On a Mission to find ‘Roberto’

Eléna Koutoulidis-Carrel, a French theatre artiste tells Tanya Munshi that she wants to cast a Keralite as the main character in her play.

Meet Eléna Koutoulidis-Carrel, who has come to India on a mission. A mission to find Roberto Zucco, in our very own city of Kochi, and who do you think he might be? Well, we’ll keep that suspense for a little longer. For now, let’s get to know Eléna a little better.

Right after completing her Masters in International Economics, Eléna joined The School of Theatre Florent in Paris. By the age of 25, she earned herself a Degree in Theatre Studies and Post Graduation in Cultural Management at the University of Paris. From then on she has never looked back and today at 35, she is an actress with a difference. She has made her own niche by specialising in puppetry, clown acting and recently stepped into direction.

Kathakali training
A mother of a two-year old and the wife of a filmmaker, Eléna trained in Kathakali almost five years ago at the Kathakali Centre in Fort Kochi. She also learnt No, a dance style from Japan, puppetry in Paris and conducts drama workshops for teenagers in schools. January 2006 brought Eléna and her family to India, where they first set base in Thiruvananthpuram, working with at the French Cultural Centre and now, currently in Kochi, she is involved in a variety of artistic projects.

She’s been closely associated with the School of Drama in Thrissur and the Theatre Department of Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, where she had been conducting acting lessons on a once-a-week basis. As of now, she is completely focused on her mission— to find Roberto Zucco. She has held auditions in places like Ernakulam, and Pondicherry, Trichur and University of Calicut.

So who is Roberto Zucco? Inspired by the real life serial killer Roberto Zucco, he is the protagonist as well as the name of the play of the late Bernard Marie Koltès, an acclaimed playwright and director in France.

“Roberto is an anti-hero with a criminal mind, but he’s so charismatic that women can’t help but fall in love with him. Roberto, a lethal combination of psychology and intellect, comprises the persona I need who can do justice to this profile,” says Eléna.

Although this play was written in 1988, it is actually based in the 1960s, in Venice, Italy where Zucco was born.

“I want to recreate this story which took birth almost 30 years ago, and adapt this to the Indian audience because the social setting in Italy in the 1960s is what Kerala is today”, she says and further adds, “the very essence of relationships such as brother-sister, family, or even the sanctity of marriage is still intact here, which is the perfect setting for my play.” That’s primarily one of the main reasons she didn’t think of any other city other than Kochi, as it is the perfect blend of big city and small town, and this is where Roberto will be found.

On asking how she intends going about the play, she answers, “Initially I thought of the play in Malayalam, but since I have plans on taking the play around the world, I thought it would best suit in English to appeal to a wider audience.”

Valuable experience
Coming to directing theatre workshops in schools, Eléna shared some of her valuable experiences and knowledge on theatre and dramatics with students. With the support and encouragement of the French department in Cochin College she conducted a one-day workshop there last week.

Though her workshop was just an iota of what theatre is all about, she had covered the essential elements in it, that is— confidence, courage, good posture, feeling free, energy, concentration, imagery, lucidity, all that help to awaken one’s mind and body.

“This is a vast spectrum, but I have tried to incorporate the main elements of theatre into this one day workshop. Imagination and creativity is necessary for actors and non-actors. These are not only important in theatre, but one can apply these in their everyday life as well”, Eléna says.

She said, “While it is important to act, it is more important to be yourself. What we need is natural actions and no over reactions, no underplaying and no overplaying.”

Published in The Hindu – Metro Plus Kochi, 7th December, 2006.

One thought on “On a Mission to find ‘Roberto’

  • July 26, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Excellent personality….wish her best to make her mission and vision possible


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