‘La Strada’ finally hits the stage

What actually gives me stage fright is other people’s impatience, says Titika Stassinopoulou. She has a point. The theatrical version of Federico Fellini’s La Strada, which is being staged tonight at the Herod Atticus Theater, has aroused a number of expectations by theater lovers as well as that of the theater world in general. Interest has been generated primarily because this is one of the great Fellini’s tenderest works, where his wife Giulietta Masina and Anthony Quinn give life to an ill-matched yet unforgettable couple of poor daredevils. Furthermore, the role of Gelsomina, originally interpreted by Masina, will be played by Stassinopoulou, an actress who has not always been given a chance to fully demonstrate her talent. In this co-production of the Municipal Theater of Volos and the city’s Musical Theater Center, the actress stars alongside Spyros Focas (Zampano) and Giorgos Ninios (the Fool). Stage direction is by Yiannis Diamandopoulos and stage and costume design by Panos Papadopoulos. Stassinopoulou spoke to Kathimerini about performing this role. It seems that both La Strada and the role of Gelsomina have been on your mind for a while. I was a student at the National Theater’s Drama School when our class went to see the film. As soon as they saw Gelsomina my classmates were saying, ‘Hey that’s Titika.’ Without me realizing it, I had a number of things in common with Gelsomina; I sometimes talked in a strange and funny way, among other things. Anyway, we all thought it would be nice for the film to get a stage version. And that was the last of that until 1995, when during a Fellini tribute I met his sister and niece. We discussed my participation in a theater festival in Italy, and for my part, I came into contact with Pavlos Matesis in order for him to adapt it for the theater, as well as Yiannis Diamandopoulos for the direction. We didn’t go any further, though, due to other commitments. It was not the right moment then, but it is now. Meanwhile, Tulio Spinelo, the film’s original scriptwriter, adapted the script for the theater, and it was staged in Italy with Fabio Testi and Rita Pavone. This is the version we are staging as well. Besides Nino Rota’s music, which in this case was adapted for the stage by Nikos Kypourgos, are there any other Felliniesque elements in this production? The sense of loneliness as well as the film’s symbolism. Actually in our version the Fool’s role has been enhanced. Essentially, he is an angel. In other words, this is God coming between the victim, Gelsomina, and the victimizer, Zampano, who through the catharsis of love finally turns from monster to human. La Strada is a deeply religious work, though it avoids preaching. La Strada, at the Herod Atticus Theater, Dionysiou Areopagitou, tel 323.2771, 323.5582. Tonight at 8.30 p.m. Tickets are available from the Hellenic Festival box office, 4 Stadiou, in the Spyrou Miliou Arcade, tel 322.1459. Current projects include the new Seattle Public Library, a new Ian Schrager hotel in Manhattan (a joint venture with the Herzog and DeMeuron), the Ludwig Museum in Cologne and the Hermitage in Las Vegas. The construction of a concert hall in Porto, Portugal, the construction of a new city center for Almere in the Netherlands and the new Dutch Embassy in Berlin are also among OMA’s ongoing activities.

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