Theatre and society

theatre and society 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 theatre production.

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 design:

"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:

"What 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."

The 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 again:

"My 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."

Theatre 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.
Publicat: 2019-01-05 13:58:00
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