Oedipus double bill at Epidaurus

«For me, daily life and art are one thing. I don’t have a personal life. All my life is connected to the theater.» Actress and director Roula Pateraki, both powerful and fragile at the same time, will direct Sophocles’ tragedies «Oedipus Rex» and «Oedipus at Colonus» in a National Theater production that is to be staged at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus this Friday and Saturday. She openly confessed to her fears in an interview with Kathimerini. «I am very afraid of Epidaurus. As time goes by, I become more and more in awe of Sophocles’ material. I am optimistic but I feel such a great responsibility; I have never experienced that before in my life.» What kind of responsibility do you feel? I feel responsible for antiquity. I am going up against something that has dimensions I hadn’t reckoned on from the beginning. Studying Sophocles and working on the translation with Yiannis Lignadis, I got deep into the ancient poet’s text. I saw that Oedipus said it all. All the torments that a man’s mind goes through, the genius that makes him good or bad, that can make him Macbeth or King Lear; they are all included in one monologue by Sophocles. Do you see this as an adventure? It is a dark adventure that terrified me, a new beginning that can open up new paths. I will go up against Sophocles with a contemporary person’s conscience and I will go up against Epidaurus, a historical and rigid venue. The theater is a defining factor in my approach. It is entirely different to stage an Oedipus play indoors. What challenged you in Oedipus? It was his feet, first of all. He was special from the moment he was born, since his father tied his feet together and gave him to a servant who abandoned him in the mountains. We have a strong destiny that is identified with his feet. When he blinds himself later on, that is his own doing. Do you plan a lot before directing a play? I study a lot, but during rehearsals I am spontaneous in the use of the text, the sets and the actors. Combining all that together can sometimes create huge surprises. Has your being a woman affected your work? It has had a negative effect. Greece is a male-dominated country and I have always encountered difficulties, not so much from colleagues but from state institutions and others. It is much harder for me to conquer something than it is for a man. What kind of plays do you prefer to direct? I started off as an actress and that is something that defines me. My favorite repertoire is Ibsen, Strindberg and Shakespeare, those are the plays I find the most approachable. I like Shakespeare but he has so many characters and is so costly to stage that he is forbidden to me.