Art, identity, and 'in time': Meet Alkisti Pitsaki, Master of Theatre (Directing) graduate
After graduating with a BA in Theatre Arts, Greek student Alkistis (Alkisti) Pitsaki wanted to find a graduate course that would help her develop as a director and support her to write her own plays. During a trip to Melbourne, she attended an event at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and found what she was looking for: the Master of Theatre (Directing).
Now, having graduated in the era of border closures and event shutdowns, Alkisti talked to us about her time at the VCA, how her identity has shaped her work, and what it means to build a career in the arts.
One of the things I cherished most about my course was the interactions with my peers and other artists. When I came to Australia I only knew a few people – through VCA I've grown my network and met wonderful artists. From the acting students all the way to the faculty, every member of this school is willing to help, and thrilled to learn alongside you.
There are several opportunities for collaboration, especially between the directors, writers and dramaturgs, as well as through placements. In time, you find like-minded creatives that want to produce the type of work you like and you form little teams, which is great.
What I think makes this course unique is that it is shaped according to each student. The emphasis is on the student, so whether you like to write and direct, or work on classics or even opera, your mentors and supervisors will be specifically chosen for you and your development.
Bringing your own identity into your work is challenging, confronting, but also beautiful. There are so many things that inspire my practice, from friends and family to conversations on the tram and the history of spaces. As I have been so far from my home, I feel that inevitably my work is inspired by Greece and Athens – the notions of identity and ethnicity, distance, water, and miles.
For my graduating piece, Αριάδνη/Ariadne, I chose to write and direct an audio play in both Greek and English. Like my main character, I felt that sometimes one's second language is not enough to express your feelings and deeper thoughts.
Αριάδνη/Ariadne was a rework of the ancient myth of Ariadne of Crete. I felt that Ariadne never got a chance to tell us what happened according to her. Through this bilingual play the audience was immersed into Ariadne’s thoughts and feelings and finally heard her story. The option to move to the digital sphere by directing an audio play was, of course, a response to the times, but it also allowed for a larger audience reach. It was truly inspiring to receive messages from people in other parts of the world.
A promotional image for Αριάδνη/Ariadne.
(Image credits – Photography: Katerina Triantafillou; Editing: Anais Pitsaki)
My most memorable experience during my degree was my directing internship at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Australia). I learned so much from the Australian Associate Director Naomi Edwards and the entire team. This was one of the best experiences of my life and something that I couldn’t have done back home. It was truly inspiring to witness how this massive team of artists came together to literally create magic on stage. The emphasis on detail and the dedication of the team are values that I have taken with me in my practice.
In times of uncertainty and doubt during the early stages of creation, I like to remind myself that I need to trust the process. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to make a work, as long as it will happen in time. The phrase 'in time' in Greek is 'εν καιρώ' ('en kero') and it allows me to cherish the moments of uncertainty as part of a process.
With every project there is always some type of job that can come up, and I think that is the beauty of the field. I have worked as an actor, director, stage manager, costume finder, budget handler, make-up artist (that went beautifully) – the list can keep going on. As a director I have learned that adapting is always the key.
A career in the arts is a beautiful thing. It all starts with an idea and inspiration. Every day is different. There are challenges, but you learn from them – and there are beautiful days that just remind you of why you chose this path. Trust your instincts and your feelings. Life is too short for a career in business.