Luka Lesson talks all things love ahead of Greek Festival of Sydney live show

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Greek Australian poet, storyteller, and performer Luka Haralampou (aka Luka Lesson) is set to take the stage at this year’s Greek Festival of Sydney on Thursday, February 29 and Friday, March 1.

Luka has been writing for more than 20 years and has had his works studied in schools and universities worldwide. He said his love for writing started with hip-hop as he had an influence from 90s and early 2000s artists.

“I started rapping straight after to high school,” Luka told The Greek Herald.

“I always listened to and was really inspired by Tupac Shakur.”

Some of the other artists he was inspired by included Biggie Smallz and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony.

“Then I started getting into slam poetry through watching YouTube videos from the US,” Luka said.

Luka Lesson brings 'Agapi and Other Kinds of Love' to Sydney. Photo James Humberstone.
Luka Lesson brings ‘Agapi and Other Kinds of Love’ to Sydney. Photo: James Humberstone.

“Eventually, I just threw myself into slam poetry and I ended up winning the National Poetry Slam in 2011. Since then, I’ve just been touring around and trying to find ways to push beyond that genre of poetry slam and push it beyond just a two-three-minute poem and see what I can create.”

Luka said he had previously created three shows. Two of them were not performed in the public eye, whilst one of them, which was based on Homer’s Odyssey, never premiered due to COVID-19.

“Now is the fourth time that I’ve made a show, Agapi and Other Kinds of Love, and I’m actually really glad for the journey I went on,” he said.

“It’s all of those mistakes, and all of those things that I wrote during that time and the things I experienced, that have gotten me to be at the level that I’m at now with this show.”

At this year’s Greek Festival of Sydney, Luka will bring a taste of Agapi and Other Kinds of Love to the stage once again.

“We’re heading down to Sydney, to Riverside Theatre as well, and this will be the first time that I’m performing again with two musicians for the show since we first premiered in Canberra in 2022,” he explained.

“I had done a very kind of site-specific special event for the Art Gallery of New South Wales in December, where they asked me to do just the solo version of the show… but in terms of the fuller version of the show in a theatre, this will be the first time in New South Wales that we will do it.”

Luka said he first put pen to paper and began writing Agapi and Other Kinds of Love in 2018. It is a book and performance which explores different concepts of love.

“The inspiration firstly came from knowing that there were different words for love in ancient Greece and still that we use in modern Greek,” he said.

“And I combined that with reading Plato’s Symposium, and there’s a speech by Socrates in Plato’s Symposium where he says that he was taught everything he knows about love from a woman named Diotema.

“I thought it was really interesting that, you know, one of the most famous philosophers of all time was actually giving credit to a woman (Diotema) for teaching him everything he knows about love, which is very rare.”

The Greek Australian poet said he decided to focus on Diotema in the performance.

“She doesn’t turn up in person in that book, so I decided to make her a bigger character and make it that Socrates and Diotema were in love with each other,” Luka said.

“And that’s how Socrates learns about the different kinds of love.”

In Agapi and Other Kinds of Love, Luka said he explores different types of love including Eros, Filia, Filoxenia, Philautia, Storgi, Pragm and Agapi.

“It [the performance] is everything that I am in one hour, and I’m really proud of it, and I’m privileged that I’m able to perform it for people,” Luka said.

“I feel as though my little gift for society, for this show at least, is that I get to give society a deeper vocabulary of love, and a deeper way of talking about the different types of love, so that we can instil and inject a bit more love into society by the way we interact with it, and the way we talk about it.

“I think that the community is ready for it and I’m excited to see them and perform it for them.”

Agapi and Other Kinds of Love will be performed as part of the Greek Festival of Sydney at Riverside Theatres in Parramatta, Sydney from February 29 to March 1. You can book tickets at: https://riversideparramatta.com.au/whats-on/agapi-other-kinds-of-love/

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