Last updated: 2010-09-10 20:41 EET
Romania has participated as usual in the Off section of the Avignon Festival. This year Romania held events spanning over one week paying tribute to 20 years since the Romanian Revolution

Between July 11th and 16th, the Bourg- Neuf Theatre in Avignon in partnership with the Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris and the “Jean Vilar “ House organised the event called “Completement a l’Est “. The idea was born due to a series of circumstances – as Dominique Fataccioli the director of the Bourg- Neuf Theatre told us:

“One of the circumstances was that last year we were contacted by producer Milo Rau, from Berlin, who did a research for the re-enactment of the Ceausescu couple ‘s trial. He suggested to us to present to them the result of our work in this year “s Avignon Festival in a video format because it is an expensive production. Then I was contacted by theatre critic Cristina Modreanu, who suggested to us to present her cultural magazine Scena.ro to talk about the present situation of the Romanian cultural scene. On the other hand, I staged the production “ Polenta “based on the text by a Romanian actress. I also talked to Simona Radulescu from the Romanian Cultural Institute in Paris who suggested to me some performances Romanian writer and actress.Ioana Craciunescu also worked together with us and suggested to me to collaborate for the Avignon Festival “

The stage direction, set design and costumes of the piece “ Polenta “ were signed by Dominique Fataccioli the director of the Bourg-Neuf Theatre, being based on the text by Romanian actress Codrina Pricopoaia. He told us about the Romanian, universal and contemporary character of the text

“Many elements of Romanian mythology and many moments from various periods of Romanian history are evoked in the text. On the other hand, this text is really contemporary. This means that it is universal, approaching all the dilemmas or questions of our time such as violence, the relationship between the actor, the audience, politics and artistic research. There are questions related to philosophy, environment or climate. It is about things which are about our time, about things which are affecting us. It is actually about us “.

Also during the event “ Completement a l”Est” the Romanian born theatre critic Mirella Patureau animated several meetings about contemporary Romanian theatre, debates to which professor and theatre critic George Banu, dramatist Matei Visniec, stage directors and dramatists Alina Nelega and Alexandra Badea were also invited.

This year, Romania was also represented in the off section of the Avignon Festival by the show “ The Universe in the Magic Lantern “ of the “Prichindel” puppet theatre of Alba Iulia-a town in central-Western Romania- staged by Radu Dinulescu which gave 23 performances on the stage of the 44 Workshop Theatre. The director of the Puppet Theatre of Arad for many years now, Radu Dinulescu has made a name for himself through a constant presence, particularly during the past few years, in the Off section of the Avignon Festival marked in 2007 by the Coup de Coeur de la Presse Prize for the production “ Hymnus “ staged at the Fani Tardini Theatre of Galati –South-Eastern Romania. “ The Universe in the Magic Lantern “ is a performance for the whole family from 6 to 99 years old as Radu Dinulescu told us :

“The show was well received, allowing us to make very interesting connections, because there were a few theatre directors present there. The director of the Belfort Festival also saw it and he bought it for the early March 2011.Then, the organisers of a festival in the Pirinei Mountains showed their availability to include us in their repertoire. It seems that we will also perform in Nimes.We intend in the following two weeks to write to all those who saw our shows and left us their business card.They are not ordinary spectators and they are selectors for theatres, festivals, annual programmes of some institutions buying shows “.

The presence of those uncommon spectators in the audience proved beneficial for theatre director Radu Dinulescu, especially after he had received the grand prize for “Hymnus”. Here is Radu Dinulescu.

“Practically, our greatest gain is having made connections there. At the moment, I have two major co-production programs underway with theatres in Paris. One of them is going on a world tour. I’m talking about “La Gigantea”, made together with the Les Trois Cles Company, featured on the ARTE television network a year ago, after the participation in Avignon Off. Just recently, they returned from a 3-week-long tour around Brazil, taking part in four festivals. They’ve already been to New Caledonia as well. Buenos Aires and Chile are next. So, overall, the greatest gain that you can get from Avignon Off is that people get to see your work, they like you or they don’t, you find partners for projects and co-productions, and you enter this cultural and financial exchange with the world.”

Other shows featured at this year’s Avignon Off included “The tightrope walker” from the “Mihai Popescu” Municipal Theatre for Children and Youth in Targoviste-Southern Romania, staged by Francois Jacob. There were, of course, productions staged by French directors based on three texts by Matei Visniec – “The word ‘progress’ uttered by my mother sounds awfully fake”, “Old Clown for Hire” and “The Garbage-Dumpster-man”. The piece “Pocketfull of bread”, representing the Metropolis Theatre in Bucharest and starring Oana Pellea and Mihai Gruia Sandu, was staged as part of the series of events held by the Bourg-Neuf Theatre. At Avignon Off, Matei Visniec held a public reading and talks on his poetry, which he wrote during his youth years, and is still unknown in France.

Avignon Off was born in 1963 as an alternative to the renowned Avignon International Theatre Festival. Every year, Avignon Off features hundreds of shows, from traditional theatre to dance-theatre, musicals, theatre-café, circus and pantomime. It is one of the world’s largest events of its kind for independent companies, and was held this year, between the 8th and the 31st of July, in some 100 locations.
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