The fifth edition of the IMPRO national improvisation festival has recently come to a close.
The fifth edition of the IMPRO national improvisation festival has recently come to a close. This edition brought together 75 actors, 17 stage performances, 2 IMPRO Talks sessions and 8 workshops. All these were held under the shared label running as “Stories with us!” and were hosted by the Horia Bernea studio of the National Peasant Museum in Bucharest. It takes a great deal of courage to initiate an improvisation festival, the first of its kind in Romania.
Speaking about that, here is the festival’s creative director Monica Anastase: ”We were afraid, and our fear has never ceased. I know that one of the definitions of courage is to do something overcoming your fear. As for us, whenever we step onto the stage, without knowing beforehand what is going to happen, we experience that kind of risk. It is the risk of disclosing our inner selves, in ways we cannot control completely. But the wonderful part of it all is that once you take that risk, the public, the audiences are sure to join you, because they admire you for that courage. And even if some moments do not come along perfectly well, or just like in classical theater, that courage and that plunge into the unknown are highly appreciated. We like to say improvisation is stage-directed to the extent that there is a set of rules that should be observed, like in sport. Any match, as improvisation has the same specific elements, is a team undertaking, it has its rules, but that’s it, you don’t know what is going to happen later on. This means that improvisation is not exactly total chaos, we don’t step onto the stage without knowing anything about it. In keeping with the type of improvisation show that we have, there can be more or fewer rules. Furthermore, aside from the structure of such stage performances, there are suggestions coming from our audiences, that we always take into consideration.”
The IMPRO national improv festival continued this year with their IMPRO TALKS series, an interactive session of discussions on how people in creative industries apply improvisation in their activities.
This is a challenge taken up by writer Simona Popescu: “We launched this IMPRO TALKS section last year, aiming to raise awareness of the fact that the term 'improvisation' does not necessarily have a negative connotation. Writer Simona Popescu was pleasantly impressed when she discovered us, because she has been using improvisation techniques with her students at the Faculty of Letters since 2009, and they have been writing there a collaborative novel, 'Rubik', built out of improvisation. The good news is that in this second edition we started inviting people from abroad, and our foreign guests were delighted about what they found here. The festival is better and better known. The improv artists we’ve invited this year were already familiar with what goes on at IMPRO, they knew it was a very good festival. We made the selection after watching shows from various countries, for the last two or three years we've been going abroad as well, to see what happens in the world in terms of improv.”
The international section included three shows in English, with international artists. The British group “The Maydays” went there with a show about love stories, while Dave Morris and Missie Peters from Canada had a poetry improv show. As a surprise, on the third evening they all got together for a surprise performance.
The International Theatre Festival in Turda organised by the Aureliu Manea Theatre in Turda acquired an international dimension this year. The manager of this theatre, Catalin Grigoras, explains: “I think it’s the first time we see so many different events taking place in Turda at the same time, both in conventional and unconventional venues, such as the town’s former beer factory and the Turda salt mine. Many other events were held in the town’s pedestrian area. The festival features two exceptional productions, a musical from Hungary, called ‘The Woman Sitting 42th Seat’, and a very interesting street show staged by a company from Italy, ‘Teatro dei Venti’. Another production we are very fond of is the work of the North Theatre in Satu Mare, namely Carnival Scenes. There are also a number of guest productions from Poland. I’m glad the local administration supports us and we hope private firms will also join us next year. I’m sure that will happen, because Turda has an extraordinary potential: the salt mines, the Roman fort, to name but a few. All these sites will be made more visible through such events.”