CULTURE

Entirely at home on the stage

He has a rare stage presence that is fueled by tremendous intensity and an extrovert nature. For years now, Tania Tsanaklidou has presented her true self to audiences. The seasoned singer feels totally at home on stage, which means that depending on the night, or moment, the performance can include arguments with fans, self-depreciation, exaggeration, improvisation, drinking and smoking. She is herself. It’s what fans can expect at her current series of shows, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, at the Metro venue in the capital’s downtown district of Gyzi. How do you prepare a show’s repertoire. Is it a matter of mood or purpose? All these years, I’ve done shows for one single person. My love at the time. So they’re along the lines of «I’ll show you» as well as «I’ve got something to say to you.» This time around there was nobody, which made me feel awkward. But, for this specific reason, I felt totally free… I called over the boys – Panagiotis Tsevas and Yiannis Papazachariakis, followed by Manolis Karadinis – and the set was ready in about two hours, with tears and emotion. But you still improvise every night. I realized early on that you’ve got to laugh and cry. I start off by laughing at myself. It liberates me every time I’m on stage. I don’t think that I’ll ever need the services of a psychiatrist… In other words you established a career through intense emotion. Is that the way it is? Women have the need for this kind of communication. I ask them from the stage, and they admit it. The modern woman is stifled by the role models imposed on her. She feels dejected about her body, image and personality. She has to push for the unattainable model-like dream, and if she doesn’t, she feels like she doesn’t exist. I come along with those extra kilos and years and liberate them. It’s like: «Girls we’re gonna cry because they abandoned us, but we’re not going to die.» So you introduce yourself to them as a middle-aged and overweight woman without a partner who continues to feel lust for life. I feel liberated when I joke about it. If I cry about these things, then I’m in trouble. It’s better that I cry over this at home. When things get terribly difficult, I isolate myself… Does all this also conceal an anxiety about death? All our psychological and neurotic ordeals stem from not knowing about how we’re going to die. This deprives us of a quality life. Only he or she who can accept death lives well. Otherwise, life becomes borrowed time. I experienced my first crisis over this when I was 16. One night, while I was reading, I noticed one of my mother’s belongings and thought, «That’s going to stay, but my mother and I will go.» And so I delved into matters concerning death. I was on Valium for 10 years and read all of Freud, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. How do you feel? I’m a collector of experiences. I like what I’ve lived. I don’t erase any periods of my life. How do feel about having established a [relatively early, for Greek standards] 9.30 p. m. start at the Metro venue a few years back? Well, people responded. The show’s over by 12.30, including encores. I can’t go on hearing about the public being the reason for everything. People can adapt and respond with punctuality. Is it the drive for more money that stretches the duration of a performance at clubs? Money and success are two dangers that make me tremble whenever they enter my life. I’ve seen myself become vulgar when in a position of power. A singer’s set shouldn’t last more than two hours. I get into arguments when collaborating with colleagues. They ask me, «But when are we going to get the chance to sing our songs?» Never, if that be the case. What kind of an audience do you prefer? The sort that makes me battle before I win it over. If I spot somebody who’s looking bored down there, I feel that I’m the one to blame. Your initiative at the current shows, to request money from audiences for stray animals, is entertaining but can also be offensive. They can go feel offended, then. At older festivals, they used to pay to dance. I do my full show. Extra songs are paid for and the money goes to stray animals… You’re preparing for a return to theater with a role in esteemed contemporary playwright Loula Anagnostaki’s «The Sound of the Gun,» directed by Elli Papaconstantinou. Are you flirting with drama again? I feel nervous about it. I haven’t taken on a demanding role since 1981… Drama interests me. After all, considering what I’m made of, how many years am I going to last as a singer? You’re concerned about your voice, but you smoke like a chimney during shows. That’s because they’re going to ban it after the festive season – a European Union directive…