of France .