August Artist Feature – Aris Athanasopoulos

Aris is a graduate of York University’s acting conservatory (BFA – honours). He has been working with Shakespeare in Action for eight years, leading sessions at their Toronto public library programs over that time. This is his second consecutive year directing the summer camp program. He is incredibly excited to be working with everyone again. Select professional theatre credits include: The Railway Children (Damien Cruden – Mirvish/Marquis Entertainment), Theatre of the Film Noir (Mirek Polatynski – Atlas Stage Productions Canada), New Jerusalem (Mitchell Cushman – Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company), and Finer Noble Gasses (Kevin Jake Walker – SummerWorks).

 

1. How did you get into the performing arts? 

I was attracted to theatre and performance at a very early age, but it wasn’t something I actually did until high school. I was way too shy and quiet to participate before then. My first encounter with the performing arts was filled with envy and regret. My elementary school put on a production of The Gingerbread Man for the Christmas concert when I was in 3rd grade (my memory says 3rd grade, it could’ve been earlier). I was too afraid to audition for the show, so I didn’t. My best friend got the part of the lead, the Gingerbread Man, and was excellent in it (we’re still best friends, but he’s not an actor). I vowed that I’d never miss an opportunity like that again. I had to wait eight years, because the next one came in grade 11.

2. What is your biggest pop culture guilty pleasure?

So You Think You Can Dance – when I had cable, I watched it religiously.

3. Who are your favourite playwrights other than Shakespeare?

John Patrick Shanley, John Logan, Edward Albee

4. What do you do when you’re not acting?

When I’m not acting, I’m writing screenplays and directing short films, with the hope that I can direct a feature sometime in the near future (and hopefully many more features after that). I play softball, soccer, golf, and I watch all sports obsessively. Especially the English Premier League. I’m a Liverpool supporter #You’llNeverWalkAlone.

5. What is your favourite Shakespearean quotation/line?

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side; His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

 6. What was your favourite moment working with youth?

Directing the summer camp show last year. Over the entire two-week process I got to witness such wonderful growth in all sixteen of the participants. It had a profound effect on me and it’s the reason why I came back again this year. Their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the best version I’ve ever seen. Not because I directed it, but because each participant put every bit of themselves into it and performed it so beautifully. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

 

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