During its 8 editions so far, Bucharest Fringe has supported nearly 2,000 independent artists, bringing more than 200 performances and related events to over 20,000 theatre lovers.
Bucharest Fringe – The Independent Theatre Marathon took place between October 11 and 20th, 2019 in several venues in Bucharest, and brought together a selection of the best independent theatre productions of the past year. During its 8 editions so far, Bucharest Fringe has supported nearly 2,000 independent artists, bringing more than 200 performances and related events to over 20,000 theatre lovers.
Taking part in the selection for this year’s edition of Bucharest Fringe were more than 50 performances, and in spite of the financial difficulties facing the independent sector, the organisers have been able to come up with a diverse range of shows and events. We talked to Bucharest Fringe director, Radu Popescu, who told us how the festival managed to ensure a platform for the development of independent theatre:
Radu Popescu: “The festival awards, granted during these 8 editions, brought to the forefront of the cultural market a number of artists, directors, set designers, actors, who then grew to become quite famous. To mention just some of them, the directors Horia Suru, Bobi Pricop and Andrei Majeri, actresses Nicoleta Lefter, Ana Ularu and Florina Gleznea, set designers Tudor Prodan and Vladimir Turturica, were all awarded in Bucharest Fringe. In the first years of the festival, we would have as many as 8 awards per edition. This kind of recognition remains quite important, but there is also the recognition received by the venues hosting the performances. This year, the circumstances forced us to have the entire festival at Apropo Theatre, but over the years the festival was a lifeline for small, independent venues. The problem is that, although we have tried to promote the independent venues in Bucharest, this was not enough for them to survive. Unfortunately, this is a rather bleak time for the independent theatre halls in Bucharest, a lot of places that used to operate are now closed down.”
Two premieres and a preview are included in this year’s Bucharest Fringe. One of the premieres is “The Shakespeare Experiment,” by Andreea Radu, starring Raisa Ane and Teodor Ghita, a show that brings the audience into the limelight, bringing them on stage alongside the performers. The concept is new and unusual for the Bucharest public. The second premiere presented at Bucharest Fringe – The Independent Theatre Marathon is “LO-LI-TA a LO-VE Story”, a show directed by Monica Pop. Also worth seeing is the show directed by Robert Balan, featuring Virgil Aioanei, Nicusor Rotaru and Robert Balan.
Robert Balan: “I have not had a clear intention with this show. I now believe it is a show about the roles in a family, the need for the involvement of a father in raising a child and about how these roles have changed over the past ten years. When I started working on this play I started from the idea of finding typically masculine frustrations to develop in the play. After a few performances I realised the word frustration is very present in this show. My initial intention was to find the unpleasant topics that men usually refuse to discuss - failures, embarrassing moments or poverty, which they are ashamed of. This was the line that I chose and I was happy to find out, from some of the women who saw the show, that these problems are not necessarily gender-related and that the play might as well be one about mothers, in the sense that it does not present only a man’s point of view.”
Given that 2019 is dedicated to reading, this year’s edition of Bucharest includes a number of shows dedicated to literature, such as “An-Tan-Tina”, a performance by Nicoleta Lefter after Ana Blandiana’s Book, “False Treaty of Manipulation”, a poetry and music show inspired from Nina Cassian’s poems, meetings with important writers and screenings of documentary film about Romanian writers. (Translated by Ana Maria Popescu / Elena Enache)