An Interview by Tim Cordell, May 28, 2020

Chrysi Sylaidi is an internationally famous Greek actress currently living in New York City. She has performed several leading roles in various off-broadway shows which garnered outstanding reviews and press. Chrysi shares her vision and talents, as a producer and director through her international New York City based theatre company, TeamTheatre. Through TeamTheatre, she has been creating theatre for artists in New York and around the world. Her numerous productions have gained great acclaim and awards globally. 

Tim:

How is the Theatre world doing in NYC at the moment?

Chrysi:

Well the theaters are closed and we don’t know when they will reopen. There is the option for reopening maybe at a smaller capacity as a first step but we are waiting for an official announcement.

Tim:

But you just said you have a dozen projects. Can you tell us more about those projects?

Chrysi:

Well, when the pandemic first started it was a shock to me as it was to all of us. Of course, I knew from friends in Italy and China that the situation was extreme but deep down I kind of hoped that it wouldn’t get as dramatic here. I was wrong. NYC has the ideal circumstances for this virus to spread. And so it did. When they first announced that we should stay home and work from there, I was still in the middle of rehearsals for the production of Rumors, by Neil Simon at Stella Adler and we also had just started producing our next performance piece called Frames with my Theatre company. All that was put on hold. I will always remember our first online rehearsal for Rumors. Everyone’s question was, now what? Not long after, we still decided to proceed with the show and performed it online. It was one of the best experiences. The audience and the artists were really craving for inspiration, good entertainment, good acting and the joy that you can only get when a good story is told!

Tim:

So even with the pandemic, the show must go on?

Chrysi:

Exactly! The show must go on. And it will. In my opinion Theatre was, is and will continue to be, for as long as there are humans, an essential need for all of us. It can not be replaced. That is why it has been around for thousands of years. But for now we will explore the possibilities from the other mediums we have in our possession.

Tim:

So what kind of projects are you working on right now while we are going through this Global pandemic?

Chrysi:

Oh my! So many things! I truly went through a moment where I paused for a bit like most of us. I needed to take a breath and listen to what is happening around me and how that is affecting my life and all humanity. And then after some time, the need for art, for creation, for inspiration, for love and for connection kicked in and it hasn’t stopped since. Art is definitely one of the necessities that is helping us go through this.
For example, I am part of an amazing project with a fantastic Theatre Company here in NYC, the Eclipses Group Theatre. The project is called Shelter in Love and is featuring artists from all around the world. It is a creative conversation where we examine, each one of us with their own artistic background, the importance of love in our lives, especially right now. The protection and power that love offers us is a universal need. Love is the only unbreakable shelter. This is a project that will be performed online and then later in time in different venues here in NYC, different countries in Europe and definitely in my home country, Greece. In it, I am acting, directing and writing. I actually just finished the production of a short film called “The Healing of Time” which I am super excited about!

Moment from the Short Film- “The Healing of Time” written, directed and produced by
Chrysi Sylaidi for the project: “Shelter in Love” by Eclipses Group Theatre NY.

Tim:

That sounds amazing! All of us have been craving the safety and the healing of love these days. I also learned that they are honoring you and your work in the Boundless International Theatre Festival based in NYC this June. Could you tell us a little bit more about that as well?

Chrysi:

Yes! This festival is honoring international theatre artists with extraordinary abilities and presence from all over the world. I am very honored that they asked me to be part of their great list of performers.
In this festival I will be acting in a documentary, directing and acting in 2 performance pieces and finally I will be DJ-ing! And all this is gonna happen Online!

Our goal is to raise awareness of the amazing artists that live and work as citizens of the world. Most of us are based in the US at the moment but we have all lived and created in other countries. They are also featuring artists from outside the US.

Tim:

That’s wonderful and I cannot wait to see you perform in this festival. Now, can you tell us a few words about the TeamTheatre?

Chrysi:

Well TeamTheatre is my favorite topic, I can tell you many words about it! (Laughs) No, seriously I am obsessed with it! 

TeamTheatre is a Theatre company that I co-founded and that I am a board member of. We are a collection of multinational artists committed to fostering and creating living art for New York City and places around the globe. We have been active non-stop for the past year and a half with 3 productions, 1 festival of 12 original plays, multiple activities to serve diverse and under-represented communities in NYC, and we have led the renovation of the Greek Cultural Center in Astoria where we now have a residency. And this is only the beginning.

Right now we are offering a support group for all artists who need help in developing their work or they are looking for community and inspiration. We are also having workshops for playwrights and their original work where we cast their plays, workshop them and give them feedback.

The idea is that some of those scripts will be fully produced either online or live when the city opens up.
Last but not least, we are currently producing a Web series that will be launched by the end of the month. See? I told you! I am obsessed with it. (Laughs)

Tim:

Can you talk more about the web series?

Chrysi:

Yes. This web series is called Lockdown Diaries. It is a collection of stories about the experiences of different people during lockdown. It focuses on the human psyche and how we cope in challenging circumstances. I will be acting and directing in it. Maybe I will be doing some writing as well. We’ll see.

Tim:

That’s very exciting! Now I think it would be great if you could let our readers learn more about TeamTheatre’s production of Golden Girl By The Sea? I’ve seen and heard so much about it!

Chrysi:

Well, Golden Girl by the Sea was a very personal show. My wonderful friend and collaborator Dorothea Gloria wrote it and we performed it at the Greek Cultural Center in NYC.
Dorothea managed to create a truly sweet and witty play. The lead character was based on me and the setting was in Ancient Greece. Just so you can form a clearer picture: There were Greek Gods all over the stage. (Laughs) My character had to fight her way through trials in order to find true love. At the end she realized that the person she was actually looking for all along was her own self. The result was heartfelt and hilarious at the same time. As a person I have been struggling a lot with identity matters and that is not always an easy ride for someone that used to think they knew who they were as a person. You have to understand, like most us, I wanted to be liked and accepted by most people and my family. This play addressed that side of my life. It was a very strong and emotional experience for everyone involved in this production but also for our audiences. We were sold out in all the shows. I guess the message of self-love and psychological healing is something that really resonates with people, especially during our current situation.

Tim:

I’ve seen the video of the production and I have to say, you did a fantastic job with your performance in the play. I was crying like a baby!

Chrysi:

Oh my! Thank you. I am not good with compliments! It wasn’t an easy show because it was so personal. I am really glad you enjoyed it.

Golden Girl By The Sea
Photo by Serafeim Sakellariou

Tim:

What about Greece? Do you have plans of returning?

Chrysi:

Well, Greece is my first home and will always be with me! My goal is to bring more work there as well. I want to collaborate and support the amazing artists that we have in my country, especially right now. I also want to spend more time with my family and friends who live there. I miss them. However, NYC is my second home that I have grown to love so much and is my base for the moment.

Tim:

Again, Thank you so much for your time Chrysi. It was such a joy talking to you and I can’t wait for our next conversation! Keep up the amazing work! I have to say, I’m a big fan.

Chrysi:

Thank you so much! It was so nice spending my afternoon with you! Stay safe and stay creative!

This article is an excerpt from the interview.