One of the most relevant programs run by the Romanian Theaters Union (UNITER), initiated and coordinated by the UNITER’s president, actor Ion Caramitru, Romanian Theaters Union’s (UNITER) Awards Gala has reached its 24th edition. Playing host to the event on My the 9th, was one of Romania’s most beautiful theater buildings, the Queen Marie Theater in the northeastern Romanian town of Oradea.
The blueprint of the listed building was drawn out by the famous Vienna-based Fellner and Helmer Architecture Company. It is a period building, whose outer side blends the neo-Classical style with neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque elements, while fittings and inside decorations have an emphatic Rococo style. The Romanian Theaters Union’s (UNITER) Awards Gala has been held each year beginning 1991, and is actually an awarding ceremony where the Union grants its prizes and distinctions for the previous year.
A selection jury nominates the awardees and on the very evening of the Gala another judging panel through secret voting decides upon the winner in each of the 11 categories. The most eagerly awaited nominations, which are left for the end of the Gala, are those in the Best Stage Director and the Best Performance categories. The best stage director in 2015 was Radu Afrim, whom punditry has rated as one of the best Romanian directors, with a very special aesthetics.
Although he received a nomination before, the last time when Radu Afrim got the prize was in 2007. This year, the stage performance that earned Afrim the nomination and the prize was The Rest after Attila Bartis, staged by the Targu Mures National Theater’s Tompa Miklos Company. With details on that, here is Radu Afrim himself.
Radu Afrim: ”It’s a pretty good one, this show. It scooped a string of awards already, it was taken to lots of festivals. It makes the Hungarian section in Targu Mures very visible. I am very happy with that, and I suppose they’re very happy as well. The actors, with or without prizes, are fabulous! It’s an extremely available troupe. Had this team not inspired me to the utmost, had they not been so incredibly talented or available, had they not joined me taking it all to the extreme, I wouldn’t have possibly received the prize. Quite unlike my other stage performances, it’s not an ‘afrimian’ show, this one, since it is not so iconoclastic. What I had before me was a dramatization, and a text I had to present as close to its truth as possible and as closely as possible to its form. So I didn’t play that much the way I usually play with the classics, or with other not so good texts, like this novel by Attila Bartis. “
Handing in the award in the Best Stage Performance category was the famous actress Jacqueline Bisset. The recipient of the prize was the director of the national Theater in Cluj Napoca Mihai Maniutiu, for Laszlo Bocsardi’s stage version of Our classroom by Tadeusz Słobodzianek. With details on that, here is Mihai Maniutiu himself.
Mihai Manutiu: ”You cannot stage the best show only with an intelligent or resourceful stage direction, but without actors. You cannot put up the best theater show only with an interesting and innovative choreography or set design. If on stage you don’t have the flesh and blood, the troupe, the best actors, you will never succeed to stage the best performance of the year. So for me, as the director of a theatre, the most important thing is that what I had sensed has been confirmed and I hoped the others would notice that as well, the fact that the actors of the Cluj National Theater have such a high degree of performance, as individuals but also as a troupe. “
Also at the UNITER Awards Gala, the UNITER Senate grants the Excellence Prize, the lifetime achievement awards and the special prizes. With details on that, here is critic Alice Georgescu of the UNITER Senate.
Alice Georgescu: “The very purpose of the special prizes was to highlight the special things that happened in a whole year. And that never stays the same from one year to the next, since it seldom happens that excellence occurs in the same field, two years in a row. As a rule, what we take into account is a special achievement. We shouldn’t mistake the excellence prize for that on lifetime achievement. It’s about someone who was active way beyond the set limits, all throughout a year. As for Gigi Caciuleanu, we took into account the excellence of his presence in the theater landscape. And that because he is a rare bird, a chorographer who does theatre, yet he does that in a very theatrical way, and not only a choreographic one. Always his stage performances have a strong impact on the theater he works with. He has that gift of getting people going, of getting them go beyond their limits, of discovering new things about themselves. “
For choreographer Gigi Caciuleanu, who for many years now has settled in France, the Excellence Prize coming from the motherland is like a gift, is like an unexpected gift he was offered. Speaking now is Gigi Caciuleanu himself.
Gigi Caciuleanu: “I am very happy, since it means that somewhere somehow I did pass some exams. I am very happy to integrate in a very official, beautiful and festive way the space of Romanian theater. It is a province I have always been proud of, it’s an area I came from, actually, yet it is something I walked out on in certain circumstances and all of a sudden I found myself in it once again, and I am very happy because of that. I feel I am quite all right because of that. I believe it is a value-creating achievement for the time being. I don’t know what its worth is, for eternity. It is a moment of excellence, it is not a prize for excellence. The real confirmation of all that comes from the public. And I was lucky enough to have the public as my ally in certain circumstances.”
Actress Luminita Gheorghiu was one of the artists to whom UNITER granted the Lifetime Achievement Award. She is mainly known for her lead role in Calin Peter Nezter’s production, “The Child’s Pose”. The film won the Golden Bear in the 2013 edition of the Berlin Film Festival, and Luminita Gheorghiu scooped the Gopo Awards for Best European Actress. Speaking now is Luminita Gheorghiu herself, about how she received the news about the lifetime achievement award.
Luminita Gheorghiu: “I received that with loads of joy and a bit of amazement since, when you’re being offered a lifetime achievement prize, you have the feeling your career is over, but no. It’s only the beginning of my stage career. I am still young at heart. I believe you can get on with such a trade only if you’re young at heart. And that is tantamount to the hope that the moment comes when you play a part in a better way, better, and better.”
One of UNITER’s special prizes went to Romanian-born French resident playwright Matei Visniec, who is the most widely staged Romanian playwright.