CULTURE

Dukakis gets closer to Greece

«I want to learn all about the modern Greek culture, the museums, the music, the dance. It is something I know nothing about.» Witty and cheerful, 78-year-old award-winning actress and daughter of Greek immigrants Olympia Dukakis was eager to talk about her life and career during a press conference earlier in the week, where she also expressed her desire to get more in touch with today’s Greece. Dukakis is currently in Athens mostly for educational purposes. Yesterday she delivered a lecture/discussion at the American College of Greece as part of the celebrations of ACG’s 135th anniversary. She is also scheduled to run master classes for Deree theater arts students, as well as a series of seminars at the Mimi Denisi Central Stage drama school. «I would very much like to work in Greece; it would be extraordinary,» she said when asked whether it would be something she’d consider. The problem, not surprisingly, is the difficulty in raising funds, but she does have certain Greek-related projects in mind at the moment, one of them being «The Journey,» a collaboration with Greek-Australian director Nadia Tass. She added that previous attempts to bring her to Greece to perform at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus in the late 1990s just fell through. «I was very disappointed,» she said. A well-rounded actress, Dukakis may be known to the wider public for her career on the big screen but she has a solid background and extensive experience in theater. In addition to her powerful stage performances – she has successfully played widely diverse characters – she was a co-founder and artistic director of the Whole Theater Company in New Jersey, which she ran for approximately 17 years. In cinema, her big breakthrough came at the age of 56, when she won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, in 1987, for her role as Rose Castorini in Norman Jewison’s «Moonstruck.» Other memorable film roles include that of widow Clairee in «Steel Magnolias,» as well as her performance as the transsexual Mrs Madrigal in the television miniseries «Tales of the City.» A dedicated acting teacher on top of everything else, Dukakis has taught at New York University and Columbia University and has given seminars and workshops at colleges and studios around the United States. Teaching is a source of great satisfaction for her and she stressed that she finds it very exciting and meaningful to help students further their talents. In 2003, Dukakis published her memoir-turned-best-seller, «Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress.» Passionate activist Other than acting, Dukakis is also famous as an activist, largely focusing on women’s issues – especially domestic violence – but further dealing with environmental issues and victims of torture, among others, things she feels passionately about and has vigorously campaigned for over the years. Never shy in voicing her opinion regarding politics – most people remember her active support of first cousin Michael Dukakis’s presidential campaign in 1988 – she did not hesitate to show her overall concern when asked about the current political situation in the United States. «Yes, there is a new wind, but I am cautious. There is a very strong movement against [US President Barack Obama], which is unreasonable and inexplicable,» she said.