CULTURE

With attitude and dynamism

She is hyperactive to the point that she has to sit on her hands to keep them from moving. «I like embodying my roles. My voice is directly related to my body. I didn’t realized this in the beginning; I’ve understood it for the past two years now. Whatever’s in my mind and in my soul doesn’t come out just through my mouth but through my hands as well.» Peggy Trikalioti pulsates when she talks and when she acts. So much so that, small as she is, she is like a sensitive chord that does not stop vibrating once it has succumbed to the slightest stimulation. Her expressive intensity reached its zenith in the role of the deaf-and-dumb Sarah in the play «Children of a Lesser God» in which she starred for two continuous years with great success at the Alambra Theater alongside Yiannis Vouros. This year, she was in a leading role again in David Auburn’s «Proof,» directed by Constantinos Arvanitakis at the Moussouri Theater, which recently closed. She played the role of a mathematical genius who follows in her father’s footsteps. The play has met with great success wherever it has been performed over the past three years (from New York to Athens), as a family drama that is based on the solution of a mathematical proof. The young playwright has you riveted, turning the complicated world of mathematics into a mundane affair – accessible, enigmatic, tender. The «proof» is the starting point for many questions about relationships, friendship and daily life. How did such a «bad math student,» who, more to the point, «didn’t like the subject at all,» embody the role of a young mathematical genius? «It was strange. I had to read books on the philosophy of mathematics and began to get excited by its absolute beauty. I realized that our lives are structured upon numbers. I might not have learned to solve equations, but I began to see the joy in the symbols.» Award Peggy Trikalioti belongs to a new generation of actors who are pursuing their acting careers with attitude and dynamism. She has just completed a decade in the theater and has already won a cinema acting award for her role in Antonis Kokkinos’s film «End of an Era.» She has been in several successful television series, played Chekhov («Ivanoff»), Shakespeare («Hamlet»), Sophocles («Antigone»), sung in several musicals («Fiddler on the Roof»), as well as done an idiosyncratic surrealistic play («Striker,» by Caryl Churchill). She has worked with Giorgos Kimoulis and Stamatis Fasoulis, under whose direction she will appear next winter, playing a leading role in Thornton Wilder’s «Our Town.» Most of the characters you have played have been dynamic women. I feel a need to do this, so they know that this is what they can «sell» to me, that they’ll propose it. It’s easy for me. This is the first year that I have not chosen something that is not so easy. I have very little in common with Catherine (the character in «Proof»). Until now, I believed that unless something is extreme, it’s ignored. I realized that I can work with something that’s calm, more mundane. I felt as though I was conquering simplicity, I was becoming more and more straightforward as the performances went by. Is being straightforward a «conquest,» a sign of maturity? With «Children of a Lesser God,» I was frightened that I had finished and didn’t have anything else to give precisely because I had taken things so near the edge. «OK,» I said. «You’ve duped them enough so far. What then? What else do I have to give?» This year opened a door for me. I feel hopeful now. One young actor whom I admire is Anna Mascha. She exudes strength without making the slightest effort. I suspect that that isn’t something I could do. You said that there are lots of reasons for intensity. Such as? The Theatro Technis, where I studied, works more with instinct and emotion than with logic. In the beginning, I worked only through emotion. I would open the valve, and that was it. I didn’t know that I could regulate it. I needed eight or nine years on the stage, with daily exercises and repetitions, til I got it. You need to learn to weigh things. This year, my attitude toward acting changed. I feel like I have discovered a new road, with the help of [«Proof» director] Arvanitakis. How does the role of Sarah fit into your career so far? With Sarah, I realized that you can properly distribute your passion, how powerful immobility or silence are when they are «loaded.» Would you say that there is a great difference between the silent role of Sarah and this year’s verbose Catherine? Does last year’s movement make up for this year’s speech? Absolutely. Only the process is different for the actor, I was worried it wouldn’t go down. Now I’ve conquered it and will continue working in this direction. I realize that histrionics sometimes make an actor look ridiculous. The acting can easily end up over the top. Are the techniques so solid that any intervening external factor can be «neutralized»? No. There are times when you feel saturated and believe that you have given it all, but unfortunately were playing only to yourself! Can you tell the difference? When what you are doing gives you great pleasure, you forget that you are not doing it for yourself but for the audience. And the viewer can see this. They’re not interested. You come out exhausted and they haven’t noticed anything. You need to be both within and outside your role at the same time. If you are enjoying it too much, it’s difficult for someone else to enjoy it. Two summers ago you starred in «Antigone,» in a controversial performance directed by Giorgos Kimoulis which had many poor reviews. It couldn’t have been anything but controversial. The negative reaction surprised me. To be more precise, I wasn’t surprised because I expected it but it bothered me. I continued to act as I had been taught but it influenced me psychologically. Today, I feel that this «mistake» came at the right time because I took some things for granted. I didn’t disagree with the perspective of the direction. If you asked me again today, I’d say that I agree with it even more. Perhaps I wasn’t able to put over what was required of me. Perhaps it wasn’t the best moment for me to play such a role with such a radical direction. It was beyond my abilities. I feel, however, that more preparation time was also needed. Do you feel you have been lucky in your career? Yes, I’ve been given excellent opportunities. Great roles, good directors. I’ve played Chekhov, Shakespeare, Sophocles, in musicals, in a strange surrealistic play. I’ve tried different roles to broaden my horizons. I’ve been warmly welcomed; people have smiled and opened doors for me. I was lucky. I was tried, tested. Could you ever leave the theater? I hope I could because I might need to live without it. I might get tired and want to do something else. Theater is a difficult thing. It influences your entire life. But I don’t have any other means of supporting myself aside from the theater.