Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gala Star - Day 2

I did have an advantage with Braxton's show - I understood the language.  This year because of budget cuts (yes, even here in Europe) the festival lost two days and two judges.  This boiled down to me not being able to get the scripts in English.  I was an honored guest this year because of my efforts to try to get American actors to come and perform.

However, I must point out that I have been to many a performance in a foreign language and when you have good actors on stage and a good director, you will be thoroughly entertained.  One friend of mine told me that she once watched an entire movie in Hungarian and loved it, so it can't just be me.

The wonderful thing about my dear theatre friends in Bacau is that after every performance, one of the Engish speakers would come up to me and tell me the story and how it was created.  Many of the performers will theatricalize stories, parts of novels and pull material from other plays, sometimes combined with poetry.

The first performance was Radu Largeanu in "281" by Paul Goma & Radu Gyr (set by Filip Odangiu, directed by Odangiu & Diana Aldea).  The audience gathered backstage in a semi circle around Largeanu, who was dressed in a Bogart-style trench coat and hat.  He led the audience further back stage through a black passage way, lit by white votive candles and white writing on the walls.  We emerged into a small playing space surrounded by bleachers.  Largeanu was clearly an imprisoned man and as an actor he made good use of the grid that was flown down.  At one point, he began to literally climb the walls, as the set included small blocks for him to use.  Near the end of the 80 minute piece he lit more white votive candles on other blocks nailed to the back wall.

Roxana Pascariu has a description of the show on her blog here.  I was moved by the actor but Pasariu knew the language, so perhaps the actor wasn't being true to the script or maybe the directors were trying to put their spin on the text.  It was moving and I'm bummed that I didn't have even my little camera with me to take photos of the set, which I considered very effective.

Odangiu also directed and did the set design for the next piece, "The Temptation of St. Anthony" performed by Eliza Tuturman. She walked through the audience with her hair slicked back in what could be seen as a man's suit.  She used the set of gauzy lengths of material which almost looked like some kind of futuristic Arabic dwelling to great use as she did the costume changes needed for her to play all the characters in this play by Gustave Flaubert.  While I think that she did a better job on some of the characters than others (noteably the belly dancer representing Lust and St Anthony himself), the costume changes took too much time and broke theenergy and flow of the show.

For a variety of reasons, that evening's big show at 9 pm was the only one I saw durning the festival.  But what a great show it was!  Alexandru Repan and Mircea Diaconu starred in "Enignamatic Variations" by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. As I watched the interpersonal power shift from one character to the other.  Without the language you know that one of the characters truly wanted something from the other, then a subtle shift, then an emotional shift.  The character Repan played was the Famous Author (who was dressed to look like Ernest Hemingway in his later years to my eyes).  He was being interviewed by The Journalist about his latest book which was a love story and very different from his previous work. 

But all was not what it seemed as it was slowly revealed that the Author had an affair and still corresponded with the woman.  Then the Author learned that the Journalist was not really a member of the 4th Estate but the husband of the woman with whom the Author had his affair.  Then another twist was revealed when the Faux Journalist told the Author that his wife had died and he was actually the one replying to the Author's letters.

For those who have worked in theatre with me, I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I would love to see a copy of the script in English and then cast two women in the roles.  I see no reason why two women could not have the same emotional experiences as the men did on stage!

Unfortunately I was recharging my camera that day and I don't have any set or production photos.  But the next day Aaron and I walked around Bacau and I have this photo of a piece of public art and some graffiti that we saw next to it.  Wonder if it's a comment on the sculpture?

It reminds me emotionally of the "281" show.
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