CULTURE

Gifted actress finds new talent

When this tall, lean figure began working at the Theatro Technis – where she also studied – performing in productions staged by esteemed directors such as Yiannis Houvardas and Lefteris Voyiatzis, Lena Kitsopoulou quickly became renowned as a special young arrival on the domestic theater circuit. «At some point I got an overdose of it and left for Berlin – for good, I thought,» recalled Kitsopoulou. But she returned. In between, a new chapter had opened up in her life. A collection of short stories she had written, released as «Nychterides» (Bats), while she was away proved popular and was awarded a Best New Writer prize by the local literature magazine Diavazo. The development encouraged her in further writing endeavors, this time for the theater. Kitsopoulou began with «Mnisthiti tin imera tou Savvatou» (Remember Saturday), written for the «Ten Commandments» series presented by the National Theater’s Experimental stage last year. This was followed by «Bats,» a play based on her collection of short stories, at Bios, as well as a short text for the «Bossa Nova… Live!» show by choreographer Constantinos Rigos, at the National Theater’s Kotopouli Rex Stage – both this year. Her foray into writing for theater is continuing at the Kefallinias Street Theater’s second stage, where Kitsopoulou’s «Prasino mou foustanaki» (My Little Green Dress), a one-act play, is being performed along with «Teleftaia Martha» (Last Martha), another one-act play, by Alexis Stamatis, under the umbrella title «Krypsones» (Hiding Places). It is directed by Vicky Georgiadou. Descriptions of the character in «My Little Green Dress,» performed by Maria Skoula, have ranged from ordinary to deeply troubled. «In her I see a face that’s just like us,» contended its creator. «Of course, this person strays a little bit further out, and at some point reaches the point of self-inflicted injury, but the things she talks about are very much us, common things… the toughness of daily life, the brainwashing involved in lifestyle-related matters, like feeling that you must be having a good time, be happy, beautiful, those kinds of things, which don’t really go down well with things that truly torment us.» At one point, the main character in «My Little Green Dress» expresses a desire to blow herself up along with everything around her. «She says this, but cannot do it. She’s in search of release but cannot find it, and it’s like she’s banging her head against a wall,» said Kitsopoulou. «She’s not exactly sure what’s going on with her, nor does she know how she will overcome it. She’s just waiting for something to happen. That’s why, at some point, she says that ‘there can’t be any action in this monologue, because there’s nothing terrible going on with me – being cheated on by my husband and being in love with a married man.’ Despite all that, she feels pressured, tries to understand, and gives up her initial intention to act for us and begins talking about various day-to-day things. At first she believes all is well. ‘All is well,’ she says. But by saying this over and over again, thoughts gradually begin to emerge and reveal all that trouble and torment her – from the telephone bills to her emotional life.» Asked whether her character was also capable of seeing positive things, Kitsopoulou responded: «She does, but she focuses on the negative things. Like me, when I write, which is probably why I write. That way, you sort of unleash the pressures within you. You live the good moments.» Considering this comment, writing, for Kitsopoulou, seems like a form of psychotherapy. «In a way. Writing, acting, theater are a form of release. Anybody who possesses such ways out is fortunate,» she remarked. Kitsopoulou said that at this point in her life she is interested in both acting and writing. «I very much want to continue as an actress. But with writing I’ve moved on to another perspective. I see the entire picture and I like that. In other words, I don’t know if I could be an actress all the time,» said Kitsopoulou. «Now, I also want to keep detached from time to time. I want both. Of course, I don’t know what will happen in the future.» For the time being, Kitsopoulou said she prefers prose and short stories. «It’s prose and short stories for now. That’s what happens when I sit down and write for myself. I feel more comfortable there,» she noted. But Kitsopoulou has already been commissioned another one-act play, for the National Theater. It will be performed by Maria Protopappa, and the pair will co-direct the project. Directing, too, then is another new chapter in the life of the gifted Lena Kitsopoulou.