CULTURE

Actress Amalia Moutousi in new Lefteris Voyiatzis production of ‘Antigone’

The actress Amalia Moutousi has had some experience with ancient drama. She has also worked with director Lefteris Voyiatzis before in contemporary plays, with impressive results. But the combination of ancient tragedy and Voyiatzis is a first and their collaboration on Sophocles’ «Antigone» is the production that will mark the end of the Epidaurus Festival of Ancient Drama tomorrow and Saturday. Apart from directing, Voyiatzis will also star alongside Moutousi (in the title role) as Creon, backed by an exceptional cast of young actors (Nikos Kouris, Evi Saoulidou and Dimitris Imellos, among others). Will this production be a redux of the impressive «Antigone» which Voyiatzis staged 14 years ago in his own small theater, or something completely new? Either way, with such a cast and crew (Chloe Obolensky doing the costumes, Spyros Sakkas on music, Ermis Malkotsis on movement and Lefteris Pavlopoulos on lights), it is a promising venture, and Moutousi is facing the challenge head-on as she celebrates 20 years on the stage. Is your 20th anniversary in the theater an occasion to take stock of your career? What can I say? There’s the weight of experience which you can rely on or become bound to. On the other hand, there are moments when you just want to forget the past and start over again… It is not easy, however, to escape what you have become. Why, at the peak of you career, do you allow so much time to elapse between performances? Maybe because for the first 15 years of my career I had no personal life… This, of course, meant that I performed a lot and reaped a lot of benefits but I also lost touch with my «normal» self, my home life, friends, traveling… Did you see Voyiatzis’s 1992 «Antigone»? Of course, and I liked it very much. I was particularly impressed with the language, Nikos Panayiotopoulos’s translation and the way the actors spoke. There was something childish about the performance but there was also a lot of wisdom. Is the new production very different? Inevitably, it is. First of all, it is being staged in an open-air theater and that has its own requirements. In essence, however, I don’t think that very much has changed because Lefteris [Voyiatzis] still wants the words of the play to start from within and then come out in full force… Do you like Antigone as a character? I am trying to come to grips with this creature… What did you think of Antigone before you took on the role? I always thought she was noble. But it was something very abstract in my mind. I couldn’t understand how she had so much strength. You see, we have a very specific image in our minds of Antigone: a strong, sure, decisive fighter. But with Lefteris we tried to look at her from a different angle. He is very interested in Antigone the child but not in the realistic sense. He does not want me to play a child, but he wants to see the essence of the character, the knowledge children have and adults don’t. Do you mean innocence of spirit? Yes, along with something that is deeper than the knowledge gained from experience. Children have an instinct that we seem to have lost. And that is even more attractive. What happens to make us lose that simple nobility we have as children? This is important on many levels. For example, when Teiresias says to Creon, «’Tis thy counsel that hath brought this sickness on our state,» he is talking about the infection of an entire society. We see this in the present day. You look at the city in which you live, the one next it and the one next to that, and you see that the city is sick. Not from the garbage that is piled up on its streets, but from something much, much deeper. And you try to see what this illness is and who is responsible for it. And then you realize that you, as a person, and all the people around you, are asleep. You sleep until things reach a boiling point and then you wake up. I think these are issues we can all relate to, on an existential and societal level. Are you disappointed by the situation in Greece? Yes. Very. To the point that I no longer know how to react. I don’t let it get me down; I try to understand and do what I can. But I don’t know what we are coming to. I don’t understand how people can be so wrapped up in their own egos. This absolute lack of basic social behavior which makes even a simple exchange impossible. This thick-skinned ego. It is like mankind is mutating. Something is happening to mankind and we must do something about it, just as we must do something about the changes to the earth and the environment. We are all partially responsible. We hole up in our egos with no sense of collective responsibility, no sense of history.