CULTURE

Seasoned actress enjoying new round of activity

The upcoming Easter holiday season finds Reni Pittaki having come out of a different winter. For the first time in her career, the favorite actress of Karolos Koun, the late founder of the esteemed Theatro Technis, starred in a television series, «10,» one of the season’s most successful, based on the last – and unfinished novel – by M. Karagatsis. Her work there was immediately followed by a role in an entirely different project, «Aalst,» a harsh play because of its infanticidal element, at the Thiseion Theater. And now she already has in her hands on the text of a play she had long wanted to do, «O Ouranos Katakokkinos» (The Red Sky) by Loula Anagnostaki, being prepared for the summer’s Athens Festival. The project is being directed by Nikos Hatzopoulos. Obviously experiencing a second wave of heightened activity, the seasoned actress spoke to Kathimerini. Both you and the director Piyi Dimitrakopoulou were vindicated for the way you chose to portray Elenara in «10.» I think so, yes. Because, in the novel, Elenara is described as swollen, miserable, overblown and dirty. We didn’t do her that way. She changed; she was beautified but with balance, to keep the gist of it. I felt many reservations about how it would turn out. At what point in the series did you feel that you had done the right thing? Somewhere in the middle. It took time for both the series and Elenara – the way we chose to do her – to make impact. Generally speaking, an attempt was made for this project to avoid coming across as quaint and nostalgic – in the sense the references to how our lives and neighborhoods once were. The Athens Festival and the monstrous one-act play «The Red Sky» by Loula Anagnostaki is now approaching. What interested you about this play. It strikes deep in my heart. This woman is a person who suddenly rejects her social surroundings. «I no longer want to be that,» she says. She prefers the fringe and goes to live in a room next to Korydallos Prison, where her «ugly and stupid,» as she says, son is jailed. She is a middle-class teacher of French, a left-wing widow whose husband was a leftist activist. «This is my revolution,» she tells her dead husband. She chooses the fringe because she does not feel that society’s ordinary aspect offers support, values and principles. She speaks openly: «I don’t want these people with their cars, holiday houses, excursions, children; they can have it all. I don’t want it.» It’s a very strong position that she supports, one often found in Anagnostaki’s characters. They want to escape to a free yet undetermined state, one that’s classless, a ghost which they nevertheless pursue no matter what. Having performed many roles for Anagnostaki over the years, what kind of a relationship do you now share? It’s like family, a situation in which you may not see each other often, be separated by distance, annoyed with something, but you’re always there. Loula is an eccentric person. When Giorgos Heimonas [author-psychiatrist], her husband, died, I read somewhere her response to a question she had been asked: «What difference does it make if his death hurts me or not?» she said. «I am here, I live, smoke, watch television. The significant thing is that he lost his life.» I called her up and told her how much I love her. It’s a relationship in which, even if nothing is said about our lives, both sides know. How do perceive yourself in the world of theater these days? I like freedom of choice, the alternating state of being both in and out of theater. Theatro Technis Having long left the Theatro Technis, how do you view its condition? I think it’s high time that not only the state, but the people who manage it, meaning the company and its board, had a think about where it now stands and what needs to be done with this historic theater. There was a transitional phase following the death of Giorgos Lazanis. It’s time decisions were made. Now. Is there any chance of you returning there? That depends on developments and what these will be. The important thing, whether I’m there or not, is for the Theatro Technis to try to become something that somehow resembles its reputation. Do you tend to look back or is this something you avoid? There has to be a reason for it to happen, some discussion, something. I don’t tend to return to the past, it doesn’t interest me. I’m interested in the present. Do you miss people who have passed away? Loss creates mourning, whether people have died or not. It may not be at the forefront, but I haven’t come to terms with the death of [stage director] Mimis [Kougioumtzis]. I’ll borrow Loula’s comment to say that the important thing is not what I feel, but that he lost his life. Did he remain a central figure in your life after you separated? He was my family. My parents died young and I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. Mimis was my family. And a few friends. Did you deliberately avoid a second marriage or did it just not occur? I never wanted marriage. Not even with Mimis. We did it mostly for my father’s sake. I never felt the need to build a household, have children, and so on. Not even children? No. I thought about it strongly at one or two points in my life, but it never really worried me. But I feel an immense tenderness for my friends’ children. One old woman friend says: «Do you know what the Chinese say? Whoever has children can enjoy them, and whoever doesn’t can enjoy!» Don’t you get lonely? Sometimes, something like fear comes along in the middle of the night, but it’s just a moment and passes. After all, this kind of life is a personal choice. And I don’t know if I could do otherwise. Relationships and companionship are good things, but even then I need my space. Do you make new friends or do you feel totally comfortable only with old friends? No, no I feel comfortable with old friends, and I’m also willing and interested in new friendships. After all, as old friends we carry a burden, whereas freshness is freshness – a renewal, another perspective.