A shooting star!
A fresh graduate student from the Lebanese University in Theater, Patricia Smayra’s got that je-ne-sais-quoi, built in. A mix of innocence and charm, authenticity yet mastered acting techniques, Patricia owns the stage and the world with a smile. Acting as Cecile in Joe Kodeih’s Dangerous Liaisons, among renowned actors; Bernadette Houdeib, Bruno Tabbal, Solange Trak, and Joe Kodeih himself, she keeps up to the several acting skills, and brings her own freshness to the play, be it backstage or under the spotlights, in addition to her skillful dancing skills, that mesmerize the audience. Quoting Audrey Hepburn, Patricia’s favorite actress, ‘for beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.’ And Patricia simply has it all, instinctively. Way to go Pat!
Favorite actress: Audrey Hepburn
Favorite quote: For you to love me is an option not an obligation but for you to respect me is an obligation not an option.
Favorite movies: ‘Becoming Jane’ Jane Austin’s life, Audrey’s life, and ‘Letters to Juliet.’
How easy or difficult was the training period for the play Liaisons Dangereuses?
First, I thought that the first period was the most difficult. But later on, when we started the ‘filages,’ I realized that this was the toughest among all other periods, because it was my first play separately from the plays I had done at university. Later on, when I started to integrate my character, -or vice versa, I started to love it. Therefore, it became a source of happiness to me. The only issue was that it coincided with my final exams. Still, usually the toughest period is before one appropriates the character.
How much time did it take for you to be fully into the character?
I’m still integrating the character performance after performance. Everytime I go on stage I discover something new in Cecile.
What’s the common point between you and Cecile?
I would say we have a lot in common. Cecile’s purity is the closest to me, but not her naivety.
What did it take you to build the character? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I try to get it from many situations I have lived before and also to try to meet Cecile, the character itself, at some point too, because she is definitely an inspiration. For instance, in the cell phone scene, I try to go back to the very first time a guy at school sent me an sms message. I remember that I was totally carried away by it and that I ran home to tell my mom all about it. Whenever I’m on stage, I try to go back to that very same feeling and scene.
What would you say about the team’s homogeneity?
You can feel that backstage, we are all helping each other out. Especially that I am the youngest and newest one among the team. Everyone is helping me and I am learning from everyone. I believe that this homogeneity among us reflects on stage. The audience feels it.
What do you mostly fear on stage?
I am afraid of having to deal everyday with a different kind of audience. This needs everytime a dissimilar kind of interaction. Once I step into my character’s shoes and get to this click of how to interact with that specific audience, I feel at ease. Each time I go on stage, I have stage freight. I believe that if some actors don’t feel stage freight before going on stage, they’re not real actors…
What do you specifically enjoy during this play in particular?
I like the various fun and funny moments my character, Cecile, has. I enjoy having fun and interacting with the audience and love when they laugh. This is very rewarding.
Would you like to thank anyone?
I would like to thank Emile Aouad for the sound design, and during the play, James Chehab for the lighting and Sarah Avedikian for the sound, the actors Bernadette Houdeib, Bruno Tabbal and Solange Trak for their continuous backing from the beginning of the play and uptil now; they’re still granting me the strength I need to go on, and of course, everyone who contributed to the success of the play.
Any message to the audience?
In Lebanon, everyone must encourage theater even though it is not mainly part of our culture. There are many talents unveiled and unrevealed to the audience, and it would be great if there could be a spotlight on them.
Any message to the director, Joe Kodeih?
I would like to thank him, because I knew that there were many applicants who applied and auditioned for Cecile’s role. Still, he couldn’t see Cecile but in me. I am really thankful that he had this vision, and that he saw I could fit in this character. I would also like to thank him for the experience he granted me, especially that he integrated me into a group of many famous actors who have many years of experience, and from whom I could acquire a lot.
*Interview conducted by Marie-Christine Tayah
Liaisons Dangereuses play still runs at Theatre Gemmayze, Beirut
For reservations: Librairie Antoine or 76-409109