CULTURE

Journey through total darkness to new light

She reads and takes numerous good plays into consideration, but as soon as she was done with «Frozen,» Anita Dekavalla immediately singled it out. The actress reads constantly and not just in search of prospective productions for the Exarchia Theater, which she stages with her longtime associate, the director Takis Vouteris. «Our senses have been flattened. We don’t get excited as easily. Only potent material can touch us,» said Dekavalla. «When you read so many plays, most of which you’ve forgotten about a week later, the one that continues to occupy your mind makes the difference.» Bryony Lavery’s award-winning «Frozen,» now playing at the Exarchia Theater – as translated by Dekavalla – is a modern examination of the condition of pain, in 32 parts. «Its structure is advanced and it possesses strong theatrical feeling and impeccable technique by a playwright with deep knowledge of drama,» noted Dekavalla. A psychological thriller, «Frozen» is based on the story of two women who manage to overcome worst-case scenarios. «The disappearance of a 10-year-old girl brings together three individuals from different worlds. There is the missing child’s mother, a psychiatrist who has lost her lover and a lonely serial killer,» remarked Dekavalla. «It could well be an analogy of whatever hurts us. Of course, it takes an extreme situation, such as death, the loss of a special person…» The actress was particularly drawn to the resilience of the story’s heroines. Playing the part of Nancy, the mother, proved particularly challenging, Dekavalla admitted. «I read lots of accounts on the Internet by parents who have lost their children – material that helped me shape my role,» said Dekavalla. «At one point, the mother forgives the murderer. I didn’t know how to approach that. I initially perceived it as poetic nonsense. But the accounts of several parents, explaining how this took away the burden that had weighed them down for years, opened the way for me.» Entering and exiting such darkness on a nightly basis is not easy for the cast, let alone the theatergoers. «I look at it as a dark journey that eventually leads to light. It’s not burdensome. All of us feel the need to hear about how we can overcome things, no matter what happens in our lives,» explained Dekavalla. The actress began her association with Vouteris, the director, back in 1976 at the Piraeus Theater, a collaboration that led them to the Exarchia Theater in 1990. «Our productions, cast members and directors are worthy – professional projects with intensity and substance… The weak point is the lack of state support… The way things have become in local theater, the only thing we dream about is continuing to exist. The government has handed out some subsidies but they don’t guarantee the future of theaters like ours.» Exarchia Theater, 69 Themistocleous, tel 210.330.0879