The Greek composer, Mikis Theodorakis, has passed away at the age of 96, even as his musical relationship with Brendan Behan was being celebrated on a Dublin stage. Theodorakis was a gigantic figure in the history of modern Greece because of his opposition to the fascist regimes that ruled the country after WW2, but especially for his heroic opposition to the Military Junta that seized power in 1967 and ruled up to 1974.
Better known internationally as the composer of the music for Zorba the Greek, Theodorakis is cherished within Greece for To Gelasto Paidi, ‘The Laughing Boy’, a song that every child learns in school, a song that is intertwined into Greek history for the past 60 years. This song written by Brendan Behan, featured in a Greek production of The Hostage in Athens in 1962, for which Theodorakis composed the music. Despite its being very specifically about the shooting of Michael Collins, the Greeks took the song to their hearts and superimposed it on their own political martyrs, so much so that the Irish/Behan origin was eventually forgotten and it became a Greek folksong!
Jack Harte’s play, The Laughing Boy, now running in The New Theatre in Dublin’s Temple Bar, is based on Brendan Behan’s ironic relationship with the Greek version of a ballad he wrote for his mother while still a child. A moment’s silence will be observed before tonight’s performance to salute Mikis Theodorakis.