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Sofokleous “Life is more healthy with art in it”


Theatre player Valentina Sofokleous says, art creates a base for people to feel life and new stories cannot be understood without art.

She talked about her recent success stories in theatre scene, her bi-communal and international projects, as well as what is coming up soon for her Cypriot audience on stage in an exclusive interview with Voice Cyprus News.

How did your journey begin as an actor?

SOFOKLEOUS: During my childhood, my parents picked up on my talent. They recognised I had it in me to perform and portray characters. They insisted that I would pursue acting. As any child does, I had many ideas on having various professions; such as becoming a lawyer, or a painter yet they were adamant in what they saw in me. They believed I would be an actor, and in time so did I. And I am here now.

Could you tell us about the Triumph of Theatre (ROI)?

SOFOKLEOUS : I am the director of ROI, but truly ROI is a child of mine. I have come a long way in my life and career to see ROI come into existence. Our performances mostly carry social messages. That is what we strive to do. It is not easy to be an artist in Cyprus. To express oneself freely, and have it on stage does not come easy. But if you have something to say, you need to insist, you need to be resilient and committed to your art. Art creates a base for people to feel life. Art touches your heart, you experience life through the aesthetic created in art. To find some meaning into your life, you need to gain fresh perspectives, build empathy, and learn about a new story. You cannot understand new stories, different stories, without art. Can you imagine a life without music? Life without cinema? Theatre? Art changes the food you need to survive into a delicious experience that you form memories with. Briefly put, we can say life is more healthy with art in it.

Congratulations to ROI at the International Theatre Festival in Istanbul! Could you share the details of the play and your new projects?

SOFOKLEOUS: ROI invited Derman Atik to direct ‘Haydi Canım’ written by Aziz Nesin. We worked on it together here last Summer and we were ready to participate in the International Theatre Festival in Istanbul by October. It was truly an honour to be invited to the festival and to receive an award. When we returned from Istanbul, we premiered in Nicosia, at Nicosia Theatre Festival and brought the performance to our audience here in Cyprus. We are now working on a new performance with Derman Atik. Cenk Gürçağ and I will take the stage to perform The River written by Andreas Nicolaides. This is my first performance with Cenk Gürçağ. Following the Festival in Istanbul we received an invitation to the International Theatre Festival in Portugal. The River will premiere at the International Theatre Festival in Portugal on July 20th. It is an honour to receive invitations and gain International recognition as ROI. The play itself is in three languages; Greek, Turkish and English. During the festival there will also be subtitles in Portuguese. I am thrilled to have this opportunity to take stage elsewhere with a Cypriot play by Cypriot artists.

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You are involved in some invaluable bi-communal projects in the theatre scene. Could you tell us how you began working with Turkish Cypriot artists and the importance this has for you?

SOFOKLEOUS: I was the president of a civil initiative for the opening of Ledra / Lokmacı Street. Ledras is not only the main street of Nicosia, it is the main street of the island. My Turkish Cypriot friends and us believed strongly that Ledras street had to be open for all Cypriots, it was a movement for the Cypriots’ right to movement in their own island. That marked the first joint effort I had with the Turkish Cypriot community. The Cyprus problem we have here on our beloved island is one that has a great magnitude, impacting a lot of various areas in the lives of us Cypriots. My wish is to have a resolution, an end to the problem so that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots can work together, raise their children together again. We have to work together in order to exist on this island together. This is the reason I seek out every chance there is to do a collaboration. Acting is my work, it is my job. If I can use acting to create a tiny influence towards a solution and a capacity to show we can work together, I will. I strongly believe in the impact of collaborations in the art scene. We have a goal to solve our problem. We cannot tell stories of unification and one island on separate stages, we have to collaborate. The artists, we need to convey that message to all Cypriots. It may be hard but if you believe in it, it will happen. It brings me happiness to see younger generations are already working and doing projects together. I get to meet a lot of young adults who understand regardless of what language we speak, we are all Cypriots.

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What is on your calendar? Where can we see you on stage?

SOFOKLEOUS :,I will be in Athens, Greece for the performance of Maria Callas written by Andreas Nikolaides. It brought me immense joy to see tickets sell out so quickly and receive such attention. We are then moving to Portugal for The River also written by Andreas Nicolaides for the Festival. When we return to Cyprus we will have The River at theatres here in Cyprus. I am looking forward to performing for the audience in Cyprus with The River especially since it is going to be in three languages. A person may not necessarily need to know or understand the other languages, but the beauty of the play lies in there… Cypriots are able to understand each other. Cenk and I will be speaking to each other with different languages and the audience will be able to understand us despite the language barrier.

Your Maria Callas performance received very positive remarks since its premiere back in 2022 as well. How did you prepare for that role?

SOFOKLEOUS : It is difficult to play a role that is of a real person, who had lived in a real period in time under, with such a strong personality. It is a story of a very poor girl who became a world-renowned artist. There is no room to explore different approaches to represent this character in its true-form. In order to prepare for a role as such, you need to meet the person, if not in person, in their essence, in their World of their time. It was truly a challenge, and a hard one, but I wanted to take it on. I wanted to portray her. I had been told in the past that I look like her. Maybe these were just comments on having  physical similarities naturally as we are both Mediterranean but just as everyone saw Maria Callas in me, I also wanted to perform her on stage.

Voice Cyprus News 2024

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