In 1989 a group of students of the 3rd High School of Kalamata, with the help of their French teacher Letta Petroulakis were taught Moliere's play "The Imaginary Patient" through the magic of the theatre outside the conventionalities of school practice.
The development of the spirit of cooperation, the creative use of their free time, and their contribution to the upgrading and development of the cultural movement within the student community were some of the main reasons that pushed them to create a permanent teenage theatre club with enthusiasm and faith.
In 1991 the group acquired legal status as an amateur, non-profit, theatrical and cultural association, created exclusively for secondary education students and was called EXPERIMENTAL STAGE OF KALAMATA. Since the creation of the university community in the area in 2002, it has included university students in the theatre group as well.
From its foundation until today, it has been active in many fields. It organises theatrical performances, cultural events, puppetry, theatrical lessons for young children, literary evenings, and art and theatre workshops for adults. It has collaborated with important directors, musicians, set designers and choreographers.
To date, it has produced over 70 theatrical performances with important works of Greek and world and ancient drama. Thousands of young people passed the curtains of the Experimental Stage, were taught theatre, presented their creations at festivals in Greece and abroad and gained some of the most beautiful experiences of their adolescence.
Since 2000, a puppet theatre group has been created by adults. Its members have been trained in theatrical puppetry construction and animation seminars and have, so far, put up more than 25 puppetry performances. They collaborated with the Primary Education, projecting the theatrical puppets as an essential educational tool at school.
On the occasion of the proposal to hold an International Puppet Theatre Festival in the context of Kalamata's candidacy for the European Capital of Culture ‘21, the Experimental Stage took the initiative to organise the 1st Panhellenic Puppet Theatre Festival of Kalamata in 2017. The first four Festivals were pan-Hellenic and were embraced by the city's public while they were recognised in the international community of puppeteers for their organisation and hospitality.
In 2021 the 5th Festival took on an international character by hosting award-winning troupes from Europe and Greece.
The Puppet Theatre Festivals of Kalamata
The festivals are organised on the Experimental Stage of Kalamata initiative in collaboration with the Municipality of Kalamata. Their actions focus on the following areas:
a) Artistic work
b) Scientific context
c) Specialised training and
d) Educational offer.
In the immediate plans of the Experimental Stage is the 6th International Puppet Theatre Festival of Kalamata, which is scheduled to take place in May from the 22nd to the 29th, 2022. Eighteen groups from Greece and abroad will participate with 68 artists, and 31 performances and 19 works and two workshops will take place.