Interview with SLAVIC ARTISTS client ANNAMARIA SERDA
Annamaria Serda wrote a play, in which she also stars, called “CARLOTTA GRISI – OD VIŽINADE DO VJEČNOSTI” (“CARLOTTA GRISI – FROM VIZINADA TO ETERNITY”) which in 2021 ended up winning the Saint Eufemia Award for Promotion and Revitalization of the Cultural Heritage in Istria. Since then, this play had successfully visited the London scene, as well as the numerous cities in Croatia and Serbia. In February this year, we had a pleasure to enjoy Annamaria’s play again in Belgrade in Bitef Theatre and in Cultural Centre Studentski Grad, and the next performance is scheduled for March 30th in Nis National Theatre, then in Pula and Trieste next.
– How did you come up with the idea of writing a play? Did you know that this was going to be the theme of it or did you just “go with the flow”? Where did you learn to write?
- I’ve always been interested in writing, I started writing in high school for my theatre group, as well as acting, so the two have always gone hand in hand for me, really. For a while I thought I was going to study English literature and I actually got accepted at King’s College London, but I ended up going to Drama school instead. Followed my passion, so to say. No regrets.
- I’m currently doing my PhD in Belgrade under the mentorship of prof. Vida Ognjenović, and part of the assignment was to write your own material, but the thing is it had to be an original piece, and as my PhD thesis is Acting in Musical Theatre, I immediately asked my friend and colleague Ronald Braus for ideas, since he is a singer as well as an actor and has his own theatre company in Croatia. He told me about Carlotta Grisi, a “hidden gem of Istria”, a world-famous ballerina, the first ever Giselle who just happened to be born in Croatia, in a small Istrian town called Vizinada. Thankfully, her life story turned out to be interesting and a great source of dramatic material.
– When you first started writing – what were your motives and what were your goals?
- To make the play interesting (ha!) while doing my best to stay true to the characters and the story. This play is based on real historical figures (Carlotta Grisi and her choreographer and lover Jules Perrot) and their lives, but there isn’t a lot of information available, so there was a lot of room for dramatic liberties so I consider myself really lucky in that regard because I could allow myself the freedom to have fun with the material and sort of make it fit what I was trying to say with this play. The topic and dilemma of love vs. freedom, how free are we in our art if we’re constantly waiting for someone else’s approval, etc. Carlotta and Perrot’s lives turned out to be the perfect platform for these topics.
– Now, when you look back on the writing process, can you say that creating your own play helped you with the research of the roles for your past and future projects?
- Yes, it was immensely helpful, because I had to write characters that very little was known about. Yet, they are famous figures in the ballet world, mind you, so I had to respect certain historical facts (like the years and locations of the ballets of Carlotta and Perrot that we mention in the play, etc.). I researched these people and their lives profoundly before starting to write, but what was most inspiring as well as challenging in this creative process was drawing conclusions about the character of Carlotta or Perrot solely based on their biographies which were composed of historical facts such as; born in, dances Giselle for the first time in 1841, etc. But as I researched her life events, how often she moved, from theatre to theatre, country to country, never wanting to get married, but always coming back to the same man who happened to be her mentor and lover. All these little “breadcrumbs” helped me create this fearless, romantic, ever-evolving woman, who the audiences enjoy and always want to google her after the play. This shows me that I obviously did something right, and will definitely try to apply this method to my future projects.
– Are you planning on writing some new plays or would you try writing screenplays for film and TV?
- I would love to write for film or TV, I currently have some offers to write for theatre again, so we’ll see.
– To wrap this up – why do you think it is important for actors and actresses to write and create their own projects?
- I think it develops your creativity like nothing else. I see it through performing my play – the text is mine, the play is ours, mine, my colleague’s and the creative team that helped create it, so as performances pile up, you get to play with the text, maybe change it to fit the different circumstances we’re performing in. For example, when we performed the play in London, I said a few monologues in English, when we perform in Istria we throw in more Italian. Those are just fun little things, but as an actor it’s very liberating to act in “your own words”, you’re able to express yourself completely because the words are yours, it’s as if a barrier has simply been lifted. It’s an extremely liberating creative process.
Annamaria Serda is a Slavic Artists client known for her roles in TV series such as The Outpost, The Swindlers, King Alexander and many more. She also stared in Slotherhouse, Crawl, Intrigo: Death of an Author and Mayhem.