director: Alexandru Dabija
set and costumes design: Cristian Rusu
original music: Ada Milea, Anca Hanu
stage movement: Florin Fieroiu
costume design assitant: Cătălina Chirilă
assistant director: Leta Popescu
stage manager: [Arhidiade Mureşan] / Ioan Negrea
lighting designer: Jenel Moldovan
lighting technicians: Mădălina Mânzat, Alexandru Corpodean
sound technician: Marius Rusu
Alecsandri makes us revisit, as Alexandru Dabija has also mentioned, the childhood of Romanian theatre, a childhood which invites today’s audience to be part of a game, to accept the convention of naivety, the exaggerated characters, the voluntary grotesque, since "in a country of dolls, the honesty of most rolls!". Of all the plays written by Alecsandri, Sânziana and Pepelea (written in 1881) seems to be the closest to this universe taken out of a fair puppeteer’s box. He significantly names it "a national fairy", mocking all the Romanian fairy tale characters and clichés and posting them in front of the deforming mirror of modernity, anticipating the avant-garde style of Alfred Jarry’s works.
50 lei, 40 lei, 30 lei, 20 lei, 10 lei (depending on the seat location);
10 lei - discounts for pupils, students, pensioners.
Audience award, voted on-line by the spectators of Cluj-Napoca National Theatre, awarded within the Cluj-Napoca National Theatre Awards Gala, 2014.
Special Award for Music for Ada Milea and Anca Hanu, and the Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for Ionuţ Caras, in the roles of „The Dragon" and „Old Woman Anica", at the Romanian Comedy Festival from Bucharest, 2014.
Production invited to the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, 21st edition, 2014.
Production invited to The European Performance Festival from Timişoara - Festival of Romanian Drama, within the Romanian Drama section (FDR), 2014.
Production invited to the 19th edition of the Arad International Classic Theatre Festival, 2013.
Nothing is arbitrary in this show, everything is coherent, quick and efficient, simultaneously polemical and gentle, unforgiving and funny; it is a witty depiction of reality, which has remained the same, just as it seems, from immemorial times. The convoy of the old women, the drunken priests with a penchant for worldly things, the couple in love, who have their feet firmly placed on the ground of courage, despite having their heads in the clouds (for the sake of convention) (Anca Hanu and Matei Rotaru), the Dragon (the exceptional Ionuț Caras!) & co. - they are all part of the tapestry, which captures the local troubles and the Balkan sins from before Burebista and Menelaus, as enduring as history itself.
It is not wrong, uncultivated or pointless to laugh at an entertaining, apparently "shallow" show like Sânziana and Pepelea. The point of this production is enjoyment. We are supposed to go home with a smile on our faces after this show, which never shies away from a spirit of carnival and mockery. While making us laugh, the purpose of the show is to also introduce a few more serious suggestions about contemporary mores and excesses, as well as the relationship between the value of the past and the value of the present, about love, family, politics.
Sânziana and Pepelea is a text with great potential, but it can also get stuck in an old-fashioned representation. In Alexandru Dabija's version, it is refreshing and surprising, becoming fully contemporary without missing a beat, in the most harmonious manner. Vasile Alecsandri's fairy-tale is organically reinvented. It becomes a grande histoire of our contemporary world, with its inherent beauty and flaws, with its hypocrisy, as well as its desire for beauty.
in Observator cultural, no. 489 (747) 6-12 November 2014
We might have expected a forceful "actualisation" of the theme and the characters, but the director did not want to go down this path or did not find the appropriate "switch" ... While Alecsandri and a grand constellation of Romanian thinkers and creators have pointed out the sacred nature and the grandeur of local myths, fairy-tales and characters, Dabija follows Caragiale's example - "I see enormously and feel monstrously", which also informs Lucian Pintilie's recent work and which focuses on the caricatures and the risible things in Romanian society.
in Luceafărul de dimineață, no. 2 (1056), February 2015
In the director's vision, Sânziana and Pepelea is more than a childish fairy-tale; it is read as a modern text, written primarily for an adult audience, making good use of the political satire behind the fictional world (...) "The main point of this show is enjoyment", says Alexandru Dabija. Well, the director must surely be pleased with the result. Coming out of the theatre, everybody was humming the songs written by the two composers.
A singing Sînziana and a Pepelea who plays the bagpipes, in a series of delightfully humorous situations, in which we can witness the actors' enjoyment of their craft - this is Alexandru Dabija's specialty as a director. As for the cast, they are fully engaged in performing these playful conventions, producing a dynamic show, full of impressive music and choreography. Classical and modern; a fairy-tale, an extravaganza and an allegory, mythology and superstition and a lot of high-quality humour.
Michaela Bocu, Invitaţiile Naţionalului: Sînziana şi Pepelea / You are Invited to the National Theatre: Sînziana and Pepelea, in the newspaper Făclia, September 24th 2013
[The preview], which was the last show of the previous season, in July, is called "Sânziana and Pepelea" (...) Who else could have directed it but... Alexandru Dabija, this homo ludens whom I sometimes picture wearing both traditional leather sandals and a top hat, twirling a branch instead of a magician's cane (this happens when I let my imagination roam without hesitation or censorship) and holding, in his other hand, an egg - but not a dogmatic one.
Dabija laughs at everyone and everything. At bigotry and gossip, at excessive prayers and rituals, at stupidity, at the ugliness of bodies and souls, at arrogance and the overestimation of one's physical strength. He celebrates intelligence and pays homage to love, which conquers all. He tells a story about a boy who loves a girl, about a handsome young man who does whatever he can to marry an equally beautiful girl, who is helped by people, by nature, by fabulous creatures, by fate. Dabija laughs and wants to share his laughter with us, working with an exceptional, highly skilled cast.
Mircea Morariu, Generosul Alexandru Dabija / The Generous Alexandru Dabija, in Teatrul azi no. 11-12/2013 and Familia, series V, year 49 no. 11-12/2013
Sânziana and Pepelea was directed by Alexandru Dabija at the "Lucian Blaga" National Theatre (...) It appears to be a great success. An innovative approach, which transcends Alecsandri's classical satire, addressing our national vices, which still haunt us today, and making our Levantine confusion not only likeable, but also frightening - when it comes to a people that combines faith and superstition, trickery and wit, laziness and poetry, wine and water.
The director Alexandru Dabija rewrites for the stage this extravaganza and brings forth certain aspects related to our contemporary mentalities, rooted in an archaic and popular cultural corpus. He does this through his characters, taken from the Romanian folklore and imagined by Alecsandri as part of a comical-parodic atmosphere. In the show, Dabija proposes a grotesque-comical satire on Romanian fatalism, spreading from individual to individual, until it contaminates our social structures and institutions.
With the explicit purpose of general amusement and with the implicit purpose of his own amusement, Alexandru Dabija (alongside assistant direct Leta Popescu) plays the game of Sânziana and Pepelea at the National Theatre of Cluj. Playfulness and games at the same time, because this highly dynamic and imaginative show - in which the director unleashes the chaos of whimsical associations and ideas - also observes certain implicit rules which determine its course, ensuring its coherence and clear direction.
Dabija's show, produced at the National Theatre of Cluj, is a musical fairy-tale resembling a comic opera, which manages to become a true "national extravaganza", being both contemporary and faithful to the original; it is a parody, a comedy, a satire, a musical, a piece of social theatre and an opera bouffe.