AGreek by any other name… is still a Greek! OPA!
Behind every name is a story, or is it ‘behind every story there is a name’? Either way, last night at the Federal Hall I was fortunate enough to bear witness to George Catsi’s ‘poli-named’ family walk down memory lane: so much of Catsi’s growth journey seems to cross paths with my own ethnic-origins, I was gobsmacked (wonder what that word is in Greek?)
Catsi admits, “I can’t speak Greek” and tells us how he attempted to retrieve his ‘Greek', asking the hypnotist to find his “deep cortex lost language”. His mother then admitted “… you never spoke Greek, even as a child…” You can’t find what you never had, however, after joining George for the evening, I realise this is not true: George found himself.
Memoirs are therapeutic for the memoir writer, a sort of stocktake of one’s history, and if ‘one’s history’ is of interest to a wider audience, this makes for an epic story, entertaining and inclusive. George Catsi crosses over the seas and the sky to bring home what is important to us all: a sense of identity and belonging, however scrambled and sad/happy that may be. Not always easy. Catsi moves through his ‘non-relationship’ with his father, his Papou, his mother, brothers and all the name-changing and home-swapping through the many stages of his maturation-process. I felt I, too, must be part of his family! Are you my brother, Yorgos? Your dad jumped ship (so did mine); you were the only ‘wogs’ in a white suburb (me too); your passenger ship story (the ship shutting down due to the drunken Ozzies (not to be confused with Ouzos); Greeks with “the real-estate-gene… fear, denial, resilience and hope…” Are we really not related? As the audience joined George, every step of the way, I guess we can’t all be part of his family!
Catsi’s one-man show is a Greek comedy-tragedy outlining many home truths; a “treasure hunt” with “emotional and archaeological treasures” where he admits to “watching my life through my father’s life that I was never really part of”. Never easy.
George-by-any-other-name (ruminating his father) admits, “I was written out of his story but I’ve written him into mine…” A memoir can kick-start the healing journey: George Catsi holds our hands through his metamorphosis, and in such an intimate venue, with souls hungry for a story, we left replete. Yassoo, Opa and Hronia Pola!
Special mention: Mandy Nolan was MC and once again, cracked up the audience whilst announcing that food would be provided by Ilias the Greek, a local Greek lad who has baclava’d his way through life and “… settle down, you’ll all get something so don’t get ‘sooky’”. If you want to “laugh at your own expense” and find your own “authentic you”, Dr George Catsi and Mandy Nolan address The Elephant in the Room (my rooms are so full of elephants, I had to move out) and offer a chance to “convey, convince and command” with your own story. TheAuthenticYouMasterclass. There is a memoir in everyone.
Mandy Nolan presents
Am I Who I Say I Am?
written and performed by George Catsi
Venue: Federal Hall, Federal, Northern Rivers
Dates: 17 June 2021