In such hard times, it’s interesting to talk to Nefeli Kouri, who has recently starred in the Iliad, the Stathis Livathinos helmed play that took the stage this summer during the Athens Festival. Previously, she held roles in Aretousa, Vintsentzos Kornaros, Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, while also finding time for her Epidaurus debut, playing a small role in Ropewalkers by Stamatis Fasoulis. She has little time to spare. “After so many hours of rehearsals, you forget the world around you, you devote yourself to what you love and that provides you with the strength to create”, she tells Ozon Raw, in a conversation flowing against the tide of these difficult times, pushed on by the winds of her art.
Did you think that you role in Aretousa, would get you in the running as a candidate for a Melina pin?
No, especially not at first, since the role was split between three actors. I kept in mind that it would be a team effort, during which there wouldn’t be room for an individual to shine through. I was shocked by my nomination. Others around me, who were older, thought it was completely natural. It was a role I really liked, although I was very scared at first since I had never taken on such a part and there was also the language barrier to consider. So I wouldn’t say I was that carefree to begin with, or especially tuned in to the results of my work. That came in time. In the beginning I just wanted to achieve something.
Do you believe that talent can work independently from an actor’s training background?
I wouldn’t know what talent is. Personally, I studied at the Athens Music School, had a number of very good teachers, who played a huge role in my later achievements. But maybe it’s possible for a person to have something inside him that leads him instinctively to act. I strongly believe in the instinct and the mind of the person wishing to be an actor, but I also believe that studies are vital for an actor’s background.
Do you have any artistic goals or dreams?
I can’t say I have something specific in mind. I generally don’t work that way as a person. I find it too stressful. I definitely have dreams and I want to continue being involved with theater or do something connected to cinema. But I wait for things to come my way on their own.
Do you remain optimistic in these current times we are living in and especially the obstacles that actors face?
No, I feel very insecure, not just as an actor but as a person, with all these things happening around us. I’m scared and disheartened but the fact that there is no future here for young people. Most of them are leaving, and those that choose to stay, do so for little pay, no social security, under harsh working conditions and often forced to work far from their chosen field.
Do you have any spare time in between your strenuous rehearsals?
Usually in the mornings and after work, if there is time, I might go for a walk or a late night screening at the cinema. When I do have a little more time on my hands, I like to go cycling, walking, watch as much theater as I can and sing.
Is there a favorite lyric or a motto that suits you at this moment in time?
I find I identify with a few lyrics from a Hainides song that goes “During harsh weather it’s an honor to fly. Don’t cry bird of mine, don’t cry”
Interview: Despina Ramadani
Photo by: Yiorgos Kaplanides