SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – While Melbourne is known for having the largest population of Greeks in Australia, the renaming of an area in Sydney as “Little Athens” will honor the Greek community and its contributions in the country’s largest city, SBS News reported on April 30.
To honor Greek-Australians in the community, Sydney’s Inner West Council made the decisions to rename a precinct “Little Athens” SBS News reported, adding that the area to be renamed is in between the suburbs of Marrickville and Dulwich Hill, where the majority of Sydney’s Greek immigrants settled.
Inner West Mayor Darcy Bryne made the announcement on his social media pages on April 21, posting “BREAKING: Council has now resolved to officially rename a precinct in the Marrickville and Dulwich Hill as a Little Athens to honour the incredible contribution of Greek Australians to the Inner West. Please SHARE THE GOOD NEWS with Greeks you know,” along with the Greek and Australian flags.
He said that “Greek migrants made the bustling suburb what it is today,” SBS News reported.
“This is an act of symbolic recognition and respect for the incredible contributions that Greek migrants have made to the Inner West. They’ve made the Inner West the birthplace of Australian multiculturalism,” Mayor Bryne said, SBS News reported.
SBS News also noted the contributions of the Hellenic Art Theatre, “a staple in their community,” located in Marrickville, “founded in 1983 by Greek Cypriot Stavros Economidis, who migrated to Australia when he was young, [and] was introduced to the art of theatre by actor and mentor Chrysostomos Mantouridis.”
“I thought there was, at the time in ’65, the 70s, there was a demand for it,” Economidis told SBS News.
“Currently, the theatre’s lights are out due to coronavirus restrictions,” SBS News reported, noting that “after just two performances of the Greek play Plotos, Greek for ‘wealth,’ the show was put on hold, but the community is ready to bounce back.”
“We’re waiting on a razor’s edge, we can’t wait to come back,” said the theatre’s production manager Evelyn Tsavalas, SBS News reported, adding that “Tsavalas is among many in the community born to Greek Cypriot immigrants.”
Plays at the Hellenic Art Theatre have been performed with supertitles for the last 20 years, SBS News reported, noting that “Tsavalas said when they perform the Greek classics – from tragedies to comedies and contemporary classics – they see the biggest attendance from non-Greek speakers.”
Tsavalas and Economidis also run “theatre workshops for children which they say not only build confidence among young people but help keep the Greek language and culture alive,” SBS News reported.
Greek-Australian filmmaker Alex Lykos, was born and raised in Marrickville, SBS News reported. In a previous interview, Lykos spoke with The National Herald about his 2015 film, Alex & Eve, which began as a play performing to sold-out crowds in the area. He told SBS News, “We started playing to an audience the size of 50, then it went to 150, and then audiences started reaching 400 a night, which for independent theatre is good”.
“They saw themselves on the stage and that’s what got them to bring their families, their relatives. People who normally wouldn’t go to the theatre were coming to watch this show because they could connect to it. This has been happening for 60 years or so, people grinding away, telling stories that come from the area we’ve grown up in.”
“The latest census showed up to 400,000 Australians have Greek ancestry and almost half live in Melbourne,” SBS News reported.
University of New South Wales historian Nick Doumanis told SBS News that “what many people didn’t realize is that Sydney had the largest Greek community at the beginning of the century,” and “Melbourne outdid it only after World War II.”
“Most Greek-Australians came here after the Second World War with very little, hardly anything in their suitcases, and decided they would make a living here to try and find security and build a life. And they made the most with what Australia offered them,” Professor Doumanis told SBS News.