Playwright profiles: Anthoula Katsimatides

19 Oct

BTSblog presents you the playwrights of the first Between the Seas staged readings event.

Writing ‘Ham-n-Eggs & Purple Golashes’ (HEPG)

I am a Greek-American, born and raised in the ghetto of Astoria, Queens in NY. I mean no disrespect when I say ghetto. Astoria was a ghetto when I was growing up because my family lived among and
socialized with Greek people. My parents were immigrants who struggled their whole lives to raise their children in a foreign country while maintaining their ethnicity, culture and religion. They succeeded but unfortunately it did result in a bit of an identity crisis for me, their only daughter of four children. My piece was born out of this inner conflict between my Mediterranean and NY identities when I hit my thirties. I felt and continue to feel as though I spread the vibrancy of the Mediterranean culture by just being me. It can be liberating to embody this special, gorgeous “Greekness” but sometimes it is the very thing that I rail against because I feel like it has kept me captive instead.
Growing up sheltered in Astoria by the Greek mantra “what will people say” truly imprisoned me in one world…in one self….and I did not know it on the surface but deep down I kept trying to escape….trying to find myself and only when I was confronted with two personal tragedies did I start to really open up and broaden my horizons and widen my world….and get stronger….and more independent. Although the conflict still looms within.

How did you get into playwriting and what is the type of theater you are interested in?

It was quite liberating when I finally decided to become an actor three years ago at 35 years old after following a pattern of what I “should” be vs pursuing my passion. I found myself sharing my story with others and thought to create a solo performance piece that talked about growing up imprisoned in my culture and not even knowing it. At the same time, I wanted to talk about how grateful I am for that upbringing. HEPG is a wonderful compilation of short stories weaved together with love, humor, conflict, tragedy and brutal honesty. Technically, I don’t think of myself as a playwright (although perhaps now I am). I feel more like a storyteller. This is the first time I have written anything down and I am thrilled to be sharing my work for the first time in the “Between The Seas” festival.

I love theatre that is humble and relatable to the masses. This is what I hope to emulate.
The general messages of my piece that I want to communicate are that of conflict, hope, living freely and the importance of laughing out loud. I want to share my life with the audience and take them on my journey (my journey to Ithaca) which is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge, but also full of heartache….in the hopes of having even one person in the audience relate and walk away not feeling alone in the world.

What does the Mediterranean mean to you?

The Mediterranean to me is all about one island in Greece called Nisyros. The very small, simple, charming place of my parents’ birth. Currently still untainted by strong tourism, Nisyros is a volcanic island with a special heartbeat of its own. Each time I visit, and as soon as I catch my first glimpse of the island from the boat I am traveling on, I can feel my heart begin to synchronize with the pulse of the sea and ultimately with the island itself. Its a magical place.

Anthoula’s play HAM-N-EGGS AND PURPLE GOLASHES will be featured in the Between the Seas staged readings, on TUESDAY October 19th, 6-7 pm at Solas Bar [232 East 9th str.]

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