Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike greek television?
I mean american and australian soaps are bad enough, but the greek ones I’ve seen make me long for an episode of The Bold and The Beautiful (and that’s saying a lot!)
Maybe its the influence of the old greek tragedies, the epic dramas of mythology… but it seems that greeks have taken over-acting to a high art.
There’s nothing at all natural about acting in greek soaps or series I’ve caught bits of since being here. In fact, you really don’t need to understand the language to understand what’s going on. You can read it clearly in the huge gestures, exaggerated facial expressions and anything but subtle tones.
I know greeks are known for their hand gestures and heated conversations. At family get togethers everyone will be yelling, waving and gesturing to eachother. That’s normal. Its just a friendly conversation. If you saw a group of greeks ordering food at a restaurant and didn’t understand the language, you’d be excused for thinking the knives will come out any minute.
You’ll know when its not just a friendly chat – it usually involves flying frying pans.
Years ago when I lived in Greece I had an opportunity to work in the theatre. A young actor found a play he liked written by an american playwrite, brought him out to direct the play and he produced it himself. (Or rather his parents did.) I got the job as director’s assistant and translator.
It was a great job!
However… the acting… ugh. It was all the playwrite/director could do to tone them down, to try to get them acting normally. You know – the way you talk at home, not on vaudeville. It was a serious play, not slapstick.
We worked together on sound effects, stage sets, and reining in the wild expressions and dramatic gestures. Once the play opened our job was done and we both left.
I bet it was less than a week before the acting reverted to Benny Hill acting standard.
To be honest I can’t remember if there are any greek movies I’ve seen where the acting is more plausible… Its almost like you go for an interview and the casting director asks, “Can you make a mountain out of a molehill? Good! You’re hired.”
When I was a kid I loved greek comedies cause they really were funny, but I hated that every greek film had to have some musical number in it. Or three. It was like the law.
Someone was happy so they’d break into song and the whole town would start dancing around them.
Just like in real life.
Someone would have lost the love of his life so he’d go to a taverna to drown his sorrows and there’d always be a band with a singer singing the greek equivalent of the country song …my wife left me, my dog ran away, the truck broke… and greek men dancing ‘zeibekiko’*.
Not to mention the countless dream sequences – a woman in love dancing with her dream man among stars, or lying on a bed with willowy billowing curtains with cupids dancing around her…
Even watching the greek news is like watching a greek tragedy. I glimpsed one of those current affairs programs one night where they’d quartered the tv screen and had a panel of 4 discussing and issue.
It was like a catfight.
Maybe its cause greeks are hot blooded and have loud opinions they’re more than willing to share. Just ask Wayne. I’m sure he’d agree with that.
*Zeibekiko – A traditional greek dance for men, danced to the rebetiko, the blues equivalent in greek. Although now women also dance it, in the past it was a dance only for men. There seem to be no set steps, it always looks like its a means of self expression – a way to express sadness, loss or drunkeness.