Imagine spending a good portion of your life doing what was expected of you, instead of fulfilling your own needs and desires. That’s the very position writer and performer Koraly Dimitriadis found herself in. But the Cypriot Australian has declared that she will be silenced no more − the only issue is that it doesn’t always come out right.
Following on from her sell-out La Mama exploration Good Greek Girl, Dimitriadis is set to make her theatre debut this month with her one-woman poetic play KORALY: ‘I say the wrong things all the time’.
And her efforts in getting it to the stage have been admirable. Proactive from the get-go, she ran her own fundraising initiative earlier this year with the screening of A Mockumentary: ‘I wonder if they’ll make a TV show’, and with the help of her fans, is happy to say she’ll be sharing her work with an even larger audience.
The production is one close to her heart and through it she hopes to communicate her experiences and connect with others, namely women, and that they will finally see a part of their own narrative represented on the stage.
“Ultimately with this piece of work I really want to show people the expectations that are placed on us by society and culture, and how that struggle of being yourself and being who you want to be, is a difficult one and there are costs and prices to be paid, but ultimately, it’s your life,” she tells Neos Kosmos.
“It would be really great to get the Greek community coming along and supporting the project because we don’t really see a lot of voices in theatre in Australia from migrant backgrounds or Greek backgrounds, especially from women.”
By being courageous and debunking the status quo, Dimitriadis is looking to inspire others to embrace their life and accept not only themselves, but their families and culture, one she has dubbed a “love-hate relationship”.
Known for her provocative poetry performances, both Down Under and abroad, one of her biggest challenges was finding a director that would allow her to be true to herself. That was until she met Olga Aristodemou.
Based in Cyprus, the pair met through a mutual friend almost two years ago, which saw Aristodemou make a trip out to Australia earlier this year to start work on the production.
“We had a few sessions last April and then I came back a couple of weeks ago to begin rehearsals,” the director says.
While she admits that it’s the first time she has worked on such a project that challenges the traditional concept of theatre and deals with current themes such as feminism and culture pressures, she says she’s very grateful for the opportunity.
“Coming from Cyprus, I’ve never had to consider these things; I didn’t know about migrant backgrounds, I didn’t know about cultural pressures. So understanding and recognising that these issues do exist, that there’s a lot of sub groups in society that face these pressures, it’s really important to get this message out,” Aristodemou explains.
“It’s a really amazing opportunity for me; it really opened my eyes and I realised I can play a part in voicing this message.”
But she’s not the only one who’s thankful. Having struggled with the pressures that came with her cultural background, working with a director of Cypriot background appears to be a part of the reconciliation process for Dimitriadis; a chance to marry her cultural identity and the other facets of her life.
“It means a lot to me [to work with Olga]. She’s also been able to give me an international perspective on my work and it’s made me realise that the messages that I’m trying to give are applicable not only in Australia, but all over the world,” says Dimitriadis.
“They’re about the pressures on women, and some of those pressures are felt by women in Cyprus and different parts of the world. It’s really given me a fresh perspective and I’m so grateful and excited to be working with her.”
If the production goes as well as anticipated, following in the footsteps of her best-selling book of poetry Love and Fuck Poems, the writer hopes to take it abroad.
“I’ve just come back from a European tour where I launched the Greek and English editions of my work for Europe, and there was so much interest for the theatre show in London and in Cyprus.
“The messages that I’m trying to say aren’t just about being a wog in Australia; they’re universal.”
KORALY: ‘I say the wrong things all the time’ will be staged from November 30-December 11 at La Mama Courthouse. Sexual references, recommended for 18 years and over. Tickets are $25 full and $15 concession. To purchase tickets, visit www.lamama.com.au/2016-spring-program/koraly and follow the links or call (03) 9347 6142.