4 December, 2023
The spectacle ”The Siege of Venice” will be played in Croatia in March 2019 (foto: Theatre ”Tudor Vianu” Giurgiu)

The buildings in the Romanian city on the Danube are influenced strongly by socialism, but culture puts it not only on the Romanian, but also on the European map

Vladimir Mitev

How many citizens of Rousse know that a ”comedia dell’arte” play is directed by an Italian director on the stage of the theatre of Giurgiu? Are we aware that spectacles take place in Giurgiu in the weekend too, which differentiates it from a number of Bulgarian theatres? Do we know that the theatre of Giurgiu gives free tickets for Bulgarians and how many of us have used this opportunity?

A lot of people in Rousse might consider going to theatre in Giurgiu as a sign of pretence. The language barrier really exists. But the Romanian city has more to offer than cheese and meat at its market and memorial plaques, related to Bulgarian history. In the last years namely the theatre is one of the institutions, which realise social change in Giugiu and fight to liberate the citizens of this city from the strong feeling of “provinciality” and “vassalage” in relations with Bucharest and other big cities in Romania.

How many Bulgarian theatres play in prison, in hospital or in the rest home in their zone, as the actors in Giurgiu do? Where else, if not in Giurgiu, we could meet in the times of the annual International Festival of the Danubean Theatres a youth theatre from Serbia with a Bulgarian director or a theatre of the community from the region of Toscana in Italy, which gives sense to the citizens of the town Sarteano to live in their place of birth, loving the simple provincial life, instead of emigrating?

Even though Giurgiu is a region, known for its traditionalism, its theatre’s plays are modern. “Absolutely, Caragiale” recreates a scene from one of the classical plays of Romanian dramaturgy “A stormy night” by Ion Luca Caragiale. Two beloved young people start timidly a conversation, which reaches at the end a dramatic resolution – they either kill one another because of love, or submerge in the ball of the love play. This scene is played in the spirit of postmodernism four times in different historic times and in different social medium. First, the action takes place in XIX century among Romanian petit bourgeois. In the second variant the events unfold in Ancient Greece. In the third case the story is set in the artistic capital of the world Paris after the French Revolution. The fourth variant of the scene takes place in modern times, the protagonists being this time fans of rock music.

The play recreates successfully the universality of the story, told by Karagiale. It was mixed with pauses, in which “the director” of the play called on the scene spectators, who were asked to play short dialogues from the play. That is how spectators – mostly young people, which have come in order to spend a more special Saturday night, became part of the times, when Caragiale wrote his story. They not only played short scenes, but also read poems in Romanian and French language.

The team of actors of theatre “Tudor Vianu” is in constant change and renewal – some actors leave, new ones join the team. This contributes to the vitality of the whole theatre. All the actors are very young – below the age of 40. A large part of them live in Bucharest and travel in order to play in spectacles or repetitions. Later they continue their carrier in some of the biggest theatres in Romania.

But the theatre of Giurgiu also has its ways to be among the big ones. The spectacle “The Siege of Venice”, based on Albert Camus, has the Italian Michele Modesto Casarin as director. “The Siege of Venice” is defined as the first in the world “tragicomedia del’arte”. It deals with the problem of power and precisely, the authoritarian power, which wants constantly sacrifices. The appearance of Plague and Death as protagonists sets in motion the relations in Renaissance Venice, which guides the public to the message of the play.

All the protagonists in the play are hidden behind masks. The Plague and Death test people, subordinating the doge of Venice. They also put to test the main character, whom they propose to save the city from the plague though sacrificing his beloved. He refuses. But his answer doesn’t lead to unhappy ending. On the contrary, power understands that it is powerless and withdraws. The culmination is when masks fall. Then it turns out that all the protagonists in the play have human faces, and only the masks – their social roles, put them in power relation one towards the other. At the end of the day the capability to see beyond the masks, which other carry in real life, is the base of the full-bodied human life.

What hides behind the mask of Giurgiu’s gray buildins? People just like us with their stories, fates and struggles.

A few non-functioning malls and a sport hall, which had to attract Romanian clients and spectators were constructed in the last ten years in Rousse. But the flow of Romanians towards these buildings doesn’t happen. Perhaps some people have expected that the mere existence of one or another business project would provide with any effort interested customers with cash in their pockets. Do Rousse and Giurgiu need more human connections beyond their existing interinstitutional cooperation? Those tempted to know a more modern face of the Romanian city, can do it through theatre “Tudor Vianu”.

Masques down!

Read in Romanian language!

Read in Bulgairan language!

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