Bulgarian comes back to the theatre

To be honest, it seemed that the Bulgarian theatre after the political transformation will be in emptiness. New times, new challanges, another rhythm of life call the past of the realistic Bulgarian theatre in question.
English translation of Polish original version published in Yorick no 17.

The Bulgarian theatre separated from the world by the censorship is just jumping to take the plunge and make a fresh start. Before the viever comes back it costs a lot of time. According to the sociological reasearch less than 20 percent of Bulgarian feel like contact with the theatre now. It is clear, that they exchange the old banner with the words: The theatre for everyone for the banner: The theatre for the elite. Who knows, may be that's a good idea. Nobody wants to be meatball. But to be a member of the elite – everyone.

If the artists want to achieve it and atract the viewers to the theatre they have to provide their plays with the audience, which the field is history, classics and the fundamental emotions and clear play. It was possible to confirm during the Bulgarian show-case in Sophia, that was showed the critics from all over the world when their congress was organized.

History plays: Outcast

Drama by Ivan Vazow (to be honest – the theatre adaptation of his short novel „Expect Outcast”) was the very beginings of the Bulgarian playwritings history in 1904. The new production of this drama in The National Theatre 100 years after the first night was exciting for the audience. Aleksandr Morfov's mise en scene turned out to be a little bit provocative. Instead of the patriotic celebration, unbearable pathos of  the story about a long way to the independence Morfov has built the bizzare, eclective spectacle in postmodernistic spirit, in which various issusies of seriousness, humour, folclor, irony, lirics and pathetic tones were coherently mixed. Thanks to this mixing the old, mummified play by Vazow has came alived i became reexciting and its actors have named the bang (in Bulgarian „hysh”) and culted. By the way tthe actors fan these flame themselves, they talk about them they are independent, rebellious and stubborn, and demonstrate pub-crowling together in Sofia by night, going to the theatre and mythologizing their bohema luster.

Psychological plays: The Dance of the Death

Outstanding work by Strindberg, The Dance of the Death, was produced by Laboratory Sfumato, that it used to be provide the creative searching of the new forms of expression describing the human being's situation in the struggle with civilization. Its cofounder  Margarita Mladenova, director of the spectacle, a little bit  inspired and bombastic is able to talk about civilization risk for hours – the theatre is for her one of the last flanks of the defence. The Dance of the Death was interpreted by Mladenova as an absurd play – she directly indicates Final Act by Beckett. This spectacle aimed against the tradition of the psychological theatre demonstrates the growing of fear, specificly mixed with the kind of the comedy of the selfdestruction, that heros like the pupets plays the roles of the destructors of their lives. Hence their overmoves (Edgar literaly drags along his body or has a mad shows deformed drill),  overinterpretations, general excess and „crescendo.” From three heros only Kurt dosen't seem to become entangeled in selfdestruction mechanism and may be it is the reason why he is less clear character and why he has some chances for help – he is only one who stays alive and leaves the terrible island. The wife and the husband stay on the battlefield and their finally giggle (ambigous and tragic) brings in the distance, that it even more lighten the absurd od the existance. Theatre Sfumato is well known in Poland – the group presenteted „The White Fleece” in Studio Theatre in Warsaw some years ago.

Classics plays: Macbeth

The spectacle of the Rodope Dramatic Theatre from Smoliana directed by very young ambitious artist, Diana Dobreva (that is the second poffesionally directed drama in her life) is a freak show. The director would like to give a high battle between good and evil, but in fact she presents a bizzar fantasy strip for children instead, there is full of the samurai, operas, slapstic bscenes and so on. Even if there are the beautiful scenes, its don't fit each other (with the exeption of the fenomenal using of the ropes, which are a forest or the church's bells or the decor of the royal chamber).
The actors don't show any proffessional posibilities and the most important, great monologues of Macbeth run aground, drowed in smoke and mirror. The rest of the text sounds like from a playback, there is too much sounds effects, too much light effects (for example red light in the  scenes of the death) and so on. Unfortunetly the performer playing Macbeth is powerless. By the way that Scotish story coudn't us care less. Shortly put – a total flop. Bulgar papers took the performance well but they overestimated it.

Emotions plays: Dady's always right…

The beautiful show on Andersen's tales, outstanding its clear and charming form. It is a work of very talented actor couple, Nina Dmitrowa i Vassil Vassilev-Zuek, who created the performances together for the ages (they have in their repertoire very impressive „Coat” by Gogol, aplauded and awarded in Poland on the Contact Festival in Toru – 1998). They founded the private theatre Credo 15 years ago and work from the very begining with the great succsess. This story about old couple, who are very strong loved each other and they are able to forgive them everything even the biggest foolishness, full of humor and the bravura performance entertain not only children. Everything on the stage drove in the Scandinavian white, the actors unfold the cotton bales (as white as fresh-driven snow, of course), muffled up in white clothing like Escimo. This charming spectacle we have already seen in Poland during the Puppet International Festival in Bielsko-Biała.

Passing play: The Quake

The one man show by Marius Kurkinski, the oppenning night of the showcase, is closly connected with the overtone of the most of the presented performances. Show Credo is an humanistic story about one silent man, born in the forgottable village. The production was realized on stories by Nikolai Haitov and the first all it is the bravura performance of the actor but conformed to the main idea of the work: it is a story about the lonely man looking for the survival. Dosen't he has any chance to comprehand his own experiences and keep himself in somebody's memory?

Pure play: Rythm and blues

In closing –  a tipical medley skilfully composed of evergreens from Bach, The Beatels, ABBA  to Manhatann Transfer. Music motifs treated with the sense of humour, charming and tasteful. The music show conducted by famous Bulgarian composer, proffessor Rumen Tsnonev, production of The Theatre Bihind the Channel, which offers two hours of the unpretentious entertainment.

The Bulgarian theatre is looking for its identity in the new historical circumstances. As Bulgarian speak their theatre does hastily away with the past, esspecially with the tradition of Stanislavsky's methode, and reduce a backlog in dialogue with West drama. But now it's high time for filtering new experiences and trying of the designation own way. It becomes already, but there is too early to fix in which way Bulgarian could connect the tradition of the solid realistic theatre with the eruption of the experiments, not always under control. The audience kindly observe these searching, every night we can see standing ovation after show and the young people fill the house. From time to  time a performance is  overaplauded, but the aura like this stands the theatre in good stead.

Tomasz Miłkowski
transleted by Stanisław Tomaszewski

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