The household names

There are two kinds of people, according to one proverb: those who want to do something and those who want to be something. This phrase holds the key to understanding an impressive statistic: Each year, 700 actors graduate from the country’s drama schools, according to a recent press conference by the board of the National Center for Theater and Dance. Bypassing important questions, such as what schools these graduates come from, what kind of education they receive and who provides it, let us turn to the motive behind these numbers. Why do so many hundreds of young people want to become actors? And what exactly do they have in mind when they choose this profession? Experts purport that it all comes down to confusion. As a social environment, the «dramatic arts» function, first and foremost, through television. Private TV, which made its appearance here in the 1990s, has since dumbed down the concept of the actor in favor of promoting the idea of the household name. In this professional category, the definitions are most certainly vague, and competition is fierce. «Everyone performs theater in Greece, except actors,» says one well-established director, who observes the reversal of this occurs in such an offhand manner. When acting becomes part of the broader scene (recently one former minister appeared on a popular comedy show) then what chance do the real professionals have? The pursuit of the limelight has become so widespread that it has undermined the quest for anything more meaningful. It feeds show biz and aims at recognizability. The candidate does not seek to «do something,» but «to be something.» The reason is that he/she knows that the former requires effort and the outcome is never certain, while the latter ensures much-coveted fame. And so, a skewed system of education in the dramatic arts becomes another statistic and its students become expendable products of it, while the system continues to churn them out.