The inspiring story of the ‘The Lady of Ro’ comes to Perth, Australia on the 1st of June 2019, immersing the audience into the life of a heroic Greek woman who is known as a national hero.
The story is based on the life of Despina Achladioti, otherwise referred to as the “Lady of Ro”. She was born on the island of Kastellorizo but fled with her husband during WWI to the nearby deserted island of Ro, a stone’s throw from Turkey’s southern coastline. Despina watched as her home was invaded by Italians, bombed by Germans and all the island’s residents were evacuated from their homes by British forces.
Despina is known as a Greek National hero as from the time she arrived on the island of Ro, until her death in 1982 at the age of 92, she single-handedly and proudly raised the Greek flag every morning on the remote island, that was visible from Turkish soil.
The life of the heroic Greek woman has been turned into a unique theatrical performance featuring acclaimed actress Fotini Baxevani. The play was written by Giannis Skaragas, directed by Katerina Bertheka and produced by Lykofos company.
‘The Lady of Ro’ celebrates the will to survive in the most desperate of circumstances, weaving together a mosaic of human experience and dramatic scenes from Greek history during the first half of the 20th century.
Acclaimed actress Fotini Baxevani brings Despina’s story to life. “Sometimes, trying to identify what, exactly, makes a role important is difficult. Other times the magic is so powerful and contagious that you feel it right away. That’s how I fell in love with this play. I think there’s a word for what makes it so powerful — poetry — but to reduce its power to one word is missing the point.
“Our play is a candidly intimate yet universal story of faith and loss, a heart-rending fable of life and death, describing the terrain of human suffering, but also the wonderful range of human emotions. ‘The Lady of Ro’ evokes a specific time and place yet movingly describes the universal human condition.”
The show which is performed in Greek with English supertitles opened in October 2017 to great acclaim. It was a huge hit in Athens and performed in front of sold-out audiences while on its two years National Tour of Greece. The performance received invitations from leading international art centres including the UCLA Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles, in association with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Center for the Study of Hellenic Culture.
“I wanted to write a story about a woman’s struggle with isolation and sanity interwoven with a narrative about a nation’s spirit. I focused on the woman who gave herself and the world a little faith as a lover, as a fighter and as a participant in history. I’ve been writing about the economic crisis in my English short fiction throughout the past decade, and Despina Achladioti was the perfect symbol for a multilayered chronicle of ordinary people in an era of sweeping change—not only a representation of the Greek self and cultural identity but also a mosaic of human experience,” play writer of the show, Gianni said.
The performance is supported by the Consulate of Greece in Perth and The Castellorizian Association of WA.
Antonios Koliadis, Consul of Greece in Perth said that in October 2018, he formed “a steering committee, consisting mainly of prominent Castellorizians, in order to explore the possibilities of bringing Fotini Baxevani and the ‘Lady of Ro’ to Perth.
The Lady of Ro
When: Saturday 1st June 2019
Where: Subiaco Arts Centre, Perth, Western Australia
*Images by Elina Giounanli