Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Adriana and Gabriel in their apartment at the theatre, since they can't live at their apartment until Gabriel gets the casts off his legs. They're going to have their first child together and I'm sure that you can tell the baby will be beautiful after looking at Mom and Dad!
Friday was getting to
We started out at about in the morning and I was dropped off at my hotel about . I asked Daria to please tell the driver he deserved a gold medal for getting us there all in one piece! I had a desperate need to do some stretching exercises and soak in a tub of hot water – by myself. Luckily my Webist artist friend Carmen and her hubby Valentin were understanding of my need to spend some time alone.
Late the next afternoon, Carmen and Valentin took me to the town of
We then went to a restaurant called La Mama Casa in an old part of
On this Easter eve, the faithful go to church where they light a candle from ones in the church. The candles signifying the light of Christ, are then brought home and kept burning as a sign of their faith and for good luck for the following year. It was beautiful to see the faces of the people light by candle light was they either walked home or to their cars. Carmen and Valentin had already given me two red colored eggs. The eggs are supposed to be knocked together by family members or friends so they will meet again in the afterlife.
On Orthodox Easter Sunday I went to the airport for my flight back to
And here I am in
"Strega gets its start back in the early 1860’s. Giuseppe Alberti based the recipe for his product on one which the local monks had been making up as a medicinal tonic. The recipe was enhanced with additional herbs and spices and was sold as “Alberti Medical Elixir.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t catching on. So with what amounts to a grand marketing inspiration, Giuseppe came upon the idea of renaming the product “Strega,” which means “witch” in Italian. In Benevento, where Strega is produced, there was a local belief of witchcraft, and one of the most popular uses was the formulation of a secret “love potion.” Giuseppe insinuated that his elixir was associated with this formula, and its popularity was assured."
It's a bright yellow liquor with a taste one can't quite put one's finger on. But is was very strong so it was just two sips for me. My friend then brought over a cup of decaf expresso for me as he didn't want me to get lost getting back to the hotel.
Later this afternoon, I caught up with my old high school chum, Jonathan Stangroom. He drove over to the htoel and we walked over to another Italian resturant with a bar for a couple of boom-bahs and stories from my journey puchuated with our memories of high school in Tyngsborough. Some of the funny stories I remembered, he didn't, but isn't that always the way with friends and family talking about the past? He did say Hi from another old high school friend Mike Langlois, who works with him painting. We also compared notes on foreign travel and how it's a wonderful way to gain a better perspective on one's life.
Tomorrow home again, home again, jiggedity jig. While this journey has been wonderful, I've so missed my sweet hubby, the dog and kitties. I know there will be a mountain of mail to go through, but I've made friends and memories to last a lifetime! Can't wait to go back! You'll also want to check out the Flickr site later this week as I'll post the rest of the photos I've taken there along with some videos which I'll also post to You Tube.
After that show, I was outside the theatre speaking with the radio reporter, when Acriş, approached me. He had overheard me talking the night before joking about how I don’t like to do dishes, so I always try to beat my hubby into the kitchen to make dinner. He wanted to speak with me about his show and we scheduled a appointment for the next day.
At , it was Coca Bloos in “Ich bin Ofelia” (after Gertrud Füssenegger) at the small café that is right next door to the theatre. Bloos is no spring chicken, but her performance had the vitality of a woman more than half her age. I got some of it, but would love to see the script. In it she goes from playing Ophelia in “Hamlet” to a character who makes ironic comments. At the end she pulls off this shiny film that has been covering her face and takes off her blonde wig and the dress she is wearing, revealing a simple white shift and her hair up in a black wig cap.
Thursday was the final day of the festival which held two events for most but three for me. At was the launch of a book called “Juggler King Ştefan Iordache” by Ludmilla Patianjoglu, a university professor and critic. Iordache was another of
At 7 that evening was the ceremony to award the prizes. There were prizes for best actor and best actress given by a group of young people. They choose Elena Iulia Colan for her performance in “Flowers for Algernon” and Ivan Vidosavljevic for his performance in “Diary of a Madman”.
The jury was to award three prizes: Overall Excellance – The Star and then prizes for best actor and best actress. The Artistic Manager, Gabriel told the jury that they didn’t have to award all the prizes if they didn’t think they were warranted. However, the majority of the jury decided to award all the prizes. I was outvoted on two of the awards being only one person among five jurors. I was probably the only one to take a post-modern view of the work presented.
In theatre history of the past, the many elements that go into making a theatrical piece were viewed in a rather vertical way with the text taking the top position, then actor, and all the rest. When one considers theatre in a post-modern way, it’s a horizontal construct with each element being equally important.
The jury choose “Fitness” performed by Mihaela Teleoacă as the big Star winner. Best actress went to Elena Lulia Colin for “Algernon” and best actor went to Ivan Vidosavljeric for Diary of a “Mad Man”.
My choices were Dumitru Acriş for “Hitler in Love” for the top prize, Ivan Vidosavljeric as best actor for Diary of a “Mad Man” and though being a feminist and wanting one of the women to win, no one for best actress. I really didn’t think that any of the women played with the intensity or truthfulness of either of the two guys mentioned above, nor had they as fully developed any of the other theatrical elements in a post-modern way as the two others had done. It was if most of the women were living on the surface of the work they presented, they had not really sunk into it. If I had been pushed into making a choice for best actress, it would have been a hard decision.
While Teleoacă in “Fitness” exuded remarkable warmth and broke the 4th wall to come into the audience so that we could really connect with her, her performance seemed flat to me, like she was perhaps a little afraid of committing whole-heartedly to her character. The white flat that was used to project somewhat fuzzy images that I didn’t get, even though they were visual, was underutilized. Her director didn’t have her really use all the stage space effectively. The set pieces weren’t all used to good effect. The big theatre that they put her in was far too formal for this intimate piece.
Török in “We Have the Same Story” was really too young to totally understand the material she was using. This gave her performance a surface quality of indicating rather than truthfully living in the imaginary world created by the playwrights. The set was too childish in design which did not work with the material. She is a good actress but seriously miscast in the part.
Colan seemed to take an almost cheap physicality to “Algernon”, playing the character as being physically crippled as well as mentally challenged, when the script does not say anything about the character Charlie being physically handicapped. I think the jury wanted to reward her for being able to hold excruciating poses, which is a very difficult thing to do as an actor. While I love the physicality of European actors as compared to their American counterparts, I think this choice was not grounded in the world of the play. I also think that part of her problem with the piece was that she had no director. Another set of eyes might have seen the beginning as being melodramatic.
The awards ceremony was also pretty dramatic, with
In having drinks with members of the company, I was surprised at how many of them thought that my choices were better than the jury’s choices. I can only think that perhaps this is a generational issue and had their been younger judges, (I was the youngest person on the jury I think), the vote would have been different.
Earlier that afternoon, I finally had time to sit down and talk with Gabriel about trying to get some American actors to enter this competition. We also spoke about trying to find a way to do some sort of collaboration, since we shared a similar aesthetic in the performing arts. Just as I was about to go so that Adriana could help him get washed and dressed for the evening’s ceremonies, they told me I couldn’t leave yet, that they had something for me! Earlier in the week they had given me a wonderful bottle of Romanian Pinot Noir, so I protested that they were being all too generous. This didn’t deter them from giving me an authentic Romanian folkloric outfit of hand embroidered underskirt, blouse, hand-woven material that was wrapped around the outside of the skirt sort of like a Polynesian sarong plus a woven cloth belted that held the outer skirt on.
After the awards ceremony, everyone piled out of the theatre and into the streets where a star with the big star winner’s name – in this case Mihaela Teleoacă - placed on the sidewalk outside the theatre and then about 20 minutes of fireworks to celebrate the end of the festival.
A party was held for the jurors, actors and theatre people after the show with food, homemade wine and vodka. The Romanians are pretty big vodka drinkers. I had been promised that Justin would play his violin for me at some point in time, so as the party wound down, I was brought up to the central hallway that connected all the actors’ rooms where they meet for coffee in the morning and drinks in the evenings. Not only did I get a great concert of different kinds of Romanian music, much like the music on the Transylvanian String Quartet CD (played by the professors he had in college) that Justin had given me earlier, but six hand-painted beautiful Easter eggs.
Then they pulled out a bottle of the homemade brandy that I had tried on the Sunday before at the fish feast. They wanted me to bring it to my hubby as I had told them he would have loved the drink.
Friday was getting to
Little did I know that the Tuesday TV interview was going to be shot at a Libyan restaurant called Saha and that after the interview, we were invited for a meal.
The Director of the company, Adrian Găzdaru came by before the interview was over and he spoke with the reporter for a while. All the jurors for the festival were there as well as my beautiful translator Adriana. One of the things they kept mentioning was the need for the city to increase funding for the theatre. Although they generally get more funding from public sources than we do at Beyond the Proscenium, times are tough and it’s expensive to produce theatre, especially when paying the actors as they do. The even provide housing for them upstairs in the theatre, which someone told me used to be a hotel before it became the city's theatre.
In this part of the world, one must always respect another’s hospitality, so even thought it was dangerously close to my interview and the show, our hosts brought out lemon chicken soup, hummus with pita bread, a salad of finely chopped vegetables with grain and Libyan white and rose wines. Then came the lamb, carrots and what seemed like couscous. I had missed the interview but
The show was “Fuck You, EU.ro.PA! by Nicoleta Esinencu performed by Yuko Fujisawa, a prose pastiche about a young woman dealing with conservative family values, her peers and politics in
Between the and shows, we generally went back to the hotel to have some dinner. We were given tickets worth a certain amount that we would use for our meals. One thing that surprised me was that I got used to the fact that no one uses ice in drinks. Even white wine is served at room temperature most of the time. After the show ended around , we’d all go back to the hotel for a glass of wine or beer and some having a desert or a meal if they hadn’t between the shows already. I don’t think I got to bed before at least on any night.
Tuesday’s show was Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez, one of
I was able to have my other translator, Justin take a message to Laura, the reporter for the newspaper requesting that we reschedule the interview for the next day, Wednesday. I also was asked for an interview by a radio reporter for the public station in
Sunday, April 19, 2009
The 9 pm show, not in the competition, was a national theatrical treasure Mihai Mălaimare from the Florea Masca Theatre from Bucharest. He and his pianist Mircea Dinescu were wonderful and obviously have worked together for years. Mălaimare did a little bit of tap dancing at first, then a couple of songs and bits, including one that involved trying to “catch” the moon (represented by Dinescu creating the image with the beam of a flashlight) with a broom. This bit eventually moved into the audience where, yes you guessed it, I became part of the show.
- As the moon shown on my head and he approached with the broom he asked me something in Romanian to which I blurted out, I wish I could speak Romanian right now! He replied, Oh you speak English, why? And of course I could not think of a witty repost quickly, so he just looked at me and replied for me, Just because! Yeah I blew my one theatrical performing moment in Bacău! Guess I had better learn more Romanian than my 10 “getting by” tourist words. He is an actor as well as a mime who trained with Jacques Le Coq. His mime work was wonderful and the audience begged for more with a standing ovation and he obliged them.
That evening I was approached by an English-speaking reporter for the local newspaper, asking me if I would be available to do an interview. I had been told that we had a TV interview the following day at 2 pm, so I assumed that it would be OK to make a 4 pm appointment with her which would give us 45 min for the interview and me 15 minutes before the 5 pm show started.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Our more than hospitable hosts t00k us (both the jurors and the actors who had been accepted into the festival) to a huge salt mine on Sunday said to be the biggest in the Moldavian region. A huge bus took us into the gray and white veined cavern, where we found an Orthodox Church, dedicated to the patron saint of salt mining, whose columns were made from salt. Beautiful chants were heard in the church. Romania as a whole is a very religious country with the majority of people being Orthodox Catholics. As we drove into the foothills were the salt mines were located, there were quite a few small glass or plexi “houses” containing either a statue of an icon of a saint or Jesus or Mary. There were also people in carts being pulled by horses! I think Romania is unique in that 18th century lives check by jowl with the 21st century of CDs playing in the car with the driver wearing a blue tooth device for his cell phone as we passed them. This is Justin sticking his head into a cut out of a salt miner.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Here I am in Bacau, Romania amongst some of the finest folks in theatre here. Everyone has been so kind and helpful and so forgiving of my half-remembered tourista phrases. My biggest thank you has to go to the best translator Adriana, a beautiful actress for Bacau's City Theatre and wife of the artistic director Gabriel Dutu and to the theatre's general director, Adrian Gazdaru, who along with a young actor named Justin drove from Bacau to Bucharest to pick me up from the airport. Doesn't sound like much of a feat, until you consider there are no highways in this part of Romania just two lane roads with passing lanes every once in a while. Took us about four hours with a stop for dinner at a great little restaurant where I feasted on sausage and polenta and some of the local wine.