In the last century, Romanian puppet theatre has not only received, but it has also given to the world – which I would personally correct. Perhaps: “it has given to the world innovative, poetic performances that have brought about a new aesthetic vibe.” If you skim through World Encyclopaedia of Puppetry Arts (first edition published in French, under the title Encyclopédie mondiale des arts de la marionette, and second edition published in English, under the aforementioned titled, available online at: https://wepa.unima.org/en/), you will find more information on Romanian puppet theatre than you might expect. A complicated history that has been reshaped subjectively – as is the case with every history. And, given that Margareta Niculescu left this world on the 19th of August, 2018, I’ve decided to turn back to the pages 493 and 494 (from the first edition), as if going in a pilgrimage. For quite some time, I’ve been thinking of getting closer to her, all prejudices, myths and subjectivity aside; perhaps Matei Brunul1 has also helped; do shadows make way for themselves/do they follow us? In any domain, at any time, in any place. What matters is that you want to go back into the light, to free yourself, to be able to remember.
Carles Cannelas is a puppeteer who has a fine knowledge of the craft, an artist trained in the spirit of the creativity specific to visual arts, and of passion for shape and mechanism. His experience helps him dynamize his sculpture, control his emotions, and manage crises – onstage accidents. His gaze carefully supervises the state of the marionette, his fingers stroll through the strings with firm, yet delicate moves. He loves the character that was born out of his forty-year long experience that could be summed up by these numbers: tours on three continents, in seventeen countries, invitations to participate in two hundred and fifty-one festivals. His journey in the world of theatre has given him a mythical aura; in a way, there is an air of legend surrounding him.
The programme of Luceafărul Theatre in Iaşi announces a new premiere – A Japanese Story, created by Irina Niculescu and John Lewandovski. Watercolour images and live music invite us to a world of metaphors. The story comes to life under the viewer’s eyes; the hero offers his breath, his heartbeat, and determines them to follow him in his initiation journey, to take joy and meditate on it.
I watch what happens on the stage with the eyes of my mind and soul; it’s only this way that I can come close to the meaning of the Emperor’s words: “May victory belong to those who fight without ego!”. It isn’t a mere line, but a sort of confession; Irina and John have searched for a source, they have fought without ego, and they are following their path. I take advantage of this meeting and raise a couple of questions; Irina Niculescu’s answers are the mirror of a way built step by step.
The contemporary Romanian school has frequently been a matter of debate; contents, methods, strategies, manuals, authors, analytical programs - they have all been supported, debated, annulled and reconsidered. However… The Ministerial Order that has allowed, in 2012, the introduction of “Personal Development” in the curriculum has opened a path that has not yet accomplished its role of guiding students to themselves and to the optimal variant for the manifestation of their potential; this aspect has even been demonstrated by analytical programs submitted to and edited by well known publishing houses. Therefore, the present study is meant to open an efficient dialog on the necessity of a transdisciplinary and creative approach to personal development.
The academic polemics I’ve been having with Alice Florentin, my Doctoral student, regarding the ideal method for training acting/choreography students, necessary for them to approach dance theatre, brought us (once more) to the shadows of the demons that surrounded Teibele (and us too, perhaps), the contrasts of Salome’s world, the fascination of The Tropical Tree, the turmoil of the Love Stories, the unrest and fears haunting The Cherry Orchard and… the inventory of emotions could go on (beyond them, any approach would be useless). We wondered: “What is the secret? How does Alexander Hausvater succeed in determining the actors he works with to search/discover the giant within, to renounce their crippling fears and the numbness of the everyday? What are the steps the actors take to find themselves?” We knew some things about the (probably defining) periods of physical and vocal training, but we wanted to find out… the truth. Caught in the cage of the rigours of academic research, we dared and tried.
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.”