This year's edition of the National Theater Festival is dedicated to 30 years of freedom in Romania
This year's edition of the National Theater Festival is dedicated to 30 years of freedom in Romania. The events of December 1989 upended an entire society, restoring for Romanians, among other things, the right to freedom of expression through the arts. Irrespective of what a society is going through, culture is representative, and theater these days celebrates regaining its full rights. In the opening of the National Theater Festival 2019, Marina Constantinescu, director of the festival, dedicated the first meeting with the festival public to the voices of freedom on Radio Free Europe:
“It is our moral duty to dedicate this edition, in which we celebrate 30 years of freedom, to everything that happened before that. Today I felt a need to bow before those who resisted, who presented the reality in which we were living but didn't know about, they taught us ahead of time what inner freedom and dignity mean. Most likely many of us wondered why a theater festival is dealing with this issue. We have dealt with a lot of things, we've been doing it for a long time, but we also deal with the moral duties we have. This is a moral duty.”
Answering the invitation launched by Marina Constantinescu was US Ambassador Hans Klemm, who wanted to emphasize the importance that Radio Free Europe had for Romanians who were enduring communism. Also, His Excellency recalled the reopening in Romania of Radio Free Europe.
Emil Hurezeanu, currently a diplomat and former voice on the Romanian service headquartered in Munich, talked about the emergence and main objective of Radio Free Europe:
“This American station was set up close in the early Cold War, in Munich, with its central building in the English Park, and with offices in Paris, for certain countries that had cultural departments – such as Romania, with Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca – and in Washington, for political correspondents. It was a station set up for the representatives of the ideology of containing and preventing the advancement of communism, of preserving a certain normalcy of information by plugging countries of the Warsaw Pact into Western information.”
In a world in which lack of knowledge and fear manifested themselves in the most sinister ways, the voices of Free Europe journalists provided real information, which traversed the closed borders of Romania by airwaves. Neculai Constantin Munteanu was one of those voices. At the opening of the National Theater Festival 2019 he reminisced about his activity at the radio station in the 1980s:
“We were only two of the voices in the night that held the attention of Romanians, kept them on the edge of their seats for almost 50 years. We worked there for only the last 14 years, during the worst years, and we held the fort until Radio Free Europe closed down. I have to say that we had a group of hardcore listeners, people who had been listening since the '50s and '60s, people who had been fans of Cornel Chiriac. After 1980, Free Europe was an integral part of everyday life in Romania. We were the only ones who could talk about what was happening in Romania, and we did it in spite of all the risks, fully aware of the dangers we were exposing ourselves to.”
After 1989, enthusiasm and confidence in a new beginning were in full swing, including in theater. Theater critic George Banu, a member of UNITER and honorary president of the International Association of Theater Critics, recalled the atmosphere in the early '90s:
“I formed a great friendship, which later on unraveled a bit. I formed a group of friends with Marcel Iures, Oana Pellea, Mihai Manutiu, and Cipriana Petrea. We met all the time, in a then famous restaurant. In a way, these 30 years are the memory of the confirmation of some friendships, but also the tying of other friendships. It wasn't just about rediscovering friendship, it was also the birth of friendship. I am fully convinced that friendship needs to be tended like a garden.”
As the public has gotten used with each additional edition, the team of the National Theater Festival prepared this year an unmissable theatrical selection. The catalog of the festival that ran between October 18 and 27, as well as additional information, is available on the website fnt.ro.