CULTURE

Letting it all hang out on stage

One loves it when he looks at himself in the mirror; the other when he doesn’t. One is boring and unsociable; his only pleasures are the video, old movies and his cat. The other can’t express himself easily because when he was a child his mother wouldn’t allow him to speak. Both want to talk to their psychoanalyst. They talk to each other on stage in «Let’s Talk» (Ta Leme), a new play by Lazopoulos which opens at the Ivi Theater at the end of this month. It is a meeting between two generations of comedians, the older and the younger, otherwise Giorgos Constantinou and Lakis Lazopoulos, who psychoanalyze the past and the present. Said Constantinou: «We had met only once previously, but now I feel as though I have known him for years. But I was surprised when his secretary called me.» Said Lazopoulos: «We’re not speaking of two generations of actors, but of one which has preserved a modern style of acting. Constantinou has always been distinguished by the way he played his parts. I was apprehensive before we started rehearsals, but as things proceeded, I realized that we had a common approach to comedy and acting. Before then, we had formed different impressions of each other. I feared he would be abrupt, that’s why I made my secretary call.» Constantinou commented: «I’ve been misunderstood my whole life; I’m really a coward. Girls would say to me, ‘You’re nothing like the guy we saw on stage, you’re different.’ Success came straightaway for Lakis and I thought that he looked down on those of us who worked in a different dramatic style. He visited me and I realized that I’d been wrong.» There is a difference in age. Didn’t your approaches differ? L.L.: It was like in the play. Two people unacquainted but acquainted. We’re at the mercy of certain images, and so reject certain people and situations. What I call «high light culture» imposes combinations and unions which you can’t violate. But in the theater, you must find the right person. Do two clients ever really meet at the same time in their psychoanalyst’s office? L.L.: One of our watches is wrong. They meet and there is a nervous tension in the air as they eye each other. The psychoanalyst is stuck in traffic and the more he delays, the more the two heroes open up to each other. Something happens, they communicate. They don’t want to say goodbye, until the truth is revealed. I have always written about how the outer world influences the inner. This was the first time that I didn’t look around but inside me. G.C.: It’s a philosophical comedy, a film which treads a fine line between tragedy and comedy. Just as in real life. You’re at a cemetery. Someone approaches, crying. They step on a banana skin. You can’t help but laugh. Have you ever been to a psychoanalyst? L.L.: For about a year. I felt the need to talk to myself, and, as Freud said, self-psychoanalysis is as a rule unsuccessful. In the end, I learnt things I hadn’t a clue about. G.C.: I’m afraid I would drive a psychoanalyst mad. I experienced so many tragic situations in my life, they became like a ball of wool. Instead of going to a psychoanalyst, I ripped the ball up with a pair of scissors. I don’t believe anyone can help me solve my problems. Does our era encourage psychoanalysis? L.L.: I feel I never have time, but I don’t know where I waste it. I have meetings all day for some reason or other, but ultimately don’t know for what reason. In contrast, Giorgos leaves time for himself. Psychoanalysis means, «I’ve got some time, I’ll go to the psychoanalyst to try and work out who I am.» We have psychoanalysts because people don’t have any time for themselves. Does psychoanalysis help you develop a relationship with time? L.L.: If I started today, it would be chaos. Psychoanalysis requires concentration on the person with whom we are talking. My problem is that I can’t concentrate. It’s also true that depression is a growing problem. How many happy faces do we see around us? It’s the first time in my life that I go out so much at night. At around two or three a.m., I feel so stressed-out that if I don’t do something wild, I’ll go crazy. I never had this need before, I used to go home relaxed. Now I’m constantly searching for release, to break something, to tip over a table. The young Are we increasingly trying to mimic certain lifestyle models? L.L.: Young people involved in art today are more like virtual reality people. This is frightening. They have «open shirt» careers: If they do up the shirt, their art’s finished. This is the first time the breast has had such a close connection with art. This creates careers with a three-year service, as in the infantry. Three years on television, three years for the magazines to show them undressed. As soon as they’ve been exhausted, we go on to the next lot. G.C.: Television drags everything down to the lowest level; it has adopted many of theater’s worst features. Thankfully, though, theater is currently going through its own revolution. L.L.: Television ratings are the most destructive thing. Since they started, all contact with reality has been lost and things are getting worse and worse. Does the trend toward a «lounge scene» we see spreading in Athens clubs (relaxing sofas, low lighting, etc) encourage conversation or is it just a pretense at communication? L.L.: We had reached such a low level that we had to start talking again. Lowering the music and starting to talk is an effort at communication, in contrast to the previous trend. Three years ago, the music in clubs was so loud nobody could talk. Sensitivities What is it about yourselves that makes you more vulnerable? G.C.: Extreme sensitivity. Even as a kid, if I saw someone looking at, for example, a tape recorder in a shop window I would invent stories in my mind. They want it for some child, I would think. If I’d continued like that, I would have gone mad. So I acquired safety valves. L.L.: I feel emotionally vulnerable. I want to yield to an emotion. I’m horrified by method and calculation in life. I hear people say, «Did you ring her? Wait three days, she’ll go crazy.» Lately, I’ve only been meeting people with emotional strategies. I’m a passionate person, whether in anger or love, so the idea of having a concept for dealing with emotions horrifies me. G.C.: In contrast, having led such an oppressed life, I’ve managed to control my sufferings. I’m vulnerable to external passions, like gambling. I’ve never had really passionate emotions. I’ve fallen in love, but I don’t remember crying over it. I sense that your collaboration also led to you psychoanalyzing each other. G.C.: Yes, but we haven’t exhausted the subject. I don’t want to burden people with my problems. L.L.: We exchanged certain glances before opening up. Constantinou is like a book with a peevish-looking cover. What’s important is to begin reading. Then its story captivates you.