Emilios Veakis, one of the greatest Greek actors, was born in Piraeus in 1884.
He was raised by his uncles, as his mother died from postpartum fever forty days after his birth, while his father died when Emilios was three years old. A child with a taste for art by nature, Emilios painted, wrote poems and organized theater performances for his friends.
In an effort to deal with his uncles’ objection to him becoming an actor as they wanted him to take over their carpentry business, Emilios joins the Athens School of Fine Arts. In 1900 he passes the Royal Theater’s audition and starts studying acting at the Royal Theater Drama School. However, the School closes down some time later and Veakis joins a theater company in 1901.
For thirteen years Veakis plays with various drama groups in the countryside, and we cannot have a complete record of the roles he interpreted. However, this period in his career shaped him as an artist. He is conscripted during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and is promoted to sergeant on grounds of gallantry. In 1914 he returns to Athens where he works with major actresses at the time, such as Marika Kotopouli and Kyveli. 1919 is a benchmark year in his career, as his performance as Oedipus in Sophocles’ “Oedipus the King” is outstanding, rendering him the first major drama actor of his era.
In the years to come, he will be the leading actor in numerous plays of Greek and foreign playwrights. In 1931 he forms a group with Katina Paxinou and Alexis Minotis, two of the greatest Greek actors ever. Strindberg’s “The Father”, O’ Neel’ s “Desire Under the Elms”, Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” are some of the plays they put on. The decade 1932-1942 is the most fruitful of his career, as he will have the opportunity to interpret the biggest drama roles in his life. Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Twelfth Night”, “Julius Caesar”, “Othello”, but also Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid”, Euripides’ “Cyclops”, Aeschylus’ “Agamemnon” etc. During the German Occupation, Veakis was a member of the Resistance, while later on he joined the National Freedom Front (the Communist Army during the Greek Civil war 1946-1949).
The years that followed were anything but easy for him, as he was faced with numerous adversities (mainly financial problems and health issues). He died in 1951, alone and poor, leaving behind him a true legacy in acting.
In 1976 Skylitsio Theater was renamed Veakio Theter, while since 1994 two special acting awards bearing his name have been created.