Serious drama, personal pleasure

A recent arrival on the local theater circuit, Christos Loulis has landed five roles as well as a Dimitris Horn Award for Best New Actor over the past three-and-a-half years. The young actor had shown promise prior to his wider acceptance. Shortly after completing his studies at Theatro Technis in 1999, director Giorgos Lazanis entrusted him with the role of Edmund in «King Lear.» Immediately afterward, Loulis spent two years working with the respected director and actor Lefteris Voyiatzis with roles in the late Sarah Kane’s much-touted «Cleansed» and Arthur Miller’s «Mr Peters’ Connections.» Last summer, Loulis won his Best New Actor Award for his title role in «Erotokritos,» the late 16th century epic by Vitsentzos Kornaros. The play was produced by the Municipal Theater of Crete. Loulis is currently playing in a National Theater production of Eugene O’Neill’s «Long Day’s Journey Into Night.» Born and raised in Korydallos, a district of Piraeus, Loulis, the son of an office equipment merchant, had entered university to study economics before drama entered his life. Would you call it luck? Very much so. Do opportunities like these occur often? And the award was a result of the fortune I had in interpreting these roles. How did the change [from economics to drama] happen? It was probably a general outlook of mine to avoid taking myself too seriously, which I saw my fellow students doing – individuals who had already put their lives into shape, which seemed hypocritical to me. In other words, I felt the need to view myself more playfully. By that, I don’t mean by being brainless, but by occupying myself seriously with something that I enjoy while having fun at the same time. Theater allows that. Naturally, I’m only beginning to understand the underlying reasons now for my turn toward theater. And university? Unfinished. Everything happened so intensely with theater, one thing just led to another. I hadn’t even finished with my military obligations. But I’m thinking of registering this year, to get it out of the way. Theater is financially tough, especially for younger actors. Very tough. I’m now playing in a TV series on Mega Channel and a film by Katerina Evangelakou, «Think it Over,» which is now being screened. Is a higher level of mental strength required in theater? The scene demands it, not theater. Theater’s a game which emancipates you. With exhausting work, persistence, effort, yes, it does let you go. The people, or the circuit, are tough. Here, theater isn’t just a game. Other norms and social regulations come into play – marketplace, big fish, small fish, competition… How do you feel? I feel lucky because I can’t say that I’ve experienced any of this. I simply observe what goes on around me. I don’t know how I’d react if things, until now, hadn’t turned out this way for me. At the awards ceremony you spoke about teachers to whom you feel obliged «even though some are not aware of this»… They’re people who taught me much about life. They’re not from the theatrical circuit. There’s no point in naming them, and they would not want this either. But I’ll let you know about the individuals I consider teachers in theater: Giorgos Lazanis, my first teacher; Lefteris Voyiatzis, a reference point for me who is always in my mind. He shaped me but we needed to spend some time apart so that I could see things more clearly. And the unforgettable Minos Volanakis. I spent time with him during the final two years of his life, while I was still at acting school. Great. The exception.