Postcards from Romania: Crossing the Audience Border

Postcards from Romania: Crossing the Audience Border

This four-part series documents the experiences of a young, Fulbright fellow, avidly exploring theater and life in Bucharest, Romania.

During my first, jetlagged week in Romania I sat in a small town production ofThe Producers. It’s book and lyrics had been translated into Romanian, a valiant attempt, but as the play went on the audience around me grew steadily restless. The last chords were sung, the curtain closed and I, about to breath a sigh of relief, had my first experience with an unexpected phenomena. The audience burst into applause, rising to their feet, cheering and calling the actors back out to the stage at least three times. This was the same audience that moments before had been grumbling, walking out, checking their phones and updating their instagram feeds. I sat, dumbfounded, as they clapped for ten minutes, wondering if we had experienced the same show.

I soon found out that this wasn’t unique to that town or theater. Every single show I’ve seen, be it at the National Theater or in someone’s apartment, has ended with these long curtain calls, regardless of show quality, content or the size of the audience. The Romanian audience wants to clap and understanding the history of applause under Communism (simply, they did a lot of it), the roaring praise starts to make sense. Before ’89, theater and actors stood out, in a system where keeping your head down meant that you might survive. Theater was one of the only art forms that was able to get around the censors, because the beauty of the live performance was that it couldn’t be controlled night to night. Theater became a place for escapism and subversion and the audience looked for the symbols that would mirror their own anger against the regime (for a much more in depth discussion of the censors, check out Andrea Tompa’s article here. The audience could rebel by applauding, safe in a crowd. But even long after the overthrow of the Communist regime in ’89, theater audiences continue to practice an old ritual in a new system.

I sit in theaters today and I question who this contemporary audience is and if they find themselves represented onstage. The demographics of the audience are different, theater to theater, town to town; the National Theater attracts older audience members who go to be seen, the independent spaces usually play towards a younger crowd, similar to the Broadway, independent and regional audiences in the US. But the one unifying factor is that the work isn’t made for the audience, it’s made for the artist.

Theater has always been a high art with underlying class and elitist assumptions and if an audience member doesn’t understand the show, then it is their fault. However, the divide between the artists and the audience might in fact be hurting the makers, as young, independent theater artists now rely on ticket sales for their paychecks.

When I try to talk to directors, managers and actors about who their audience is, the first reaction is dismissal, the descriptor “uneducated” is used and the conversation stops there. Theater makers are taught to look down on their audience, but now that they’re all competing against accessible screens that don’t speak down to audiences, the artist might have to come down the pedestal. The discussion about developing a community or offering audience engagement is just starting to happen, mostly through Boal style community work. But these conversations can’t happen overnight and the Romanian theater artists are just starting to swing from an individual mindset towards a system of companies and community between the creators and the audience.

But here’s the catch. While in Romanian shows, I’ve experienced some of the most intense and exciting audience interactions I’ve ever had. I’ve been spit on, yelled at, thrown in the back of a truck and taken to an unknown location, dodged drips of kerosene as real torches swung above me, been covered in dirt, have had to run to get out of the way of a tar and feathering that happened on top of audience members and come face to face with my own claustrophobia. I’ve never felt taken care of through these performances; they are a long ways away from the cushy American shows, and things like aisle lights start to feel like a luxury, and I have to wonder, do we care too much about comfort and safety? It’s freeing to not have to worry about the audience, to not rely on their tickets sales and I wonder if this freedom might actually offer more in the long run. Has the American theater lost the sense of danger in live performance, in a world where making sure that everyone feels safe trumps the artistic experiment?

I am wholeheartedly in support of work that creates community between the artists and the audience, theater that gives a gift to its audience. I believe that this is the future of institutional theater in the US, work that cultivates its audience and balances the fine line between work that the audience wants to see and work that the artists want to make. As someone who comes from a small town that really loves A Christmas Carol, I have to believe that I can ask more of my community through the work that they see, that through theater they can be changed, physically, emotionally and ideologically. So I ask theater makers from both worlds: Romanians, more audience engagement, and Americans, trust that the audience can be pushed a little farther.

Romanian Cultural Institute's New Mandate Draws Protests in Europe and United States – NYTimes.com

June 26, 2012, 5:08 pm

Romanian Cultural Institute’s New Mandate Draws Protests in Europe and United States

By LARRY ROHTER

Over the past five years or so, the Romanian Cultural Institute has become an important force in global cultural exchanges, promoting writers, artists and especially the critically acclaimed cinema movement known as the Romanian New Wave. But the coalition government that recently came to power in Romania has ordered an end to that international focus as it tightens its political control over the institute, actions that have set off protests among arts groups throughout Europe and the United States.

Under an "emergency decree" handed down on June 14, the institute, a non-partisan entity that formerly reported directly to the president, now responds to a Senate riven by partisanship. Its new mandate: to direct its activities at the Romanian diaspora community. As a result, collaborations with American arts institutions – including Lincoln Center, co-sponsor of an annual Romanian film festival, and publishing houses specializing in translated literature — could be in jeopardy. And in recent days, organizations including the Museum of Modern Art, Film Forum and Melville House have sent letters to the new prime minister and other government authorities, urging them rescind the measure.

"The decree itself was a complete surprise, and we were not consulted," Horia Roman Patapievici, a physicist and writer who is the president of the institute, said in a telephone interview from Bucharest, the capital of Romania, an East European country with fewer than 20 million people. "But even more surprising was the shift in focus. Our strategy since I took over the presidency in 2005, has been that we should open to the outside world. Our aim is to relink the Romanian cultural market, cut off from the West, with the western cultural market, and in New York, you saw the result. We have been very present even though our material means are limited."

In an e-mail, the film director Cristian Mungiu, whose "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, described the government action as a "brutal intrusion of politics in the cultural life" of Romania that shows a "complete lack of respect towards the artists and intellectuals that were amongst the rare providers of good news about Romania in the last years." Mr. Mungiu, who is one of more than 3,000 intellectuals and creative artists to sign a petition protesting the new policy, added that the tendency of the new "political majority to remove all the representatives of the former regime from all public positions, irrespective of their professional capacities and results and to replace them with their own supporters, is unethical and encourages a certain kind of moral corruption that we need to fight against."

Asked why the government had ordered the change, Mr. Patapievici suggested that electoral politics play a role. Like the United States, Romania has an election scheduled for November, and since the Romanian diaspora is allowed to cast ballots, focusing on their cultural desires at the expense of the international public and younger, globalized Romanian expatriates "is transparently an electoral measure, to cajole their votes," he said.

But Mr. Patapievici also said that nationalist groups in the Romanian senate object to his "cosmopolitan" tastes and approach. He said that when he testified to the Senate's cultural commission last week, he was met with hostile questions along the lines of "Why don't you speak to national values? Why do you have anti-Romanian attitudes?"

The new situation in Romania resembles that of Hungary, where a right-wing nationalist government has also tightened controls over culture and freedom of expression. Romania differs, however, in at least one important respect: the new government there is a coalition between parties of the left and center-right, headed by Prime Minister Victor Ponta of the Social Democratic Party, which is associated with Ion Iliescu, an 82 year old former Communist apparatchik.

On Friday, the government ombudsman challenged the legality of Mr. Ponta's decree, arguing against it before the country's Constitutional Court. A ruling could come as early as July 5, and if it is adverse, Mr. Patapievici said he would "reject the political subordination" of the institute, which presumably means he would resign.

Mr. Ponta last week denied that he was shifting control of the cultural institute away from president Traian Basescu, his longtime political rival, so as to force Mr. Patapievici, an ally of the president, to resign. He said his actual objective was to depoliticize the institute's top staff and operations and allow more parliamentary supervision of its expenditures at a time when Romania is undergoing fiscal austerity.

"Putting the R.C.I. under parliamentary control is the democratic choice and aims to make the institution more transparent," the government spokesman, Andrei Zaharescu, sai
d. "Use of public funds must be above any suspicion and only through transparent and democratic parliamentary control this can be achieved."

With the political situation still in flux, American arts organizations that have worked closely with the institute have rallied to its side.

"The art world in New York continues to be amazed how this group representing a country whose population is a fraction of Germany, Britain and France and whose resources are circumscribed can be as effective and efficient as the cultural services of these other nations," wrote Lawrence Kardish, a senior curator at the Museum of Modern Art. In her letter, Alissa Simon, senior programmer at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, praised the institute for providing "a precious neutral space for international cultural exchange."

Corina Suteu, director of the New York office of the institute, which also has offices in cultural centers like Berlin and Paris, said the repercussions would be significant if the changes go through. "First of all, there will a return to archaic attitudes, with complete political control," she said. "The Senate can say 'I don't like this kind of art, you should present this instead.' But we have to present all kinds of Romanian culture. This is how we become visible abroad."

On The Move – Newsflash 10/2010‏

October 25, 2010

www.on-the-move.org is a cultural mobility information network that aims to encourage and facilitate cross-border mobility and cooperation, contributing to building up a vibrant and shared European cultural space that is strongly connected worldwide. On-the-Move provides international cultural mobility information, engages in research, capacity building and advocacy mediating between the network members, other grassroots organisations and policy makers.

Please send your mobility news and opportunities to the Editor: info@on-the-move.org

You are welcome to use this information for non-profit purposes.

EU News

Call for proposals and info sessions: "Strengthening capacities in the cultural sector" – People and Eastern Partnership Culture programme, 21 Oct/Brussels and 25 Oct/Kiev (deadline: 19 November)The objective of this call for proposals is to contribute to the creation of a political, regulatory, institutional and economic environment conducive to the strengthening of the cultural sectors and their actors as a vector for sustainable economic, social and human development.Call for proposals for flagship projects – European Year of Volunteering 2011 (deadline: 12 November)The purpose of this call is to support one or two flagship projects per Member State, which will receive a grant from the European Commission, in order to test and develop new and innovative schemes and approaches with a view to build long-term partnerships between civil society organisations operating in the area of volunteering. 

Grants for Mobility

danceWEB scholarship programme 2011, 13 July to 17 August 2011, Vienna, Austria (deadline: 15 December)The Scholarship Programme is a 5 week residency taking place every year in July – August in Vienna within the frame of ImPulsTanz festival. It offers around 65 young professional dancers and choreographers from mainly European but also from non European countries the possibility to take part in an intense multinational further training programme. 

Calls for participation

Studio 303 performances opportunities "In the Round" and "Mobilise", Montreal, Canada (deadlines: 15 November)Studio 303, a network of intersecting support and resource activities, providing a nurturing home base for independent artists proposes two calls for submissions for short works for shared programmes to take place in 2011.Salzburger Performance Tage 2011, 16 April, Austria (deadline: 15 December)Lange Nacht des Tanzes, a cooperation of ARGEkultur and Tanzimpulse Salzburg calls for productions for this event to take place on the 16th April 2011 in Salzburg, Austria.Open call for INVISIBLE CITY, May 2011, Schiedam, Netherlands (deadline: 8 November)Invisible City will take place in the beginning of May 2011. Artists and non-artists from all disciplines can apply with plans for new work or existing work. Working period: 10 days maximum on location.Call for entries danubeVIDEOARTfestival, March 2011, Grein, Austria (deadline: 1 December)Media and video artists from all over the world are invited to submit their works for the danubeVIDEOARTfestival #1 that will be held in March 2011 in Stadtkino Grein (Upper Austria). 

Training

Social protection of performing artists, 26 November, Brussel, BelgiumTraining session addressing the social protection of performing artists in Belgium from both an academic as well as a more practical perspective organised by the Faculty of Law – Clinics on EU Law 2010-2011, Leuven. Open Calls – Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, 16-26 June 2011, Czech Republic (deadlines: 30 October, 30 November, 15 January)The next Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, taking place in June 2011, 16-26, proposes several labs and workshops in a variety of performance design disciplines and genres – costume, stage, light, sound design, and theatre architecture for dance, opera, drama, site specific, multi-media performances, and performance art. 

Residencies

Community Arts Project Residency, Nka Foundation, Ashanti, Ghana (deadline: ongoing)Foundation Nka seeks submissions of creative projects designed to accomplish community ends. The Community Arts Residency project is a part of Nka Foundation’s Arts Village at Abetenim in the Ashanti Region (about 20 km from Kumasi), Ghana. 

Meetings

How to promote the mobility and internationalisation of cultural operators?, 23 November, Lisboa, PortugalThe International office of the Portuguese Ministry of Culture (GPEARI/MC) is organizing a seminar on the 23 of November in Lisbon to promote reflection on the main issues involving the mobility of artists and cultural operators as well as to disseminate among the Portuguese culture sector some of the networks, organisations and tools available to support internationalisation.Re:Imagining Cultural Space 17-19 November, Stockholm, Sweden (deadline for registration: 29 October)International conference and lab on the policy and practice of flexible art spaces and cultural organisations in Europe, organised by Intercult and Black/North Seas in collaboration with Culture Action Europe and Orionteatern (SE).Dance and Theatre from Europe. New impetus from the East, 5-6 November, Leipzig, GermanyIn the course of the 20th edition of the festival euro-scene Leipzig, this symposium plans to enrich the Europe-wide debate about artistic mobility and its disbalances stimuli and questions.International Conference on Creative Tourism, 9-10 December, Barcelona, SpainThe aim of this conference is to bring together researchers, urban planners, policy designers, artists, cultural activists and tourist professionals to assess the benefits of international collaboration in the rapidly developing field of creative tourism.Arts Funding – Artistic Freedom, European Council of Artists (ECA), 5-7 November, Zagreb, Croatia (deadline for registration: 14 October)ECA's annual conference 2010 to take place in Zagreb 5-7 November proposes to address fundamental questions such as: Is public funding a guarantee for a free and diverse arts scene? Is the market a possible way towards independent arts and artists? 

Competitions

5th International Art Prize Arte Laguna, March 2011, Venice, Italy (deadline: 16 November by mail or 10 December online)The International Prize Arte Laguna continues its course as "incubator of Italian and international young art", with the will to discover new talent, to support emerging artists in promoting their creativity and to develop their careers.18th Jeunesses International FLUTE Competition, 7-13 May 2011, Bucharest, Romania (deadline: 1 March 2011)The 18th Jeunesses International Flute Competition, 7 – 13 May 2011 is targeted at two age categories: up to 18 and 30 years old.The FutureEverything Award (deadline: 31 October)The FutureEverything Award recognises outstanding achievement for innovation in art, society & technology. It celebrates creative projects in any medium that offer a new and unique way to experience or see the world and help to bring the future into the present. 

Regional focus: Asia

Japan Foundation arts and cultural exchange programme 2011-2012 guidelines announced (various deadlines)The Japan Foundation supports exchange projects between Japan and other nations in three art genres: visual arts, performing arts and audio-visual arts as well as in publications and, in segments that enhance understanding of Japan through culture, cultural cooperation and civic/youth exchange. 

Mobility project space

Writers on the move, mobile traning programme (deadline: 7 November)The SPACE mobility project is providing a mobile European training programme for critics, journalists, theoreticians, who are writing about performing arts and who want to deepen their knowledge base and analyse and improve their work within an international context.Mobility Infopoint Mapping in ItalyThe study was carried out by Fondazione Fitzcarraldo, the Italian partner of PRACTICS, between 2009 and 2010.House for Open Mobility Exchange (H.O.M.E.)H.O.M.E. is a platform for self-organised non-formal exchange of artists working in public spaces.MusXchangeMusXchange aims at reducing a deficit in the training of young musicians resulting from a lack of support to short-term mobility programmes in professional orchestra and ensemble training.Artistic companionship throughout EuropeCompagnonnage artistique á travers l'Europe main goal is to create a network to provide structures for the spontaneous movement of artists and cultural workers and to improving their practices by encouraging them to acquire new skills through exchange. 

Resources

Artist Visa Applications: Arguments for SuccessHow do you argue when visa issuing offices and embassies continue to violate international recommendations and conventions? This Freemuse Quick Guide tackles various points set out in international conventions and recommendations to help you argue for smooth visa handling.Encouraging Collections Mobility – A Way Forward for Museums in EuropeEncouraging Collections Mobility is the ideal text for museum professionals, researchers and students who are determined to explore and research collections in order to open collection resources and learn more about European heritage.  

Don't forget …

The News and Announcements section is constantly being updated. This Newsflash offers a selection of current items. If you are looking for opportunities for professional mobility, check the site regularly so you don't miss any deadlines.

New links and updates

WE ARE MORE! Act for Culture in Europewe are more, a Europe-wide arts advocacy campaign (2010-2013) has been launched by Culture Action Europe this October.Crossing Borders: The state of artists mobilityA compilation of cases on the hurdles of artists mobility put together by three intersecting networks: Res Artis, freeDimensional and The Upgrade.

NewsFlash archive

OTM NewsFlash ArchiveIf you missed a newsletter or are looking for an item we featured some weeks or months ago, you can find previous copies of the NewsFlash here. These are presented for reference.

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On-the-Move was set up by IETM in 2002. It is now an independent international association, on-the-move.org aisbl. 

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German Centre of the International Theatre Institute
Finnish MinistryMinistry of Education – Finland
German MinistryFederal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media – Germany

Roberta Levitow

Andre Serban Traveling Academy at the Romanian Cultural Institute in NYC

 

 

September 21, 2009

 

 

If you have problems viewing this message in html format, go to www.icrny.org.


Dear friends and partners, 

You will find here enclosed the 2009 Autumn program-brochure of the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. The printed version is now available at RCINY.

Coming up: 

Don't miss the encounter with director Corneliu Porumboiu at his New York Film Festival premiere with POLICE, ADJECTIVE, as well as the opportunity to meet leading young Romanian actors working with theatre director Andrei Serban.

Looking forward to see you for these events, 

Corina Suteu
RCINY Director

[Brochure cover by Matei Branea]

COMING UP

MON, Sep 28, 9:15 pm & TUE, Sep 29, 6 pm I Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center

POLICE, ADJECTIVE at NYFF
For the second time in the last three years, Romania is present in the selection of the New York Film Festival: this year with Corneliu Porumboiu’s new film, "Police, Adjective", which will have its US premiere as part of the main slate of movies presented in the festival. The movie (an IFC Films release in the US) is this year’s winner of the Grand Jury Award and the FIPRESCI Award from the “Un Certain Regard” section at Cannes. It is also the official Romanian nomination for the 2009 Oscars in the foreign film category. The screenings will be followed by Q&A sessions with the director. READ MORE 


MON, October 5, 6:30 pm
 I Martin E. Segal Theatre Center

Andrei Serban Traveling Academy in NYC 
The journey of the Traveling Academy, started in 2007 under the inspiring guidance of acclaimed U.S.-Romanian theatre directorA
ndrei Serban
, continues this year with nine new actors and a second project presented by the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. Following a two-week summer residency in Romania, and a subsequent workshop in NYC (starting on September 25), Andrei Serban will lead his actors in a public presentation to take place at the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center on October 5. The event will be followed by the launch of the album "Andrei Serban. My Journeys. Theatre & Opera", the first retrospective of Serban’s career, in both theatre and opera. READ MORE 

Additional information about these events and our current calendar at www.icrny.org.

ROMANIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE IN NEW YORK
200 East 38th Street (at 3rd Avenue), New York, NY 10016
Tel: 212-687-0180 – Fax: 212-687-0181
icrny@icrny.orgwww.icrny.org

The Word PROGRESS on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True

by Matei Visniec

A surrealistic and deeply ironic look at a family of refugees, that returns to a place reminiscent of the former Yugoslavia.  Two young brothers-in-law insult each other across a road as they exchange news a new baby born to one man’s sister.  Refugees return to the land they were chased off of by a super patriotic Soldier.  A Father and Mother return to their old burnt-out home and begin to look for the body of their missing Son, so that they can bury him, mourn and carry on.  One Son seeks recognition by the Mother, who seems obsessed with locating the other Son.  Their old neighbors have secrets, and a new young neighborhood is selling bones.  The Father has no recourse but to begin to dig up the old stinking well, the backyard, the forest, and finally the actual burial site.  But, as the bones are dug up and placed on the kitchen table, the one and only Son brings home ghost guests to reclaim those bones.  We realize that the land is populated by both the living and the dead. And, so, we travel the same absurd and sad journey with the parents, who finally find their lost Son’s bones.  In a seemingly obscure sub-plot we follow the plight of a young woman, who in the final scene we understand is the sister (young mother) from the very first scene.

 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients

by Matei Visniec

The action takes place at the Central Hospital for Mental Disorders in Moscow in 1953, several weeks before the death of Josef Stalin.  A writer is sent into the hospital to use “art & literature” to redeem the mentally ill by telling them the history of Communism in a way that they can understand it (and be saved by the utopian vision of the future).  The writer begins his story (very funny the more one knows about how Communism was practiced within the Soviet bloc) as a subversive storyteller, using childlike language to recount the events, with all their absurdities articulated.  The deeper the writer progresses into his storytelling, the deeper he gets caught in the bizarre characters and events taking place within the “hospital”.  There are partisans lurking in every corner, including a secret cabal of “authentic revolutionaries” masquerading as mad (typical Soviet political prisoners) and meeting within hospital grounds unbeknownst to the hysterical doctors and nurses, fully invested in the cult of Stalin worship that the others reject.  When Stalin’s death is announced, he is given a choice to either join the group of “patients” or the group of “doctors” and for fear of everyone, he chooses the doctors, but general havoc ensues as all the lives propped up by the “story of Communism” collapse.  In the final scene, Stalin himself wanders by outside the building windows – as ghost or a mental patient? 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

Horses at the Window

by Matei Visniec

An absurdist journey through three centuries of war and destruction:  It’s 1699.  A Son leaves his anxious Mother to go off to war.  His Mother is informed of his mysterious death by a mysterious Messenger bearing red carnations.  It’s 1745.  A Father, in a wheel-chair, and his Daughter banter bitterly, in the same kitchen.  The Father goes off to his bedroom and the mysterious Messenger appears, again with red carnations, to inform her that her Father has gone mad fighting in battle.  It’s 1815.  In the same kitchen, a Husband/Soldier is dressing for battle as the Wife prepares the table for a sumptuous meal as he recreates the battle on the dining room table and rushes off to the war.  The same Messenger arrives, carnations in hand, to report his death by trampling.  As he recounts the waste of the Husband leading his soldiers to battle & then trampled to death by them in their fervor, a rain of boots fall on the Wife and ever-returning Messenger, who reveals he is the ever-dying soldier.

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

The Chekhov Machine

by Matei Visniec

 During playwright Anton Chekhov’s last days, as he is dying of TB, he is haunted by all the characters from his plays.  He interacts with them in imaginative scenes that extrapolate the characters moving beyond and outside the plays themselves and takes Chekhov through his own dying – death – dying, into his final state as a figure in a grey and empty Soviet-style wax museum (along with the rest of his characters).  The play is a philosophical contemplation (Visniec writes) of writing, death, and certainly other things – a writer who can no longer write, who is trapped and wandering lost within his past & his imagination, with no way to move forward in art or life.  In the ultimate scene, Chekhov visits with the character of infant Bobik, now grown into a man guarding the dusty Chekhov Museum – a vision of old culture lost, devalued and replaced by the demoralizing grey world of contemporary Russian/Eastern European life. 

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War

by Matei Visniec

In a series of both real and surreal vignettes, we follow the relationship that develops between two women: Kate is an American Harvard-trained psychologist working in Bosnia with those digging up the mass graves and recording atrocities after the Bosnian war; Dorra is a mute victim of a politically motivated gang rape (pregnant).  At first we believe that Kate is attempting to heal Dorra and she reports on her encounters with her in her diary, speaking with cool scientific detachment.  Dorra resists all communication from Kate and is only known to us when she is alone with her hate, anger at God, and determination to end her own life rather than life with the agony of her imminent birthing of a child.  Soon we realize that both women are institutionalized in this German hospital, Kate because of her own breakdown after looking at so many mass graves and trying to retrieve corpses and Dorra because of her unwillingness to return to any normal life.  In a series of scenes and monologues, the women’s scarred lives become intertwined in both expected and unexpected ways.  Ultimately, there is a surprising mutual redemption, leaving the audience with an oddly hopeful ending.  The ending is quite powerful despite the weight of the subject matter and the almost predictability of the character evolutions.  This is a credit to the playwrights’ ability to seek and find essential truth beyond the specific circumstances, giving the play a philosophical resonance and a true contemplation of the female experience of this brutal male practice.  

Matei Visniec was born in Romania in 1956. From an early age, he discovered literature as a space dedicated to freedom. He draws his strengths from  Kafka, Dostoevsky, Poe, Lautréamont. He loves the Surrealists, the Dadaists, absurd and grotesque theatre, surrealist poetry, fantastic literature, magical realism, even the realist Anglo-Saxon theatre. He loves everything except Socialist Realism.

Visniec studied philosophy at Bucharest University and became an active member of the so-called Eighties Generation, who left a clear stamp on the Romanian literature. He believes in cultural resistance, and in literature’s capacity to demolish totalitarianism. Above all, Matéi Visniec believes that theatre and poetry can denounce manipulation through "great ideas", as well as brainwashing through ideology.

 

Before 1987 Matéi Visniec had made a name for himself in Romania by his clear, lucid, bitter poetry. Starting with 1977, he wrote drama; the plays were much circulated in the literary milieus but were barred from staging. In September 1987, Visniec left Romania for France, where he was granted political asylum. He started writing in French and began working for Radio France Internationale. At the present time, Visniec has had many of his works staged in France, and some fifteen of his plays written in French are published (Actes Sud-Papier, L'Harmattan, Lansman). His plays have been staged in more than 20 countries. In Romania, after the fall of Communism, Matéi Visniec has become one of the most frequently performed authors.

 

The work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in London by the performance "The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield", staged at the Young Vic Theatre, in November 2000. The play received rave reviews in the British newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian. "The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt" will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival (August 2005). The production is by Rouge28 Theatre, London. In Unites States, the work of Matéi Visniec has been represented in New York, Chicago, New Jersey and Hollywood. 

Romania 21

by Peca Stefan

 The story of a Romanian family – before, during and especially after the 1989 Revolution. The dream of a father – Ion – to build the perfect Romanian family. The saga of a country on its way to European integration. All the cultural stereotypes regarding Romania and more – mixed with current social issues in a musical cocktail revolving around a “snapshot scene” structure.


Ion meets Mio. He’s a jazz musician and works for the Political Police. She is a prostitute. They wed. Ion turns in his father in order to get a house. Ion wants a daughter. Mio gives birth to two sons – Theo and Vic. To the sound of a gunshot, communism falls. Ion becomes a senator. Mio becomes a nauseous TV star. Theo sells babies. Vic is gay and expelled from the family all the way to Iraq, in the army. Mio gives birth to Fifi, a daughter. Fifi becomes a pop star and porn actress. She gets killed doing a snuff picture for Frenchmen. Mio loses her mind and gets committed. Ion loses everything. Talking to God, he finds out he has to integrate Romania into the EU in order to overcome the pain. With the help of Vic, his outcast son, he finally does that… the Romanian way. Happy end with all Romanians flying off to Heaven.

 

Peca Stefan is one of the youngest Romanian playwrights. At only 23, Stefan has already won the dramAcum prize (the Romanian award for best new playwright) in 2002 and has been produced at the Bulandra Theatre in Bucharest (the second largest theatre in Romania). Stefan's education includes New York University and Stefan was one of the Royal Court International Playwriting Residents in 2005. Other Romanian productions of Stefan's plays include :Showdown, New York [Fuckin’ City] and The Sunshine Play (MONDAY Theatre @ Green Hours, Bucharest)  I H♥TE HELEN (ArCub Bucharest), 2 scenes in Ana Margineanu’s production of 89, 89… fierbinte dupa 89 (Small Theatre Bucharest), Romania 21 (Arad State Theatre, Arad – in production), Station (Comedy Theatre, Bucharest – in production), PunamiNils’ Fucked Up Day (Bulandra Theatre, Bucharest – in production). The Sunshine Play had its world premiere at the Dublin Fringe Festival 2005 and earned 5 star reviews in Ireland. The play is also performed at the National Theatre, Bucharest, starting December 2005 and will be performed in Stockholm, New York, London, Marseilles and Belgrade in 2006. Peca Stefan’s play U.F. was translated and published in French and had two public readings in Paris and Lyon (2004, 2005). Stefan's play Romania 21 was in a roundtable at the Lark Theatre, New York, in November 2005. Stefan is the founding member of the BLA Theatre Company and has started the Scrie o piesaprogram for high school playwriting. Stefan is currently the head writer of the one hour drama TV series California(Media PRO Studios, Romania).