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02.27.2018
„ART MADE WITH HONESTY ASKS QUESTIONS INSTEAD OF GIVING ANSWERS” - INTERVIEWING THE MUSICIAN VLAICU GOLCEA

The most recent production of the Hungarian State Theatre in Timișoara, the musical Dancer in the Dark (opening: March 3rd 2018) has an original musical score composed by Vlaicu Golcea
Having recorded more than 30 albums in Romania and abroad, with numerous concerts in most European countries, the composer and performer Vlaicu Golcea has composed music for more than 90 theatre productions. In 2009 he received the Romaian Theatre Professionals Union (UNITER) award for theatre music. Vlaicu Golcea's first collaboration with our theatre was for Don Juan şi Faust - directed by Alexander Hausvater (2005), and then Incendii - directed by Radu Alexandru Nica (2014).


How generous is the text of "Dancer in the Dark" for musical inspiration and how much has the director Kocsárdi Levente influenced the musical direction of this performance?

There was more than one reason why the theme of the text stroke a cord with me. I started from the personal belief that nobody can have the slightest clue about what is going on in anyone's soul. The need for art seems to be as old as humankind. Who can say what the music in Selma's soul sounds like? Who can say what is the sound of her dreams? Why does she need that? What are we capable of in order to make our reality seem better? What is more "real" and nourishing - the everyday life or the dream? How does the fiction of a show (musical, TV, film, etc...) function as a defense mechanism against the absence of morality, logic, humanity and the oblivion of everyday reality? What does it mean to lose one of your natural senses and how can you compensate by using the others? What is the meaning of EVERYTHING? These were just a few of the themes the text offered. I believe that art made with honesty asks questions instead of giving answers ...

I talked to Levente long before I started composing, which means he participated thoroughly. We have known and respected each other for many years.  I really appreciate that he gave me complete freedom (artistically speaking of course), which also brings uncomfortable risks... :) 

 

How does the music of "Dancer" depend on the theatre company's singing abilities, considering that you know the actors quite well? 

I had to adapt to the actors' abilities, not the other way around. I think I learned that 20 years ago from my friend, the choreographer Florin Fieroiu, who back in the 2000s introduced me to performing arts and new ways to produce, organize and listen to sounds.  Working with the „client's fabric" is the precondition for authentic collaborations, considering the dominant mentality that the number of produced performances is very important (the cheaper... the better...), as well as having as varied repertoire as possible, as opposed to the progressist need to offer SOMETHING DFFERENT. I don't even want to mention the experimental performances which should be mandatory for state-funded theatres....

Musically, I can only compliment the actors... and apart from appreciation, I have profound gratitude and respect for Magyari Etelka, the essential element for this performance to be created in such short time. She is a rare kind of artist, demonstrating professionalism which is very rare nowadays, and I am glad to have spent two months with an artist who takes her work so seriously.

 

What did you like/dislike while composing for Dancer, a performance in which music represents an essential element, not just support for acting? 

My profound artistic and personal motivations were the following: I was interested in the way in which musical content changes depending on accents and word order, as Hungarian and Romanian language have very little in common :). I am very impressed by the work of Bartok Bela (who I believe is an underestimated genus of 20th century music ...), so dwelling in the Hungarian universe was more interesting and creative. In the same time, I wanted to test how music is a universal language, so the score of the performance has different flavors from all around the world.  I was also interested in exiting a „safe area" in order to function in a new paradigm: a language which is unfamiliar and its theatrical subtleness, as well as fighting against a certain „taste" and preconception about how a musical „should" sound like in Hungarian. At the same time, I wanted to question POP clichés and how we can alter them without using their power. Another thing was raising the bar regarding the content and quality of the sound of a musical product which is presented on a theatre's stage. Last but not least, I want to invite theatre producers to hire local, living, music composers, instead of furiously fighting to pay for royalties for already composed music, which is not cheap.  In the Western, "civilized" world, commissioning an artist to compose music for a performance is something normal and to be proud of...

 

You are expressing yourself as an artist in several art forms (stage, film, performance, studio records, different genres), so which directions you wish to explore in the future? 

My own performance-installations. 

 

What is the ideal theatre project you want to take part in? 

One in which I can find professionals and well-meaning people in all departments. That is impossible in Romania.

 

How can we un-teach the 2000s generation who is listening to bad heavy-rotation music? How does their limited musical education influence the reception of music in theatre performances?

We cannot un-teach them and I don't see why should we. And - who are WE to do so? We are a minority. The world is what it is. 30 years from now we will talk about Beyonce just as we are talking about Queen, Led Zeppelin, Beatles, ABBA and Pink Floyd today. Things will have an evolution in one way or another... the problem is not the lack of education, but not being exposed to SOMETHING DIFFERENT. The state-funded cultural institutions SHOULD HAVE THE OBLIGATION to do that. The situation now is that current cultural policies are offering spectators, who left their homes and TVs to come to the theatre, the exact same type of performances they watch on TV. The audience is not guilty of not having alternatives.


What do you do when, in the middle of rehearsals, it becomes clear that the performance will be bad, but you composed some great music? Are there any collaborations you regret from the tens of performances you scored?

The only collaborations I regret were the times I met people with serious social and empathic issues. Otherwise, art is always like „ballet" on thin ice. It is the product of many factors and very complex situations (which many times have nothing to do with the subject and object of the artistic work), therefore it can only be subjective.  Who gets to decide whether a performance is GOOD or BAD? What set of criteria and deontology does that? Who has the right to say anything and which are their moral and professional qualifications? In the end, the goal of a performance is to present A DIFFERENT WAY of looking at a subject for the people interested in that experiment. This is the only method we can use to fight against clichés, manipulation, intolerance, self-sufficiency, snobbery, histrionics and the interference of politics in culture.

On the other hand, if you understand what it means to be a collaborator and that nothing is ABOUT YOU, but on the contrary... it becomes manageable, just like in everyday life. And to finally answer your question :), a performance is like food. The chef decides how much to invest in ingredients and he decides how to prepare the food and whom will it be served to.

 

The musical score for Lars von Trier's movie was composed and performed by Bjork. What would Bjork have to say about the musicality of Dancer's score composed by Golcea? What would you want her to think?

Nothing :) For every one of us, reality is what we want and choose to be - and this is not just cheap philosophy. And I want to stand in her defense :) I think she already has a very personal opinion about this subject... Unfortunately, the artistic guild suffers from the need to be constantly validated, and that can be explained to some extent, because it operates and is based on lability, vulnerability and "political" games, as well as the almost inexplicable „need" to leave your home and be exposed in front of others, who also leave their homes to see us. But if you get over that level, art which matters in time is the art which can awaken SOMETHING, ANYTHING in somebody. The receiver is as important as the sender. Briefly, nobody can influence how an artistic act resonates in somebody, because we have no instruments for that, as everything is SO SUBJECTIVE....

 

Interviewed by Vesna Rosca

Foto by Cosmin Micoara




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