The Mirror: You are an actress. When did you first become interested in acting? When did you notice your first impulses?
Anna Diogène: Since my childhood I was interested in visual arts, music, dance, cinema and theatre. I was always drawing and painting and my favorite game consisted in disguising my friends and myself. When I was three years old I had also a very special friend nobody could see. I was always talking and playing with her and my parents totally respected our relationship. I was very lucky to be able to widely develop my imagination.
I studied Art in the University and also music and dance. And afterwards I studied acting in a theatre and cinema school and decided to focus my professional life totally in this field because I prefer to create in collaboration with other people.
M: Can you talk about your life and how your life experience may have influenced you to become an actress.
AD: While I was at school I decided to follow the scientific branch, as I wanted to become a veterinarian. I loved mathematics, physics, biology, but I was also very interested in philosophy, literature or art. I also wanted to become an astrophysicist and study Egyptology. I didn’t want to specialize my studies and renounce to all this wisdom I was discovering around me; my curiosity seemed to be infinite. I wished I could have lived in the Renaissance and met Leonardo da Vinci! Well, being an actress allows me to experience a lot of professions and different lives, so maybe my curiosity brought me to become an actress.
M: Also can you talk about your life and acting and how that brought you to Rinpoche and the Teachings? How did you first encounter Rinpoche and Dzogchen?
AD: Like everybody, I had personal issues during my childhood and I had very traumatic experiences during my adolescence and youth. Due to these circumstances I started a personal research and studied philosophy, symbolism and Buddhism.
I usually remember my dreams very well and sometimes I receive information through them. During my adolescence I started writing my dreams, sometimes I remembered two or three different ones. I also had the feeling that life was like a dream, or even less “real” than a dream.
So I have always been very interested in deepening this aspect of my life. At the same time, after finishing my studies in the University, I started following the Teachings of different Masters as His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Gyalwang Drukpa Rinpoche or Shepen Dawa Rinpoche among others. I was following the path like a little bee and was more and more interested in Mahamudra and Dzogchen.
One day I found a treasure: the book Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Lightwritten by Rinpoche. I started reading it and after a few pages I fell asleep. The next morning I remembered my dream clearly and was very surprised by all the information, the details, the light, the colors and, especially because I was aware that it was a dream and I was able to change it and continue, and change and continue. “ I want to meet Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, ” was my first thought.
I tried few times to go to Merigar but the circumstances were not favorable, so meanwhile I was reading other books written by Rinpoche. Finally, in 2005, I had the privilege to meet Rinpoche in person during the first retreat in Barcelona. I had the impression that Mount Kailash was manifesting and entering the space; I was totally pervaded by Rinpoche’s Compassion, Wisdom and Light.
M: How is acting related to and/or how does acting affect your life experience?
AD: Philosophy and the Teachings are part of my life. Everything we do is an experience; integrated. So acting is also totally related to my life. It is my profession, not only a job.
A musician is an artist and plays an instrument, has to work hard, study and develop a technique and his or her creativity, with feelings, harmony and richness of expressivity, etc. And he communicates magically to the audience.
An actor works in the same direction but his instrument is himself.
So as an actress I need to know perfectly my instrument and work with it. I have to investigate, discover how to deal with it, to open possibilities, to master and develop my instrument more and more. But what is my instrument? It is my body and my voice of course but not only that. I also need to use my feelings, my sensations, my energy, and my thoughts. This is a very interesting question.
And here starts a whole fascinating world of research with my instrument, with myself; therefore I need to deepen my self-observation and my listening.
Who am I? Who are we? And this could be applied to any of us, as practitioners, as individuals, as human beings in this planet. So yes, acting affects totally my life experience, which affects totally my acting.
M: How has your life experience shaped your acting? How have the Teachings impacted your acting? How does acting relate to the discovery that happens inside the teachings; does it help or inhibit that journey? In general can you talk about acting, life and the teachings?
AD: What is “acting”, is it performing? We can say many things but I don’t want to give a definition. I will try to describe my modest experience in this field.
For me acting is listening more than “doing”. Creating in collaboration with others, exchanging, communicating feelings, sensations, ideas, values, teachings – growth. To be a good actress I need to separate my ego from me and put it aside. Like this I can be another person, another character. I can be anyone! And I can enjoy and be surprised by “her” (or “him”). I can “play” and do anything. And obviously, my experience in life helps me to play certain situations, I appeal to my memories (sensorial memories, images etc.) and my imagination to create them.
I do all that with awareness and mastering my instrument in a relaxed way, listening and dealing with other people and elements at the same time.
My experience as an actress has a lot to do with my experience as a Dzogchen practitioner, more and more. I could even say that there is so much in common that I don’t see any difference. In the same way I cannot separate life from art or life from the Path.
So acting is totally related to the discovery that happens inside the Teachings.
It represents the same journey on the same boat.
M: What is your main form of acting, film or stage? Which do you prefer?
AD: I have always worked in different media: TV, cinema and theatre. I work with my voice for documentaries, commercials or dubbing films. I have also directed theatre and taught acting to children and adults.
I love to act in cinema and stage. We use different techniques but I love both of them. In cinema you can act in a more subtle way with your body, voice and energy. You can offer different tones and colors with the expression of your face or your hands, or very deep, delicate and rich glances with your eyes.
In theatre you use your instrument in a “wider” range, sometimes in a more ”organic” way, depending on the kind of show you are performing in. It can be a very “physical” type of theatre with big movements or dance and music; or a play more focused on the text so the aspect of the words and poetry is more important, therefore you emphasize the music of the language. There are many kinds of plays and different ways to stage them. I have experience in all of them and I enjoy widening more and more possibilities. It depends also on the approach of the director. Sometimes you connect more or less with that approach but you try to give what is required in every situation. So you need to be very flexible and always adapt your acting to the circumstances and the rest of the crew, the other actors, the space, the lights, etc. Every experience is unique.
On stage you can feel the energy of the audience and this is something very special and magical. Every performance is different because the people in the audience are different every night. And this is a very demanding experience, but very rich. You cannot see them but you can feel them and they are modifying you and the way you play. We are co-creating the play every night. We all feel different every day, again and again. If you take the challenge to create seriously, as “if it were the first time you say that sentence”, you can discover a whole world and even be surprised by yourself, by your character, even the tone of your voice can change. To reach this level of creativity is one of my goals and I really enjoy it. I feel free and connected to the “magic” when it happens. But if you don’t take any risk and you repeat what you already “know”, acting can be very boring and the audience will fall asleep!
I try to deepen in the process of creating throw the experience of “listening” to each other, the actors on stage and the people in the audience; or even the actors on a studio with the team around them and the magic of the moment. I try to be present. Acting is a practice of presence.
M: What kind of acting are you doing currently?
AD: I feel very fortunate because I had the privilege to choose my profession in life and I can live on it. I do any kind of acting required to earn my living with modesty. I choose with certain criteria of honesty, respect and creativity.
I love comedies and I think that the sense of humor is an important skill to develop and a very useful and interesting tool for our lives. And when we play the classical Greek tragedies for example, we are entering in the symbolic world of the archetypes, which is very reach and interesting to study. We also play dramas; and the word “play”- like in French “jouer”- means also to enjoy like kids do, they play. And this is great because when hard or dramatic things happen in our lives, we are able to take them with a certain distance, like in a dream.
By the way, in our daily lives we are all constantly playing different characters: the mother, the son, the sister, the customer, the traveler – it is interesting to be aware of it, of how we behave with different people or situations and observe ourselves.
Professionally I’m always opened to collaborate with different types of people and crews. I like to work with young directors who are starting in order to help them and also to exchange new points of view. We can learn constantly while exchanging experiences with different people and generations: from the wiser and older with large background, to the youngest with fresh ideas, who experiment with new medias or techniques.
M: Is there anything else you would like to say regarding the relationship of your art as an actor and the Teachings?
AD: When we develop and deepen the field of acting – or any art in general – we are dealing with many different aspects that are totally related to the Teachings. As a communicator, I’m also trying to share my limited experience with other people. Since I was very young I wondered how I could help the others. This question is still by my side and is one of my teachers. So I try also to transmit a message that can be useful to others.
Currently I am writing a script for a film and collaborating with a friend in another one. I think that it would be wonderful to collaborate with other artists from the Dzogchen Community for future projects. We could organize a special net where we could all communicate, also people from different fields interested in co-creating, sharing and spreading some contents related to the Teachings.
Like in life, every day is different and every moment is special and unique. What can help us to live better? What is important? To love, respect, be present, be happy, to be free in a relaxed way, listening, collaborating, creating, and smiling. We all know that this is the advice our Precious Master gave to us. We try to apply this advice in our daily lives and in our professions, respecting and loving the beings around us, and our mother Earth.
I feel very fortunate for many reasons, for my family and friends, and I feel especially grateful to Rinpoche for his Compassion and Wisdom, for the Teachings he was sharing with us in such a special way and with such dedication. The Teachings are here with us, in us. He was also the greatest communicator, “actor”, that I have ever met.
Thank you Rinpoche.
Thank you Naomi and Liz for this opportunity to share with all of you a little piece of my experience.
M: Thank you, Anna.
Biography of Anna Diogène Fadini, Actress
Anna lives in Barcelona, Spain nowadays.
She studied Art in the University of Barcelona and Acting with different directors from Spain, London or New York. She has been working as an actress on TV, cinema and theatre in international projects around Europe.
On stage she has performed plays from different styles and authors as the classical Greeks, Commedia dell’Arte, Shakespeare, Hemingway, Molière, Edoardo de Filippo, García Lorca or Buero Vallejo among others.
In cinema and TV she has worked with many directors from Spain, France, Italy, England and Germany.
She is now developing several personal projects: writing a script for a film, participating in another cinema project and co-creating a theatre play with poems in collaboration with a pianist, an actress and a visual artist.
To contact Anna: firstname.lastname@example.org