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Stairway to Provincetown : Theatrical Troupe from Cyprus Returns to Tennessee Williams Festival

The cast of Stairs to the Roof (l to r) Anastasia Demitriadou, Constantinos Tsitsios, Andreas Papamichalopoulos, Martha Constantinou, Marios Mettis, Evros Vassiliou, Riana Athanasiou, and Christos Yerolatsitis.

by Steve Desroches

Now in its 18th year, the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival has continually proven there are infinite ways to explore art. Good art is not static and does not stay tethered to the time in which it was created, but continually challenges and inspires, adapting to each new era, in turn changing the minds of generations not even born at the time of its creation. And if a particular artist really strikes a nerve, that work transcends cultural differences and buzzes at the molten core of humanity. Imagine being able to go back in time to the 1940s when a young, skinny, and struggling Tennessee Williams was in Provincetown pounding away on his typewriter and being able to tell him he would go on to become a global phenomenon and a legend long after his death. Perhaps he did envision such a future and maybe he even did ponder time travel, as the festival will show, as this year it explores Williams’ work in writing science fiction and fantasy.

Riana Athanasiou in a scene from the Cypriot production of Stairs to the Roo

What is also on full display at the festival is the international renown that exists for Williams’ work as theater companies from around the world come to Provincetown to present works by the master playwright put through the prism of their respective culture. In years past, theatrical troupes from Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, and Ghana, to name just a few, have come to Provincetown for the festival, and this year includes more, with a company from the Mediterranean island nation of the Republic of Cyprus presenting a production of Stairs to the Roof, a full-length science fiction fantasy in which a mysterious bearded man in a starry robe appears on a rooftop in St. Louis, Missouri, and with a magic wand brings an alien to start colonizing Earth. But this otherworldly being finds a carnival in the city’s Forest Park and discovers love.

“It is f—king weird,” says director Marios Mettis via e-mail from his home in Cyprus. “I love it! So many things happening, Tennessee is all over the place, literally! A lake, a carnival, a zoo, a bar, offices, bedrooms, living rooms, rooftops and a brand-new planet! It is totally nuts! It is exciting to read and even more exciting to direct. It gives you so much space for creativity!”

Mettis returns to the festival after having first come four years ago and appearing again in 2022 with a Cypriot production of The Magic Tower. As an actor and a director Mettis is well known in Greece and Cyprus, working on stage, television, and in film. He’s appeared in and directed plays at several major theaters in Greece and at the National Theatre of Cyprus in the capital city of Nicosia. And it’s there that Mettis has acted in and directed the works of Williams. Bringing these productions that were initially staged overseas provides that fascinating opportunity to see how other cultures interpret American work, as well as what our cultures have in common.

“Right before Stairs To The Roof I was in our National Theatre’s production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, in the role of Gooper Politt,” says Mettis. “Prior to this, I have worked in Tennessee Williams plays as an actor but never directed a play of his. The Magic Tower, which I directed last year for the festival, was my first play of Tennessee Williams to direct. In drama schools in Greece (there is only one drama school in Cyprus) Tennessee Williams is one of the students’ and teachers’ favorite playwright to work on. His character building is so remarkable and so layered that is a great challenge for students. We love Tennessee Williams here in Cyprus and in Greece. He has a remarkable way of exploring the fragility of human beings and can be so poetically real.”

The international reach of the festival benefits Provincetown by both allowing audiences here to see productions from all over the globe, and also giving theater companies a chance to perform in the United States, a country that is the third largest in land area and population in the world. That’s huge for those from Cyprus, a country that is three-fifths the size of Connecticut with a population of about 1.2 million. It isn’t often Cypriot culture gets much outside attention. And while many might wish for a chance to perform in New York City or Los Angeles, Mettis feels right at home in Provincetown, especially because of the kindness of strangers.

“I love the festival and I am in love with Ptown and its people,” says Mettis. “The little book cabinets in the streets with the free books for everyone to read, the pretty houses by the beach, the benches that face Ptown’s spectacular ocean. The people, though, are what I loved the most—friendly and loving. I remember back in 2019 I was sitting alone at a café in Ptown thinking how the hell will I manage in this expensive town (every love affair has its pros and cons). Everything seemed so overpriced! This lovely lady approached me, she noticed the artist card around my neck. She asked me how my day was and what I thought of Ptown. I told her how fascinated I was by the place and that Ptown would be my dream place to live in, but…everything is so expensive! She asked me where I was staying and later in the afternoon three bags of groceries arrived to my room! She sent me goodies for my whole stay there. That was so nice of her and kind. That lovely woman was Roxanne Kupfer.”

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival presents Stairs to the Roof at Fisherman Hall, 12 Winslow St., Thursday, September 21 at 4:30 p.m., Friday, September 22 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday, September 23 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m., and Sunday, September 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets ($55) are available at the Fire House, 254 Commercial St. (next to Town Hall) or online at For more information call 866.789.TENN.

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Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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