INTERVIEW DELINA VASILIADI
When did you first get involved with art, books, writing and theatre? Which art form expresses you best?
Delina Vasiliadi: I have been reading, writing and painting since I can remember. All my life. My parents simply adore art, books, music… My mother is the very-well known Greek painter, Lizeta Vasiliadi, and she inculcated in me her love for beauty and the arts. One of my earliest memories is me –at an extremely young age- painting next to her in her art-studio, while she was working. Painting and writing were part of my everyday life, of my everyday routine. I cannot remember myself, ever, while I was growing up, without a paint brush or a pencil in my hand, painting something, drawing something, writing words, phrases, short stories… wherever I could find empty space. On pieces of papers, on napkins, on the covers of books… So, I have to say that becoming a writer came very naturally in a way. I adore children and writing fairy tales is something that gives me great joy. I have always loved the theatre; I frantically read plays and go to as many performances as I possibly can. For many years, I have been writing theatre reviews; I have been interviewing artists. In 2017 my play “Perasma” (The Passage) was awarded a Prize from the Greek Authors’ Association (ellineslogotexnes.gr). That award made me wonder what I wanted to do next. In 2018 KAPA Publishing House published my play –two more have followed since, “Playing with Alice” and “Homemade paradise”. In 2020 “Perasma” (The Passage) won the First Prize from the literary magazine Kefalos and was declared “Book-Play of the year 2018”.
What inspired you to write “PERASMA” (The Passage) and what is the story about?
Delina Vasiliadi: The play “PERASMA” or “Passage” is an existential drama, or, even better, an existential farce. Action takes place in a dirty, filthy apartment where everything is out of place. Open boxes, suitcases and bags are everywhere… It’s the apartment of the main character Peter, a bachelor, who is about to leave his place and move to a bigger and better –as he believes and mentions several times during the play- house! Peter is extremely busy packing and filling boxes with his belongings and his trappings. Books, clothes, cds… During this ordeal, Peter is not alone. His friend, Lazarus, has come to help. But Lazarus shows no interest in helping, packing or even keeping Peter some company. He sits on his rocking chair speechless almost all of the time, while Peter is constantly working and talking. Time is not on Peter’s side because very very soon the moving truck, that will curry everything to the new place, will come and, yet, there is too much left to do…
What came first, the plot or the characters?
Delina Vasiliadi: First I imagined a man who wanted to move, then a lot of baggage, a filthy room ready to be abandoned and finally the act of escaping from a place that was no longer needed or wanted.
What is the deeper main meaning of “PERASMA” and how relevant to these times do you think it is?
Delina Vasiliadi: As I mentioned before, the play “PERASMA” or “Passage” is an existential drama. Its main theme is the procedure that one has to go through in order to reach maturity. It’s the “passing” from childhood to adulthood, from immaturity to maturity, from pain and trauma to being healed. Of course, one can only walk this road if he/she is truly determined to do so and, inevitably, pay the price.
The major questions that are posed are these: Can a person look himself/herself in the mirror as he/she really is, free from all illusions? Or, even in the darkest, the final hour, these illusions are comforting and not worth overcoming and destroying?
These questions are not only universal but also relevant to any time.
The “Passage” is the “road” that man has to follow in order to achieve self awareness and, from a certain point of view, absolute freedom.
You write from the perspective of two characters. What are the challenges of writing from a multiple point of view?
Delina Vasiliadi: That is actually the objective. To pose questions and provide the perspective of more than one characters. Art’s purpose is not to give answers but provide questions. This is extremely challenging. And rewarding!
How was the experience of adapting your play for the radio?
Delina Vasiliadi: Adapting for the radio a full length play intended to be performed on stage… that was a very difficult challenge. There were three problems. The first was the length of the play, which had to be maximum 45 minutes, instead of two hours. Brave decisions had to be made. Some passages had to be omitted. Then, I had to consider the fact that since the audience wouldn’t be able to see the performance –obviously- but only hear it, everything had to be verbally expressed somehow. There was not the optical aspect of the theatre, the costumes, the props, the theatrical setting. The third problem was the most pressing one. In the original play a man, Peter, is the protagonist. The whole play revolves around him. Now, the text had to be rewritten from the very beginning and be based on a woman, since we wanted a female actress to play the leading part. That was extremely difficult. But I believe the result was extremely gratifying for us all.
For you, what makes a great story?
Delina Vasiliadi: Truth.
Thank you so much for this very interesting interview.