“The Lady of Ro”
by Gianni Skaragas
Starring: Fotini Baxevani
*with English subtitles
A stirring, lyrical story about things that touch and test our human core, The Lady of Ro captures the essence of life that, in its very unfolding, seems to be slipping away before our grasp. It is about what happens to the dreams we hold close during war time, the ties that bind daughters and mothers, husbands and wives, folk legends and madwomen to one another and to the places they call home. And how every story—of love or mourning—is about fighting our way through history and back into what makes us human.
The Lady of Ro invites us into the ascetic world of a woman who lives alone on a small island questioning the values she once held true. Through heartbreak, grief and courage, she becomes one of her country’s best-loved icons. The story is inspired by the life of Despina Achladioti, the Greek widow known as the Lady of Ro, after the deserted island where she took refuge during the two world wars.
For Despina opening her eyes to how the world is changing meant being an outlier. She was born on the island of Kastellorizo, but sailed with her husband to the nearby deserted island of Ro, a stone’s throw from Turkey’s southern coastline. Despina watched from her island as Kastellorizo was invaded by Italians, bombed by Germans and all the island’s residents were evacuated from their homes by British forces to then Palestine and Egypt.
Achladioti’s fame rests on her persistence, from the time she arrived on the island until her death on May 13, 1982 at the age of 92, to raise the Greek flag. When Greece and Turkey went to war over Cyprus in the mid-1970s, the Lady of Ro became a hero and folk legend. The Lady of Ro celebrates the will to survive in the most desperate of circumstances, weaving together a stunning mosaic of human experience and dramatic scenes from Greek history during the first half of the 20th century. Her version of Greece is infused by a powerful understanding of human beings and touched with the fierce beauty of the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.
The Lady of Ro will break and mend your heart.
FOTINI BAXEVANI (Actor)
Fotini Baxevani was born in Athens, Greece. She is a graduate of the Greek Νational School of Dramatic Art (GNT Drama School) and a graduate of the National School of Music with a BA in music and composition. She is currently an MA student of the School of Film Studies (Fine Arts of the Aristotle University). Since 1992, she has appeared in more than 60 theatre productions in Greece and abroad, and starred in TV series and films. She also works as a theatre director and a film-theatre music composer. From 2010 she is teaching acting in drama schools. In 2009 she directed the play “Prime Numbers” by Giannis Skaragas at the N.Y. Greek Cultural Center (New York Innovative Theatre Awards). Baxevani has served as the Deputy Artistic Director at the National Theatre of Greece (2013-14) and has received the Greek Critics Union award for her performance in 2012 (Loxandra, National Theatre of Northern Greece) and honorary distinction for an actress in a leading role for her performance in the film «Ourania» by Despoina Kourti (40th Greek Short Film Festival in Drama 2017).
GIANNI SKARAGAS (Writer)
Gianni Skaragas is a novelist, screenwriter and playwright. He holds a BA in theatre studies and performing arts from the National Theatre of Greece School of Drama, and studied at the Aristotle University of Law. He writes in both English and Greek. He is the author of seven books in Greece. His work has been anthologized in Switzerland and the United States. He has written eight stage plays, two sitcoms and three drama series. His English short fiction has appeared in Copper Nickel (University of Colorado), World Literature Today (University of Oklahoma), American Chordata, The Tower Journal, Crannóg, Iowa City Press Citizen, Spilled Milk, Midnight Circus, and elsewhere. His stage play “Prime Numbers” was selected to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Greek Cultural Center of New York and premiered off-Broadway in February 2009. His short fiction, The History of Grains, was adapted for theatre in Zurich and was performed at the Keller 62 Theatre in December 2017. He is a Fulbright Fellow and member of the Association of European Journalists. He’s been a keynote speaker at major European Union conferences, and has held various fellowships and grants in the United States and Europe.
KATERINA BERDEKA (Director)
Katerina Berdeka studied Theatre Studies at the University of Athens, as well as Acting, at Contemporary Athens Theatre Drama School. She has written and directed several plays, such as: “6+1 –The 7 Deadly Sins” (Contemporary Athens Theatre), “Forget about it” (Roes Theatre), “3’’ The memory of the goldfish and other happy animals” (National Theatre, Experimental Stage). She directed for Apo Michanis Theater: Drunk enough to say I love you by Caryl Churchill, Mardi a Monoprix by Emmanuel Darle,The backstage crime by Giannis Maris, Crocodile by Fyodor Dostoyefski, Master builder Solnes by Henrik Ibsen. She wrote, adapted and directed for “MeWe” theatrical team the plays mentioned underneath: LOL (Words, Words, Words) and Chery Orchard. Backstage. Moreover, as a playwright, she has collaborated at the writing of the screenplay of the film “Chinatown” and her short film “Euphoria” was a nominee for the script award within the framework of “48 hours film project”. She has organized the very first performance in Greece of the youth theatre play «Chatroom» by Enda Walsh, at theatre “Chora”. From 2003 to 2018, she has been working as the Head of Theatre Productions for the production companies “Highway” and “Lykofos”, for more than 90 productions, including productions at Hellenic Festival (Athens, Epidavrous) and Onasis Culture Center. Additionally, from 2007 to 2009 she had also been in charge of Theatre “Chora” Repertoire.
“The Lady of Ro”
by Gianni Skaragas
Director: Katerina Berdeka
Starring: Fotini Baxevani
Assistant Director: Marianthi Bayraktari
Set/Costume Designer: Yorgos Gavalas
Light Designer: Lefteris Pavlopoulos