In recent years Romanian stage directors’ growing concern for issues and challenges of contemporary society has become ever more obvious.
In recent years Romanian stage directors' growing concern for issues and
challenges of contemporary society has become ever more obvious. Proof of that
is a new section inaugurated at the National Theatre Festival under a
suggestive title, Theatre and Society Today. The present edition of this
section included six plays, most of them coming from the area of independent
A production of the Educational Theatre Center Replika, the interactive
show, Everything is Quite Normal
created by playwright Alexa Bacanu and director Leta Popescu invites parents
and teenagers to engage in an open dialogue about the physical, emotional and
intellectual changes in pre-adolescence. In an attempt to bridge the
communication gap between generations, the show is also tackling public
interest issues: how important sex education is in schools, sources of
information available for the young ones, how much understanding they get from grown-ups
and their need for communication on the issue. Here is Leta Popescu with more about
the aforementioned theatre performance.
"It all happened at the time when a draft law on sex education in
schools was being debated in Parliament, a draft that was met with opposition
from some individuals. Alexa Bacanu and I paid heed to the latest developments
and thought how we could support a certain type of debates on that issue by
means of what we do. I mean, when I mount a play I design it to be relevant to someone
and that's why I included a moment when lots of opinions are being put up for
debate. And everybody's opinion is right for me, you know. Of course, since it
is a delicate matter, we all should have the guts to speak out, to understand
all the issues and don't take sides so vehemently."
Everything is Quite Normal has been structured as a dialogue
between actors Viorel Cojanu, Silvana Negrutiu and the audience. According to
director Leta Popescu, the idea came from architect Gabi Albu, who did the stage
"The architect divided the space in the theatre hall...and I took it over
from there of course. So I came up with this formula inviting children and
parents alike to come see the performance. The audience is divided in two,
children on one side, parents on the other. I designed it as an intimate, very
friendly performance and nobody is forced to participate if they don't want to.
But in spite of being well-conceived and done, it is prone
to sparking heated debates in the end. And it's impossible to get into the car
and on your way back home not talk to your child about the human body."
Produced by the Bucharest-based Art No More Association, In the Name of the Father deals with
people and their stories about how religion bears on people's private,
professional and social life, about changes, acceptance and pain, about
development and cultural heritage. Here is writer and journalist Elena
Vladareanu, author of the script the performance is based upon:
"My intention was to listen to as many stories as possible and learn from
people with religious backgrounds, who broke away or didn't break away from
these environments; who rediscovered religion as adults maybe in a more radical
way. I did some research, talked to people and read a lot. Also did a lot on-line
reading, hit forums where people are talking about religion and all."
The feedback she got from those who came to see the performance
convinced Elena Vladareanu the theme was important to them:
"I was pleasantly surprised that people came to talk about the show.
After every performance groups of spectators gathered in the lobby and shared
their experiences. And it seems that this issue of religion, religious life,
continues to be of great consequence. And it is indeed a serious issue that
should be dealt with seriously and properly. Things are different and more
intense for us, religion is part of this social construct called identity."
Director Robert Balan's intention was that In the Name of the Father should remain unprejudiced:
I wanted was to avoid giving the impression we have something against religion,
against religious life in general. That is why I opted for placing a monologue
at the beginning, advocating religious tolerance, while at the end, I concluded
with a text focusing on the idea that God is love. And in between there are a few
monologues broaching rather serious, quite inconvenient topics, and we didn't
want to give the impression we fight the idea of religion as such. But rather,
we're all for accepting all forms of religion and yes, we need to say there are
also lots of abusive deeds in religious life. The thing is for us to be able to
see how religious life during childhood also generated good things for the
years to come. I believe the most successful thing about my show is that we
managed to be unbiased altogether."
show is part of a more comprehensive project, titled Intimate Theatre, where
the stage directors' intention was to bridge any gap between the audience and
the actors, as in the production we've mentioned, featuring were Virgil
Aioanei, Carmen Florescu and Ozana Oancea. Stage director Robert Bălanonce
idea was to give up on classical theatre means as much as I can, I wanted to do
away with that area where the actor is patronisingly uttering truths while on
stage. Instead I wanted to get the audience closer to the stage, to integrate
them in the show, yet without bothering them too much. I wanted that type of
interactivity to be integrated in the show as little as possible, but at the
same time, I wanted the audience to be a participant in the show, and not just
a passive viewer."
focusing on social issues is also staged in state institutions. The guest
performance for the 2018 edition of the national theatre festival was Of Men and Potatoes a production of the Andrei
Muresanu Theatre in Sfantu Gheorghe. Stage director Radu Afrim created
documentary show, by means of which he once again brought to the attention of
the public opinion a tragedy that occurred in 2012, when nine people lost their
lives. The trailer that was taking them back from a potato harvesting outing was
shattered by a train. They were daily labourers, people of Rroma origin. The
catastrophe had very little coverage in mass media. "The show is about loss and
survival. While after the show - it is about solidarity", stage director Radu Afrim
said. Around Christmas, a charity event was staged in Sfantu Gheorghe, with
actress Rodica Mandache taking part in it. The eventual aim of the event was
providing help in three social cases, taken over from Radu Afrim's performance.