Τετάρτη, 31 Ιουλίου 2013

Η συνέντευξη του Χάρη Αττώνη στη National Herald - "Greek Artists, Musicians, Dream On"

Haris Attonis has artistic satisfaction as a Greek actor, but little money indeed.
ATHENS – Although Greek films are enjoying newfound acclaim as producers and directors struggle to find funding in a crushing economic crisis, the life of an actor – as for musicians – is a tough one indeed these days.
Some 95 percent of actors are out of work and musicians have to pay for their own productions. Many travel to islands or places distant from Athens to perform, only to be told not enough money was taken in to pay them and some wait for years to be paid for state shows.
As conditions are chaotic, many artists decide whether to fund their projects or at the same time, do something else as a main profession.
Haris Attonis, actor and founder of the nonprofit corporation Degreezero, from the early stages of studies in England and then in Greece, found work. But with the passing of the years, from job to job, he was finding that the financial part was becoming less important.
The competition is huge; he has heard several employers tell him “If you don’t accept to work without money, there are hundreds after you who are willing to do, even for the experience.” And as the actors proliferate, demand diminished. “So getting together in groups and doing independent jobs was the only way” he says.
Georgina Konsta, an actress, said she has realized that “It’s difficult to have job exclusively and always in theater. It’s not made to work a few months to live the rest of the year. The obligations, expenses, needs can’t be covered,” she says.
So, she works at Pierce College, the American College of Greece, as a theater teacher in Summer Camp and in the winter in Theatrical Improvisation Club.
Konsta also participates in independent theater performances with small groups and she has starred in three short films in the last year, has directed three and has done the narration in two. This year, she’s starring with six others actors at Of Course Dreaming, a play based on Kiki Dimoula’s poetry.
Attonis is involved with the family business which began with his grandfather. “It’s something that I denied at the outset to do things which I was interested in,” he explained.
The last years, he makes a living exclusively from there – having set up an e-shop and taking over the management of online sales, something that he had never imagined that he would do because his “involvement with the theater was always full-time.”
However, in 2010, he founded the non-profit organization Degreezero with some of his old classmates from the drama school. He said this was the only way to feel free to express what he wants and develop through theatre – there was no financial gain, only moral satisfaction. His last performance at the monologue I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright made him proud and received excellent reviews.
Both tried to make a career in theater, but said soon they understood that it was costly. “Trying to make a living through theater requires giving yourself completely at the cost of personal life. It becomes your main priority,” Konsta said.
“For many years, I think that I was lucky,” Attoni said. “Maybe, I didn’t make works that brought me fame or money, but I’m proud of all. From the time that I have been studying, I was working in dance theatre or theatrical groups, some were requiring hours of rehearsals, others had performances late at night, others were in tour. When these are not paid, this is a big blow.”
Most actors, if they haven’t resources or income from their family, work at various jobs, whether they are dealing with their art or not, even toiling in a bar.
Thanasis Christodoulou, known as Lumiere Brother, is a singer and composer who a few months ago released his second indie-pop album titled Twenty One.
But to get by, he also works at a company that manufactures remote monitoring systems for renewable energy units and telecommunications antennas.
He said realized that he couldn’t deal professionally exclusively with music since he was student “watching that the music started and become something independent of the purely commercial part after it had begun the free movement through Internet.”
This wasn’t disappointing because, he said, “I always like to deal with my other great love, Physics.”
The main difficulty he said he faced is writing music “which in Greece has very small audience and thus this music can’t cover the financial part.”
Nikos Papadimitriou, the singer of alternative pop-rock band MENTA feels the same. “There isn’t a large audience for bands like ours in Greece. However, we try to create what we have in our minds every time, hoping that a little bit, along with discography, it will grow and our audience.”
He works as a medical visitor and the members of the band have funded some of their albums. “It’s our choice” he said. “The reason is that we don’t want to negotiate with anyone the artistic content of our work. We pay for everything. Usually, we exceed the budget, but not at the level that we can’t cover the extra cost.”
Certainly, there are difficulties that complicate the process. “First of all, you have the costs of recording and mastering, cover art and the cost of the same instrument, whether it’s cd, or vinyl. After that, many things can go beyond the original timetable and you should correspond by mail with people abroad, trying to explain your problem,” he said, noting the production process for their latest album under the band’s name, MENTA.
George Piaditis, one of the members of rock band No Sequence (which released their first album Levitation this year) works as a court clerk and said he doesn’t want to be an entertainer, “but to have identity as a musician/band, playing my own music and not simply to keep a various program at some clubs for a season.”
He got a taste of that as “We have had many nights run live and acoustic set in the same clubs, I didn’t like it. I wanted my composure.” It doesn’t mean that he won’t try more in the future, but only under certain conditions where he said he will feel more free and creative.
Christodoulou added: “I haven’t attempted to try making a living from music, because I simply know the limits in Greece.” He said he gets frustrated only when he realizes that the music that he loves doesn't mean much for some people around him with many young Greeks preferring pop and so-called “dog music,” because of the way it sounds, a genre many serious musicians disdain.
However, if he deals with a music kind that has bigger audience, “Maybe I’ll try” he said. The artists said they want to be creative. Why?
For Christodoulou it’s his love for creativity and imagination. It’s more relaxing and creative, because “There is no pressure for any other reason beyond music expression.”
Papadimitriou said, “I have invested time, effort, dreams and ideas. From first to last, it deserved everything.”
Konsta said she doesn’t give up because of “the love of audience and the response to any attempt, the truth in their eyes, their warm applause. I look at my team and I say we did it all together.”
Attonis said there’s a simpler reason. “It has already been decided for you.” Even, in the Greece of crisis. - Panayota Kontodema - TNH Correspondent

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