The last festival Cluj-Napoca National Theatre participated in last week (10 November) was I Plead for You(ng), organized by the Youth Theatre, Piatra-Neamț, where the Cluj Theatre participated with Death and Reincarnation as a Cowboy by Rodrigo García, script and director Andrei Măjeri. In October, the same production was invited to the festival FEST(in) on the Boulevard, organized by Nottara Theatre in Bucharest. Here are a few impressions from the young director and three of the actresses from the cast.
"The production Death and Reincarnation as a Cowboy contributed to a powerful season opening, says Andrei Măjeri, with two performances at home (one with the participation of the author) and two on tour. The frequent performances further concretized the proposals of the four actresses and the performing spaces from Bucharest Piatra Neamț confirmed the validity of the production when faced with various audiences.
At FESTin on the Boulevard we performed in the Studio of the Nottara Theatre where we had, I think, the best performance so far. The different positioning with regard to the audience, our fears regarding the adaptation to the new space, as well as the excellent festival audience managed to highlight Garcia's text, and to make this non-narrative production very legible. Important Romanian theatre personalities attended the production and honored us with their positive reactions.
At I Plead for You(ng) we performed alongside the audience on the main stage of the Youth Theatre where, despite the performance being schedule on a Thursday at 5.00 p.m., there was a full house and great chemistry with the stage. Intelligent, attentive audiences, in complicity with the four actresses, managed to bring forth evenings filled with humor and great music, within the parameters of an extreme-contemporary dramaturgy."
For Adriana Băilescu, "the atmosphere in the two festivals was youthful, with eager audiences and full houses. Especially for our performances. In Bucharest we also performed in a small hall but with a classical configuration when compared with «Euphorion» Studio. In Piatra Neamț we performed on the main stage, alongside the audience. The spectators were warm, open and receptive, both in Bucharest and Piatra-Neamț. On these tours, I think rehearsals are essential. It is important to adapt to a new space even if you also leave room for spontaneity!"
Elena Ivanca declared: "Any new space causes discomfort, which determines one to be even more focused. Death and Reincarnation as a Cowboy is a text that I initially rejected almost viscerally, finding it hard to tame. Every rehearsal, and later, every performance was, in fact, a continuous search of a world which the playwright and the director imagined as unleashed. Slowly, I grew fond of it, at the same time aware that, in fact, something was missing. In the new space from Bucharest I have discovered new valences, new meanings. As if the text has become extremely clear for the first time. In Bucharest, the distance between us and the audience was bigger, which made me feel more comfortable. The energy between us was different. A better energy. As if we heard each other better, a monologue on for voices. In fact, the text is a monologue, but for the first time we felt as if we were each other's prolongations. The audience felt the most subtle nuances and reacted to the most delicate subtleties. Especially in Bucharest. We felt surrounded by beneficial energy. The distance actor-spectator vanished, as if we were a single body. As if the audience mysteriously belonged to the production. The audience is always a part of the production, but here I felt this more pregnantly and the rehearsal in a new space is like an alarm. Like a simulation of a state of emergency. You have to be completely devoted to this action. It is very important when you perform in a new space. In Cluj we perform on three sides, but both in Bucharest and Piatra-Neamț we performed frontally. In a new space a feeling of panic emerges and it activates all senses. It makes one more attentive and it brings forth something new, something different. It's panic because you abandon your comfort zone, what you know, and dive into the unknown. It's a new here and now."
Sânziana Tarța, who was also actively involved in two other productions presented within festivals this fall, Floor Covering and Our Class, stated that "they were actually four festivals... After FEST(in) on the Boulevard, we participated in the National Theatre Festival in Bucharest and «Toma Caragiu» Theatre Festival in Ploiești. In all cases, there was an atmosphere of celebration. For me, festivals are a great joy because they are an opportunity to meet with dear friends from Bucharest and other cities, actors I have collaborated with or former university colleagues and, at the same time, to see their performances. They are all people who love this job and who, through a festival, exchange «ideas» and celebrate the theatre. What can be more beautiful than that? The thought that the performance spaces had a different configuration than the one in Cluj didn't even cross my mind. We, the actors, on stage and the audience seated in such a way that they can see us. That's all that matters."
New experiences, confrontations with new spaces, beautiful meetings, new challenges... festivals always enrich us professionally, intellectually and affectively.