Fasoulis: Don’t knock ‘Big Brother’

He translated the play, is directing the production and every night plays not one but two roles at the Dimitris Horn Theater: father and son, as they are described by Richard Greenberg in Three Days of Rain, a play that links today with yesterday, the year 2000 with 1960, and the present with the past. He greatly enjoyed this re-enactment of the Oedipal myth by a TV star and the sentimental political intrigue that it hides, beyond the stereotypical labels of comedy and tragedy. But what exactly is this play? Why, life itself. What else? replies Stamatis Fasoulis. Today Fasoulis talks about life, the 1960s, his father, and television, especially Big Brother from which, he says, he cribs. Do we really begin to resemble our parents as we grow older? When we lose something that we loved in our youth we want to replace it. But because we don’t have anyone to dress up as our father anymore, we dress ourselves up. And so we should. This is how you destroy the Oedipal myth. Do you feel as though you resemble your father? No, even if my mother says that there are similarities. My father was a tough man. Nothing like me. He had a sense of humor, even if I didn’t notice it then because it was packaged differently. A mocking humor but at the same time limp. He never hit me, never shouted at me. I, of course, was attached to my mother. Perhaps because he was often away on trips. We are more afraid of the unknown than of anything else, isn’t that so? There is a return to the 1960s in the play. Do you remember yourself then? It was an era that changed the face of the world. It started off all sugary and we ended up with the events of 1968, Kennedy’s assassination and so much else. I would get very excited then about things which I now condemn. You can’t imagine my joy when we left the neoclassical house in Piraeus in 1962 and moved into an apartment in Drosopoulou Street. I still remember the smell of the floor polish and the mosaic with the shells. And that new acquisition, the bidet! We didn’t know what it meant. What music did you listen to? The Beatles, Hadjidakis, Theodorakis, rebetika and Mozart. I was an arrogant individual, and at junior high school I tried to prove that rebetika and blues were one and the same. At the college in Kypseli where I learned English, in among all the football crowd there was a group of youngsters who went to the theater, listened to music, played the intellectual and had a somewhat dark side to them. How dark can you be at the age of 14? We would read Ionescu, Williams, Gogol, Cocteau, Embeirikos, Seferis and we set up a theater group. Strange, but the others didn’t deride us… The role models How do you explain the fact that so many young people made a pilgrimage to Abbey Road in memory of George Harrison? Perhaps the role models of the young generation today are a bit more transitory, on the level of DJs, not on the level of creators, but the reaction is the same as when we would collect some of grandma’s antiques. I adore the young generation. And if some people talk about everything being obliterated, it’s not the young to blame but the ones who came before them. My friends who criticize America and send their children to the American College, they want to protect them yet push them toward that which they hate. The young generation lives this contradiction. Unpleasantries So do we. On the one hand we have the war and bin Laden, while on the other we have a television full of rubbish. It’s always been like this. And during the war in the ’40s, at the same time as everyone was celebrating because we took (the town of) Tepelene (in WWII), they were gossiping about the neighbor because she’d done it with so-and-so. That’s life. What we used to call a nice neighborhood with jasmine trees and acacias had many unpleasantries too. A young woman would not dare to go out, someone could not be different. There was much bad-mouthing. Let’s not romanticize everything. Now everyone lets it out on television; this has taken the place of the neighborhood gossip. Do you watch Big Brother? There might be thousands of objections expressed toward its social and political background and I share them, but it interests me greatly for my work. The reactions of these people, the tone they use each time they say something and how they hide behind this. I’m ashamed to say it, but I crib from them. What saddens me, however, is how the modern Greeks as a whole have jumped on these kids. They ridicule them in a way which is totally unacceptable. It’s the same way in which they ridicule the Albanians for how they speak. But, they are 12 desperate kids who pawned their lives for 50 million drachmas. Or for something even greater; for that which we ourselves tell them is a shiny world full of glory. To be someone. Irony You’re excusing them, then. Have you been to a cafe today? Have you heard what they are saying next to us? The desperation and disorientation is enough to drive you mad. Those kids belong to us, they’re not strangers. I find it disgusting for the older generation to criticize the next. Why is someone who has no other option a target for ridicule? I’ve seen people degrading themselves in company offices, radio stations, newspapers… You should see the degradation there, and not for 50 million but fives and tens. We know which beds they go through in order to get a position. Is there, would you say, something which truly does have an effect on us? It might sound banal, but I’m returning again to poetry and the first books that I read. In one of Dostoyevsky’s characters I have found answers to things that have been muted for years. The contradiction which I see around me, only there can I find it again. Today’s authors approach life as though it were an image. They describe the outside. The older writers described the soul’s contradictions. You see contradictions far worse than the American who cries and then goes to kill using the Northern Alliance, whom he had fought when they were the Mujahedin. Concerns Are there phases similar to the 1960s today? No, just as the neoclassical house which has now become a supermarket doesn’t exist. The city itself, the center, is not like it was, when you would meet people you knew as you walked down the street. Now half of them have moved to the suburbs and the other half are like don’t talk to me, I have a career to pursue. Didn’t you have these concerns when you started out? Of course, we were lucky then. We had our work, the Elefthero Theatro, and the political-social-sexual issues would explode every night at Tsitsanis’s. I remember all those late nights when we ended up in the central market… Do you not feel nostalgia for the Athens nightlife? Melina (Mercouri) put it nicely: What’s the point of going out at night when you can’t flirt?