Theatre as living art, the central purpose of which is life, existence, that is, that can perceive matter as a set of images, a meeting point of the spirit with matter, enters the realm of memory, when it requires precise indications necessary for the scenic representation. Memory is a living organism, it is the warm fire of preparing theatre. We perceive Hamlet acting on stage because we remember that perception. Hamlet – the one that we will see in a few years, in a completely different time, in another geography, will be perceived, criticized, understood, by evoking the memories that have survived or have been adapted, transformed, reinterpreted. The memory facilitates the meeting between the actor and the character, the memory facilitates the meeting between the director and the text, between the director and the concept, the memory brings the playwright face to face with his work. In the The Misunderstanding, Albert Camus imagines psychological dimensions where memory plays the role of central mechanism. We are face to face with the absurd man, who through the awareness of death and crime meets his truth, but at the same time we discover a dissociation of the characters that, despite their rigidity and coldness, maintain the appearance of a structural and functional fluidity. The dialogue has the resonance of a frequency that vibrates from the river of collective memory. The individual memory has split and is to be absorbed by another memory, one of the theatre, a universal memory, a memory of a theatre that was born from memory.
The dramaturgy and the essays of Maurice Maeterlinck are the starting point for essential changes in the art of theatre representation, marking the transition from realism, which had become naturalist, towards a theatre in which the essence and theatricality conduct to a revitalization of the theatre. The Russian directors V.E. Meyerhold and K.S. Stanislavsky are two of the most important theatre personalities who have searched for the new forms of theatre. Analyzing the first steps of Meyerhold’s directing, it is easy to see that the symbolist roots of theatre making can be found in the French theatre art, also inspired by Maeterlinck. Stanislavsky, the master from The Moscow Art Theatre, was also the first director to stage The Blue Bird, before the text was even published. We shall follow, in the next pages, fragments from the Russian theatre which refer to these episodes.
The actor, through his/her memories, images and own representations, will confer the perfect resonance to his/her gestures and scenic actions. Linked to the performance, the representation, the mental images and the internal view give life, uniqueness, beauty and truthfulness to the part, construct the scenic imagery in an expressive and original manner. The actor, in his/her creation, uses on one hand his/her memory (sensorial, visual, auditive, gustatory, olfactive, kinesthetic, imagistic, voluntarily cognitive, involuntary and affective) and his/her past experiences and, on the other hand, sensations, perceptions, representations and reproductive imagination. Memory and imagination, the representations and mental images, thus become primordial tools in scenic creation, having the extraordinary power of updating on an intuitive level, relevant and significative, the actor’s experiences. If through memory the actor has the possibility of reproducing, evoking and experiencing sound, image, situations, spaces, circumstances and relations from his/her prior experience, through representations, images and his/her reproductive memory, he/she detaches him/herself from this concrete reality and is able to create a new world, imaginary and fantastic. The actor has to be aware of the tools he/she works with, has to develop his/her flexibility and the mobility of his/her imagination through the reconstruction and recombination of certain representations, by elaborating images: evoking an image, studying it in detail, completing, developing and direct influence of the image through subtle intervention, suggestion and collaboration, as to incorporate it in his/her scenic performance.
With the Lazarillo published anonymously in Spain in the 16th century, the romantic adventure changed paradigm and emancipated itself from the novels of chivalry. For Jean-Pierre Sarrazac, this picaresque novel brings a new voice to the theatre and modern drama that will evolve into a fundamental novelisation that will take off from 1880. This text was for a long time attributed to the humanist Diego Hurtado de Mendoza y Pacheco and the list of suspects is long akin to this “rhapsodic impulse” those multiple voices that each give a different interpretation to the same text, and that Jean-Pierre Sarrazac exhibits in his book Poétique du drame moderne, de Ibsen à Jean-Marie Koltès (2012). In this investigation of the Lazarillo, the modern drama, from the death of Hurtado in Madrid in 1575, will explore in substance and form the paradoxical question of drama in opening the doors of perception to fictional characters who are also gifted with life, if not our life, in a world where the true and the false mix while the opposing forces carry humanity towards a destiny worthy of Orwell’s 1984, but in the echo of the drama, the voice of the rhapsodes continues to resonate.
The aim of this article is to identify the role and the identity of the young Romanian dramatist within the context of the collaborative theatre in our country. The main means of research have been the interview and the participatory assistance by actual involvement in the making of a performance. We started from the premise that the difficulties met throughout the work process begin as early as the study years at the faculty, as a result of the lack of communication between the departments from the Faculties of Theatre.
In the spring of 2017, we had the chance of receiving several unpublished documents from actress Sorana Ţopa’s personal archive. Recovered by Mrs. Lucreția Angheluţă from a dark cellar in Bucharest and generously given to us to help our doctoral research1, the handwritten notebooks and typed pages help to shed... light both on the actress’ personality and the image of an era. Here are some of the pages from the manuscript Journal, fragments through which one can better see Sorana Ţopa’s personality, her reflexive abilities, her capacity to scan the relation human – destiny – era. With the hope that, one day, the Journal will be published in its entirety, we hence begin a project of restitutio in integrum – which we find both natural and necessary in a time when values are being overthrown and those who strive to start an artistic (or other type of) career feel the increasingly inequitable fight with the pressures of the socio-economic system. Reading these pages, one understands that freedom of spirit cannot be crushed by any political regime, on one condition: being aware of the fact that “becoming an easy prey for these masters of pulling ideological strings would be proof of downright superficiality and gross immaturity”. And maybe there is something else to be understood: any of Thalia’s servants’ chances are based equally on talent and the reading of profound pieces of writing. Beyond the pages of the Journal, there is the... telling silence of doubt. “Your eyes, becoming more accurate, clearer, could reflect the entire deposit at once; that is, you could have a clear image of the entire process and of the most intimate structure of this self. And if the eyes are not completely open, completely untouched by any intervention of the wish to see clearly and also of those obscure reactions that automatically appear from memory, then of course the state of fog persists somewhere, springing from who knows what corners of the consciousness that have not yet been cleared.”
Most of the writings of actress Sorana Ţopa are rather unknown. The abridged editions of some of the plays that announced the two inter-war trilogies, Ciclul vieţii (The Cycle of Life) and Ciclul morţii (The Cycle of Death) prove that Sorana Ţopa was more than a beautiful, expressive, mysterious actress. Her texts are filled with questions on the actor’s state and destiny. The meanings of her plays are less accessible when read alone; the pages of her diary, the transcripts of her conversations bring forth the figure of a restless actress, an analytic spirit; her questions seem to still be searching for answers.
In fact, the analysis of the unpublished documents that were generously offered by Mrs. Lucreţia Angheluţă to the Research Centre at the Faculty of Theatre at George Enescu National University of Arts in Iaşi prove that Sorana Ţopa can hugely help us in retrieving the memory of a time that is still insufficiently known, one that was intensely lived by the Romanian theatre, the first half of the 20th century.
Theatre can also be viewed as a collective archive that we go to when we need to better understand the world around us, artistic movements and trends, the state of mankind. Each participant in a theatrical act, whether spectator or creator, loads it with emotions and, therefore, with memories. Theatre, in all its forms, strengthens communities, and theatre festivals are a very good opportunity to popularize theatrical productions, from the level of some small communities, to the macro level. Diversity is an essential ingredient for stimulating imagination and a better understanding of an area of interest. This is why a theatre festival with international coverage, such as the International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences in Iasi (FITPTI), should make for its audience as many referrals as possible to the context and artistic life of a community as a whole. In order to achieve such an objective, in addition to the scenic representations, theatrical exhibitions, book launches, interactive installations, theatrical critique seminars, residences for young playwrights, reading shows are more than necessary. If we refer to the collective memory enriched by theatre, we could say that theatre shows have a short life. But, most of the times, those that really have a major impact and their creators are also found in books. And, it is known, books have a much longer life. FITPTI organizers understood this from the beginning and gave the theatre book an important place in the event.
In the text bellow I try to approach a very problematic relation between theatre critic and memory. Is the memory of a performance a valid barometer of the inner value of that performance? How does the theatre critic’s memory work? How do we define and manage forgetting or the absence of memories in theatre?
Theatre criticism deposits an important part of the memory of theatre, compacting the rhythm of the life of theatre. It represents a genuine collection of opinions/critical comments on acting, directing views, repertoires, set designs, costumes, and it manages to create an image of the world of theatre. It helps us become timeless viewers of still images portraying the profile of Romanian theatre in the second half of the 19th century. A mirror of its time, the theatre review allows us to understand the practices, opinions and values of that time, and to analyse the extent to which they might be functional nowadays.