Stilvi Psilopoulou- Shiny Star In Acting
Interview by Vassilios Nicolaos Vitsilogiannis
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Larissa an amazing city built by the river Pineios. Filled with history and a rich cultural background. Let’s not forget the establishment of Thessaliko Theater which has given the space for so many prominent actors to communicate their art and also the first ancient theater of Larissa located in the city center. Every part of Larissa is also filled with my personal memories. It’s a place that I will always return to charge my batteries and meet my loved ones.
What did you initially studied and why you chose acting alongside?
I studied English Language & Literature at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. During my studies, I also attended a lot of acting workshops so as to combine these two big loves of my life. Later, I came to Athens and I got registered to Mary Vogiatzi Traga Drama School. I chose acting simply because it could decode my inner feelings and thoughts more creatively and eloquently than anything else.
How long have you been an actress? From where did you get started?
I’ve been acting since 2005 but this whole spiritual path was never linear, it was filled with transitional phases, ups and downs and me trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it. A very difficult path full of self-confrontation yet a very rewarding one in the end. Everything started from Thessaloniki from ”Ora Theater” whose owner was my most adorable acting teacher Mary Moraitopoulou an amazing and inspirational actress herself with so many accomplishments.
What kind of roles have you performed throughout your career?
I have almost performed everything. From classical comedy and drama plays to modern ones. But I think I am more attracted to modern ones.
What are the strong points an actors should have?
I really don’t know what works for every actor because it’s a very personal matter. For me, it is the intense personal situations I’ve been through. These are always the sources I’m using while acting or writing. Everything derives from my personal life and my philosophical perceptions. This is what creates my art and makes it rich and multileveled.
You’ve done quite a number of TV series. Mention some.
I starred some years ago in ”Oikogeneiakes Istories” a very popular and successful TV series with very high ratings. The stories were always very real and I think that this made the audience feel intimate to their content. It was a great experience for me being the lead and I was also very happy for the high ratings. Next, I took part in ”Klemmena Oneira”, a very prominent Greek TV series. There I had a very intriguing role of a double faced corrupted nurse who had the power of influencing people for her own benefit. I really enjoyed that too because this kind of roles are always challenging for the actor. In both TV series, I’ve worked with very important people and this was the greatest gain for me.
In how many theatrical plays have you performed so far?
The first theatrical steps were made in Thessaloniki. I was a lead in ”The Butterfly’s Evil Spell” by F.G. Lorca and in ”The Beet and the Devil” by Yorgos Alisanoglou both staged at Ora Theater. At Parathlasi Theater I played Lady Ann in ”Richard III” by W. Shakespeare. Later on I moved to Athens where ”Yard Gal” took place. It was produced for the very first time in Greece. I was the translator, the lead and the line producer of it and it was directed by the very well-known actor Alexandros Stavrou. Next show was ”Prisoners” by Ignacio Del Moral & Veronica Fernandez where I was also the lead. In the summer I took part in the chorus of ”The Saviors of God – Spiritual Exercises” by N. Kazantzakis directed and dramatized by Panos Aggelopoulos. This was staged at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It was such an amazing experience for me,a dream come true and a great honor to have played in this ancient sacred theater. Another show written by Kiki Selioni took me this time abroad to the stage of the Royal Central Theatre in London. I played Lady Macbeth there. Finally I directed ”A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by W. Shakespeare at Mavrommati Elementary School and I had so much fun working with all these children and expanding myself creatively into the role of the director. Right now, I’m in the process of writing something new-something I want to try, but I can’t disclose much right now.
Please tell me a few things about ”Yard Gal”.
”Yard Gal” was a milestone for me.
Two teenage girls do drugs and prostitute themselves in very violent urban and lonely background. No families around and no safe homes. They only have one another and they are ready to sacrifice their life for each other’s sake. They are luben and underground and they don’t care and they have come to tell to all these ”good” and ”respectful” citizens to fuck off because they are rotten deep down to the core and the have a terrible lack of morals while being so consumed with theirselves and how to take advanatgae of everything. They have come to tell all of us that what matters the most is true love between people, and true friendship. Those high morals these two girls have come in total contrast with their apperance and their lack of manners. They confront the ideas we have about what is really rude or not.
It was a play I first read while being a student in the University in Thessaloniki in one of Savvas Patsalidis’ theater courses (major theater critic and professor). So when I first read it I simply fell in love with it. It really reminded me of my teenage years and the so strong frienships I had back then. The truth of the play shocked me to my core. I said to myself that one day I wanted to play in it.
My dream came true few years later when I moved to Athens. I decided to stage and produce the play by myself. I tried to find it in the bookstores but it was never translated in Greek. Therefore I decided to undergo this procedure too. Christos Moraitis supported me a lot into this step by publishing it.
At the time I had finished translating it they called me to keep a role in ”Klemmena Oneira” the TV series I have already mentioned above. There I met Alexandros Stavrou and without knowing him personally, I kind of sensed that he would be able to understand the play. We had a scene together so we got to know each other and I told him my idea. He was very enthusiastic and supportive and he even offered to produce it by himself. I was the line producer and I co-starred with Mary Karfaki. The show was a great success and it was extended for a lot more months than we expected it to last due to the great demand of the audience.
This travel book is still continued.When the shows ended I thought about a unique way of promoting my Greek translated ”Yard Gal” book more. I thought that everyone should read it in order to come face to face with the big truth it confronts and not only the theater lovers, so to make it more popular I started taking pictures of it wherever I went. This was a really successful way of catching the attention of a lot of people.
What are some of the films you participated in?
I started participating in short films. The first one was called ”Nekros Thaftis” by Rena Harami, then ”6/2” followed by Maria Stefanidou. The last one was ”Black Boxed” where I wasn’t only starring in it but I have also written and produced it.
As for feature films the first participation was in ”The Balland of the Ripped Heart” by Yannis Oikonomidis. A film that will be on in October. It was a blast working with such an amazing director as Oikonomidis. Another film in which I starred is ”Ciao Italia” by Giorgos Papatheodorou where I was lucky enough to work with so many inspiring Greek actors like Ilias Logothetis and Elisavet Konstadinidou. ”Ciao Italia” will be out in September.
You have done a short film title called ”Black Boxed”. Tell us for your involvement to this.
This was a film I wrote and produced. I also starred in it. It was an inner urge to create it beacuse I had to communicate my feminist manifesto. It has to do with the dirty game social media and the cosmetic companies play on us, women. They want to make us feel inadequate and non valuable if we have wrinkles, cellulite and all kinds of non – Barbie/model like features. Women tend to forget who they really are and that beauty lies only in uniqness and imperfection. We are beautiful because we are unique on our own ways, each one of us. We need to wake up from thisemotional roller coaster of wanting to look like Barbie girls of hating our bodies of hating ourselves. We have to put an end to our need of waiting for the likes on Facebook in order to feel valued and accepted. The film was nominated by the Female Filmmakers Festival in L.A. and awarded with special honors by the Artfools Eco-Fashion Film Festival in Greece.
If you had to choose over one of the three, theater, cinema and TV, what would be the one do you choose?
That’s a difficult question because I really like all of them. Each one has their own charm and I want to use all those three means to communicate my art.
What is acting for you?
Acting is the most major and significant way I have to express my inner thoughts and feelings.
What’s your acting style?
I have attended many workshops on acting techniques but I think the Meisner one was closer to me. Finally I created my own style which is based on simplicity (less is more) and on the presence of the moment.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as an actress?
I think that my greatest accomplishments were ”Yard Gal” and ”Black Boxed” because they are my creations i.e. my children.
What’s your favorite actor and why?
What can someone say about the talent of Holly Hunter. She had such a great impact on me when I first watched ”The Piano”. Another one is Aggeliki Papoulia for her simple and at the same time direct acting style.
What sort of acting roles will you be seeking in the future?
I’ve always liked roles that depict lumpen individuals, but I also liked comic ones though. I guess I am easily getting bored with something which stands in between.
In Town Post.com
STILVI PSILOPOULOU TALKS TO TINA PANOROU
4th June, 2018
''...I don't think that we should blame the crisis or our problems for our lack of creation, but our lack of enthusiasm. The lack of courage to see the truth as it is and to take our responsibility for all the good and the bad things in our life.''
Stilvi Psilopoulou studied drama both in the cities of Thessaloniki and Athens. She is a graduate of both ''Mary Vogiatzi- Traga Drama School'' as also English Language and Literature. She is well acquainted with phonology, music and dance. She has been in the shows: ''Richard III'' by William Shakespeare, ''Butterflies Evil Spells'' by F. G. Lorca and others, in TV series and in the short films ''Nekros Thaftis'' directed by Rena Harami and ''Black Boxed'' in which she also wrote the script, directed by Manos Antoniou. Besides of translating ''Yard Gal'' we saw her perform the one of the two leading roles of the play, directed by Alexandros Stavrou and co starring with Mary karfaki. She has also participated in ''The Saviours of God - Spiritual Exercises'' by Nikos Kazantzakis, directed by Panos Aggelopoulos at the theater of Herodes Atticus, while at the theatrical period 2017-2018 she took part in ''The Prisoners'' by Ignacio del Moral & Veronica Fernandez.
Let us start with the current release of the psychological thriller ''Yard Gal'' by Rebecca Prichard (Moraitis Publications), which you have translated. It is about the story of Marie and Boo...
It is a story of two teenage girls who run away from Hackney's Orphanage in northeast London. They drink alcohol, take drugs, prostitute themselves and get into fights with other same type girl gangs. Between them there is an indissoluble bonding. We are talking about this kind of friendship teenagers have, that doesn't have any personal interest. Only pure love and honesty. So, those two girls, those two lumpen personalities have come to teach a moral lesson yet a love one to all these settled, ''white-collar'' well behaved people, who are only concerned about their admirable self and their admirable social status. These girls have come to knock down every fake facade and to make the audience come face to face with their own truth. That's why this theater genre is called ''in-yer-face theatre''.
This really tough play was staged in Athens this year with you in one of the two leading roles. What is the feeling this work left you by?
''Yard Gal'' will be a work I will always remember. It is my ''child'' and I loved every piece of the process of staging it. The direction of Alexandros Stavrou took this ''spiritual'' journey to higher levels and I thank him deeply for that. Without his support, nothing would have been done. Finally, I don't know from where to start talking about my co-star Mary Karfaki. I could have never found a better Marie . Her patience, strength and calmness were always there to help us stick together our broken pieces when we had difficulties. This show was created by many people and loved by even more, that's why it drew so much attention by the Athenian audience.
''Yard Gal'' belongs to ''in-yer-face'' theater. This was first called ''brutalism''. What is it about? Is the Greek audience able to handle this kind of ''aggressive'' theater?
''In-yer-face'' theater started in the '80s and was called new brutalism in the beginning. It is a theater genre whose aim is to provoke and to attack the audience in order to set the alarm on their conscience. It uses a shocking and raw way to talk destroying taboos and prejudice making the audience feel they lose the ground from under their feet. It pushes us to the edge, in order to make us re-evaluate our society's morals. What it really does is to tell the truth far from everything fixed and fake, a thing that really bothers the audience because it makes them feel stripped. Other things that characterize it are: rude language, the characters of the plays maybe cynical reflecting society's brutalism and how the social mechanisms function on us, violence on stage, mainly teenage issues, it makes you feel that the show is based on improvisation. In this theater genre you don't have the time to analyze what you see, you are not detached. This detachment is a Brechtian element. Brecht's plays are calling on our logic, but here we deal with our emotional part and what comes first is what we feel. A characteristic example of ''in-yer-face'' theater is Sarah Kane who first appeared in the '90s. She used violence on stage and there were scenes where she urinated in front of the audience, cursing e.t.c. This theater genre addresses literally the audience and it is angry, aggressive and raw.
The audience really loved it, although moments before our first show we were so afraid that some scenes maybe intolerable for the audience. What we saw though was entirely the opposite. We saw an audience identifying themselves with us, with our truth. We saw people coming over again and again. We feel gratitude for the love we received through this work.
What kind of profile - if I can use this phrase- had the spectators who were coming at Vault Theater? Definitely not the ladies with their purple hair who usually fill the theaters?
The funny thing is that while in the beginning I thought that Yard Gal would be supported by the less social accepted people, like the roles we play, it took me by surprise to see that people from all ages and kinds were coming to see our show. They also had a very warm applause in the end.
The playwright Rebecca Prichard was 27 years old back then when she wrote this play and she staged it with ex-convicts, right?
The play was written for Clean Break Theater Group which collaborates with ex convicts. It was first staged at Royal Court Theater in 1998 and was awarded by the Critic's Circle Award as the most promising play.
The previous season you were in ''The Prisoners''. What was the story of this show?
''The Prisoners'' is written by Ignacio del Moral and Veronica Fernandez directed by Dimitris Karatzias. This was one of the strongest professional experiences I've ever had. We are in a Spanish abbey that works as a prison, around the 20th century. Women who were blamed for and convicted to death, prostitution, psychiatric problems, or even for their communist ideals all co-exist in a steer, isolated and cold environment. Through the hard times, the hassles and the constant punishments, the prisoners create strong bonds with each other. Friendship bonds and hatred ones, too. The game of rules, the rapes, the abuses they undergo, the pursuit of freedom because of a custom that takes place in the country every ten years (the celebration of Saint Perpetua where one woman prisoner is freed with grace) constitute issues that make the women fight, curse, be violent and marginalize each other. A tough play but at the same time very attractive for an actor.
Let's leave the shows for a while... Did you start your studies in English Literature at the same time with the drama workshops to please your parents, as this usually happens?
One of my dreams was always to study English Literature because of the big love I have for the language and the culture of this country but at the same time there was the love for acting. Both decisions were taken consciously and I am really glad I managed to combine them both.
From that time on you have been working as an actress. Do you make ends meet nowadays by being an actor? You translate works of prominent English writers. Do you enjoy this so lonely occupation?
I think that when you really love what you do, you find a way to do it no matter the hard times we live in. But I don't even like the phrase ''the hard times'' we live in. Older times were as hard as ours for the artists and I don't think that we should blame the crisis or our problems for our lack of creation, but our lack of enthusiasm. The lack of courage to see the truth as it is and to take our responsibility for all the good and the bad things in our life. For me it is not an economic crisis but a consciousness one that eventually is a good thing happening because it gives us the chance to re evaluate ourselves.
Translating is one of the most creative journeys someone can experience. The joy to find the most suitable way to express the language and culture of a country into another one is pure magic.
Do you have any summer professional plans?
There are many plans running for both movies and theater. For the time being I promote my short film. I have written the script and I also star in it. The short film was also nominated in the Female Filmmakers Festival in Los Angeles.
And on a personal level do you most enjoy summer or winter?
My favourite season is summer definitely, the summer of the Greek traditional salad, of the cobbled streets, of camping, of carelessness and of the vast sea. So have a nice summer and let's all live in NOW to the full.
The theater on the web
Edited by: Maria Kiriaki
Thursday, 09th February 2017 09:01 a.m.
The young actress with phonetics, music and dance knowledge possesses magnificent kinesiology and excellent well- built expressive means while her stage appearance is excessive and powerful. She studied theater in Thessaloniki and Athens and she holds a graduation degree from ''Mary Vogiatzi Traga'' Drama School and from The English
Language and Literature. She has performed in the plays : ''Richard III'' by William Shakespeare, ''The Butterfly's Evil Spell'' by F. G. Lorka and other(s), in TV-series and in the
short films '' Nekros Thaftis'' directed by Rena Harami ''Black Boxed'' written by her and directed by Manos Antoniou. This year we saw her perform the very challenging role of a young teenage girl's quaint life and personality in the show ''Yard Gal'' by Rebecca Prichard, directed by Alexandros Stavrou accompanied by her co-star Mary Karfaki. She has also signed the translation of the play, which is about to be published soon.
What was the thing that urged you to chose this craft?
Actually, I don't believe that something specific urges you to be an artist. You are born this way. It's your nature. I think that you don't even have the choice to avoid it. It is just an inner need, that you always carry inside of you. It's the need to express yourself. As time goes by this need makes you travel into unique paths of creativity. This is the magic of Art.
What obstacles have you faced in the translation of the play?
There were many obstacles, because the play is written in slang all the way. So I had to transfer this dialect into the equivalent Greek one, while staying true to the original text and at the same time keeping the perfume of this language spoken in the streets. A great help in this process was the use of the Greek slang ''kaliarda''.
In what way did you approach the two heroines and how did you communicate with their quaint psychics?
At this part, the intervention of our director was very crucial. We mainly worked with improvisations but also with the many discussions/conversations we had that were all aiming towards the understanding of the play and of the messages it passes on. The most important thing we had to do, though, was to look deep inside our souls in order for us to grasp the psychic and the experiences these two girls have and to perceive their world, so that we can communicate their tough route and treat it with the respect it needs.
How was the cooperation with your director?
Our co-operation with Alexandros is definitely something that we will always carry in our souls for ever and always return to. All the things he taught us all this time we worked with him, were priceless. Also, the affection he embraced us with, empowered us to move forward steadily into this difficult play.
What is it that made these two girls so attractive to the audience?
The theater genre our play belongs to is called ''in yer face theatre''. This means that here we are dealing with a raw anti- stylistic play. A play characterized as a punch in the stomach.
At the beginning the girls are far from being liked by the audience. Finally, they achieve to be liked because they through their masks and show to the audience their truth and the intensity and authenticity of their emotions. They prove through their acts that they are not afraid either to feel or to be real. They don't make discounts in anything. They are not afraid to expose themselves, to express and communicate their emotions to the full.
How did you handle the violent and the tender side of the heroines?
Those two counterbalancing emotional states are like stretched ropes on which we try to balance throughout the play all the time. These girls experience tremendous harsh situations. Grown up in violence, they produce violence themselves, sacrificing their child-like qualities, keeping only one thing safe. The love, they feel for one another that surpasses everything else.
What are your dreams for the future?
I hope I continue to express my self through my craft and create offering as many things I can.
How do you see the theater scenery in our country?
Things are difficult for the young actors but still not unattainable. More and more young people work in the theater and I really like it. I also like the fact that there are many alternative stages and bare in mind that this is happening especially in the economic crisis. That's why I'm happy seeing all these young people having the need to express themselves throughout the theater and finally to find a way to do it. This spiritual restlessness is for sure an optimistic message for the Greek society.
In which way would you handle your anger and despair if you truly were in your heroines shoes?
I think with the same way she does.
The chemistry you and your co-star had on stage was amazing. How was it created?
I proposed this role to Mary Karfaki without knowing her personally and I was so happy she accepted it. How this chemistry was created is something absolutely magical. We are two totally different personalities but who with a unique way we complete each other utterly. She is my better half. It was an honour to work with her and I hope we do many more stuff in the future.
What are the similarities and differences you and the heroine have?
Although our lives are totally different, I have a lot in common with Boo, mainly at the intensity of her feelings and the importance she poses on friendship.
How does the audience reacts at the show?
The audience is very rewarding and full of love towards us and this is what gives us the strength to carry on. There is intense emotion at the end and a strong applause to accompany us.
Tell me a few things about the short film ''Black Boxed'' on which you star with the double of being both the writer and the actor.
The shootings of the film will be completed in a few days and it is about to be sent in many film festivals. ''Black Boxed'' is about the dirty game that is being played against women by the beauty industry factors and their economic benefits that turn against female sex. They create fake beauty models, marginalizing the ordinary type women. Those women end up overpowered by the syndrome of an appearance far more different than their own nature, age and their unique personality. This way they loose themselves running after the ''likes'' on Facebook and trying to show an ''ideal'' face which doesn't represent who they really are.
It's a hot potato and a contemporary issue that should seriously concern all the today societies and the feminist movements. I wish you all the best.