PICTURES was the slogan of the ninth edition of the BABEL festival in Romanian Targoviste. The importance of building on the international theatertower BABEL once again proved the 2019 edition to be the most expansive.Already the prelude with the results of a five-day workshop of three Russian directors together with actors of the host Tony-Bulandra-Theater at three different venues could be seen.
Oleg Loevsky, who organized numerous theatrical laboratories and most recently arrived at the Masterskaya Theater in St. Petersburg, invited Oleg Eremin, Kiril Vitoptov and my beloved Dumitru Acris to Romania in the former capital of Wallachia. There, the three presented real wonders performed by the local performers.
Acris showed Russian theater school at its best with “Crime and punishment” in his contemporary, typically brutal-realistic style.
Oleg Eremin mixed puppet and real drama with “This Fay”. Kiril Vitoptov celebrated an outdoor triumph with a grotesque of a Balkan “wedding”, which strongly reminded one of the arrogant nonsensical Turkish habitus in Germany. Not only the actors were out of whack. Young and old were involved in the game with enthusiasm. And many did not know if this was theater or twisted reality.
Every event organizer would like to have such an opening: a show born in the theater that premiered three times for the premiere. Well done!
What’s up with this city?
Once Targoviste had been of great importance for today’s Romania, now abandoned off the tourist route less than 100 km away from Bucharest. Left, forgotten and quite sad are prefabricated buildings resting. If you go on searching, you will find in the second row still preserved, magnificent villas of Romanian architecture of the penultimate century.
Here time seems to having stopped, testifies to the former wealth of the bourgeoisie, spans a period between 1456, when Vlad III. Draculea saved the country several times from the Turks and 1989, when, following the verdict of a military tribunal, the ousted communist dictator Ceausescu and his wife were executed here.
For several years, the city has been starting with various attractions to attract guests to the restored historic site and bring in urgently needed funds: a Dracula festival, knight games and general tourism.
One of the most important activities is BABEL F.A.S.T, a theater festival of special provenance. “Here religion, languages and national politics play less of a role than building together an international infinite tower of democracy, diversity and friendship, getting to know each other and working together, and the artistic exchange between Romanian and international theaters: a good one and so far every year more successful endeavor created by manager and theater boss Mc Ranin and his small crew of Tony Bulandra Theater, “said Dieter Topp, President of the KulturForum Europa and a member of the Festival Committee.
BABEL F.A.S.T. (Festival of the performing arts) builds since on this “tower” since 2009 with annually different hangers. Shows, symposia and workshops are available to visitors and performers, including “elements”, “crisis”, “colors”, “body”, “sound” and in 2019 “images”.
Theatre from Ramnica-Valcea and Ploiesti represented the host country. From many other nations ensembles and monodrama performers took part, including the troupe IAPAR with director Aditi Venkateshwaran from India, non-verbal movement theater, a special blend of jazz-contemporary-Indian dance.
From Algeria, the “Knights of the Desert” and “Julius Caesar” came for the second time with a Shakespeare performance, the Englishwoman Emily Carding with her one-woman show “Hamlet” and the troupe Gabyun from South Korea brought “Family Lear”.
From Czech Republic, Pavel Knolle (National Theater Prague), Laterna Magica, presented “cube”, a masterpiece of motion and computer technology. Japan, Poland, Italy, France, Israel and Lithuania sent their actors. The latter surprised with “(Not) Children’s Game”, a staging of Albertas Vidziunas and theater Alytus. Here it paid the chronicler to make a stop.
Whooow a festival day
Fausto Paravidino’s story and the „Illness of the Family M” has been for Italy, what the Herkus Kuncius drama NO CHILDREN’S PLAY for Lithuania. Where the one still describes life and survival in gray suburbs of Italy, the Lithuanian dramatist goes one step further.
Kuncius and director Albertas Vidziunas also take a family as Pars pro toto in order to expose human togetherness on broad level. From household to the universal level in a block of flats, mercilessly open and taboo-breaking images of the reality of a “modern family” in magically realistic, caricature grotesque images.
Parallels to Marius von Mayenburg’s play “Fireface” came compressed in individual scenes. Similarly to Robert Wilson, individuality was taken from the characters for the sake of generalization by partly white or rigid faces.
The writer sees himself in an international ambience , but goes beyond and find his own statement in obscene, taboo-breaking language, supported by a skilfully strict directing (and very good actors!) In a stylistically simple yet visually stunning stage (Arturas Simonis).
Kuncius has banished the world of Paravidino and Mayenburg into the past and describes a highly up-to-date social level in digital age. Bravo to the actors, thanks to the theater Alytus.
Not all can be named. The Scottish Scott Johnson, who has been loyal to the festival for many years now, this time has developed theatrical remarks with his students from Edinburgh College and a workshop group of Romanian volunteers. This proved to be a perfect way to get young people excited about the festival.
Host Tony Bulandra’s theater with Tolstoy’s “Kreutzer Sonata” directed by theater director McRanin in a well-known Japanese expressive yet restrained manner, the interpretation of “Othello” directed by Suren Shahverdyan (Armenia) concluded the performances, which were surrounded by daily workshops, Lectures and discussions around this year’s main topic.
Babel in 2019 attracted young and old spectators.
An almost unmanageable number of young volunteers from pupils to students testified to the pedagogical significance of this festival. In a rare harmonious atmosphere for actors, stagehands, helpers and guests, the hope for a new, special BABEL 2020 was left… to be continued.
Written by Dieter Topp – President of the KulturForum Europa and member in the board of BABEL Festival
German version here: Kultur Forum Europa – kfe.de