An interview with Tatou Dede
I believe in a better future and I’m willing to fight for it.
Angeliki Dede (AKA Tatou) is a young actress, dancer and musician whose artistic active print is closely intertwined with what constitutes “Greekness” and the issue of Greek identity within a landscape that is constantly reshaping. The Return of Iphigenia by Yannis Ritsos directed by the experienced Manolis Iwnas is a play in which Tatou stars and will travel to New York to represent Greece in the United Solo Theatre Festival ,the largest solo theatre festival in the world. After a two year run in Athens and on tour, the show, which will be presented on the 7th and 9th of November, is the only Greek participation in this New York festival.
Just before their trip to N.Y., we share some thoughts with Tatou.
- What is it that makes a young artist study writers like Ritsos and retrace their work?
A young artist studies people like Ritsos and deals with his work while trying to find a root. The basic form. It is an effort to meet and understand where she or he is coming from. I believe that every one of us, should go back to his/her roots, the foundations that can allow us to further build upon. A young artist who deals with such texts and writers, comes face to face with the realities of society and life. With all those things that define and allow him/her to move on to his/her own creative vision.
Furthermore, the experience that one gains by dealing with and delving into texts such as the Return of Iphigenia can be a “big school” for everyone, let alone a young artist. Managing words of a more literary and sophisticated language form, confronting basic emotions like fear, death, love and looking into philosophical ideas found in Ritsos’s writings – how does one lead a life, what can one expect, who makes the choices for us (if there is someone else who does), our family and our relationship with it, human nature and its futility; all this is a constructive “coming to terms with”. But today, there are many great writers, especially Greek ones, whom a young artist could and should research.
- How do you feel tradition functions regarding young people?
We need to carry our tradition within us as individuals and as artists. No one just landed on this world out of the blue without specific roots and origins. It is not the denial of tradition that can move a young artist but rather its acceptance. Delving into it, keeping all that is useful and good, letting go all the unnecessary. Without our tradition we would be hollow, with no memory, without a base. So I would say that tradition can creatively affect a young artist. It lives within him/her and thus adumbrates his/her path as a creative being.
-How do you think this show will communicate itself abroad? What are its bridges and reference points?
The show communicates itself through tradition. First of all through Greek tradition and also tradition within an international humanitarian context. For example, Iphigenia’s relationship with her mother, father and brother allow us to face the issue of the Greek family but helps us also realize family as a concept. Investigate its dynamics, the discriminations and free-will jeopardizing that can take place within it.
Moving into a more specific area, which actually touches the essence of the show, the fact that Iphigenia and Orestes did not choose the lives they led, brings us to the contemporary world. Today’s Greeks, today’s Europe, today’s world, today’s society. Greeks who are experiencing the economic crisis, live a life they didn’t choose. The same thing occurs in other European countries, the same thing happens in many other places around the world, and all this affects societies’ function. People have become a plaything of the capital, businesses and banks and their lives don’t really belong to them anymore. They don’t get to choose what lives they want to lead.
Thus we come to the question that Ritsos himself poses: "What are we then waiting for, within this disrepair? What are we still waiting for? "
And I also wonder, for how long we will keep waiting, for how long will other people decide for our lives.
- What do you feel is the role of myth today?
The role of myth today, I believe, is not as strong as it used to be. For example, fairy tales that kids in this age experience even in digital form, have become mundane. There are no heroes, but there are more anti-heroes. Demystifying is dominant, instead of the myth. The more humane a hero is, the closest he or she feels to us, “one of our own” as we say, the more powerful he or she is. If you try to create a myth today you are considered quaint and outdated.
Perhaps it would be useful to attempt to restore myth in our lives in an effort to create dreams. Through myth one can build an ideal world, reject and elevate elements. One can discover one’s strengths and weaknesses, become confident and hopeful, dream and set goals.
- You yourself are very active, constantly moving, going to places. What are your goals?
My goal is to get to know places, people, to be creative, to be inspired by and to inspire others. Through my art and my work I want to give wings to my tradition and my foundation. Let them visit places abroad, offer them new experiences and knowledge and allow them to return home ready for new adventures!! I am, after all, at the beginning of my artistic journey, still building its foundation. I believe in a better future and I’m willing to fight for it.
-Your plans for the future?
My future plans are to continue Iphigenia’s journey in other countries abroad. We have just been accepted to participate at the International Ankara Theatre Festival, in Ankara, Turkey, at the end of November. We’re also looking into visiting other countries. At the same time, we are already rehearsing our new show directed by Manolis Ionas, which will be presented at the Alcmene theatre in Athens. It will be a comedy - operetta with satirical elements based solely on texts and poems by George Souris.
[Translation: Christos Karanatsis]