NEW YORK – Renowned Greek director Ioli Andreadi translated and directs the new production of Ion by Euripides which is coming to New York April 25-27 for three performances. Andreadi spoke to The National Herald about her work, inspiration, and upcoming projects.
TNH: Did you always want to go into theatre?
Ioli Andreadi: I was always too absorbed by the troubles of growing up as well as school to know that I wanted to go into theatre. However, when I was 14 years old, my father Yangos Andreadis, an academic, writer, and theatre director, took me to tour with him in a show he had directed, where he had me play a Chorus part. It was then that I was informed by an actress that “theatre is like a worm; once you go up on stage, there is no going back” and so I think I started believing her unintentionally, only to become an off stage director presence.
TNH: What inspires you the most in your work and in life?
IA: I am deeply inspired and empowered by films and novels; i.e. works of art that are not as ephemeral as a theatrical performance and that carry with them the vestiges of their painful creation. When I read 400, 800, 1200, or even 1600 pages of a great novel, I realize how small and meaningless one’s own troubles are and how majestic life can be.
TNH: What do you hope audiences in New York will take away from this production after seeing the show?
IA: I hope they will take away three unique performances: the one by Dimitra Chatoupi, a famous Greek actress who is a giving, enchanting presence on stage, the one by Konstantinos Bibis, an award-winning young actor of extraordinary talent and pure devotion to his craft, and the one by genius musician Nikos Touliatos, who is accompanying the whole show, improvising on stage in the most intriguing manner. I also hope, even via the supertitles, that the audience will communicate with the new, contemporary translation of the tragedy directly from ancient Greek, which took me many joyful months to complete, as well as the adaptation of a whole tragedy for just two actors, which I prepared with my collaborator in writing, sociologist and playwright Aris Asproulis. Finally, I hope that the audience will appreciate the generous gesture made by The Municipal Theatre of Kavala and its Artistic Director Thodoris Gonis as well as its Board of Directors, to fund and support in every way Ion’s trip to New York, where, on a voluntary basis, we are going to present to the audience a show that we have all worked hard for and love, for three nights only.
TNH: How does working with this ancient text differ from working with other works by well-known playwrights, like Shakespeare, for example?
IA: Euripides’ language is so close to contemporary Greek that, in all honesty, 50% of his own words have remained the same in the new translation. This proximity of Euripides’ language, and at the same time his poetic distance, are both gifts for a director who is obsessed with the Classics.
TNH: Translation can also be a difficult process, how do you approach translating texts without being too literal, but also capturing the spirit of the play?
IA: Yes, translation can be a demanding process and I agree with you that the goal is to capture the spirit of the play. This is why one has to devote time and to also only translate texts that speak directly to one’s own heart, hopes, and imagination. Otherwise it risks becoming a “soulless” approach, something that is not true to the text.
TNH: What project or projects are you working on next?
IA: I am working on the dramatization of two famous classic novels, a Russian one and a British one, that will be presented in central stages in Athens next autumn and next spring respectively. And I am about to direct renowned Greek actor Petros Filippidis in Shakespeare’s King Lear. I cannot give more specifics at this stage. However, it does seem that a thrilling and adventurous path of dealing with the Classics is about to continue.