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NEWS
12.05.2018
TALKING WITH RADU-ALEXANDRU NICA: „THE COMMUNE” A GOOD STARTING POINT TO TALK ABOUT FAMILY IN THE 21ST CENTURY AND ABOUT THE CURRENT SOCIETY CRISIS

Radu-Alexandru Nica is working for the second time with our theatre company, for the performance The Commune, opening night: December 8th 2018, after he directed Scorched. This is a good opportunity to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of living in a commune and about the current Romanian theatre. 

The Commune introduces us to a group of people who have decided to live together, with equal rights and obligations. Apart from the human nature of the situation, the text looks at the social and political system in which everything is shared. When did you become interested in this text?

The very young generation, represented by my students at the university for instance, is strongly influenced by Neomarxism and considers it to be the right path. Regarding my own political options, I have started to migrate leftwards, yet I strongly believe that society is firmly based on private property. Sadly, selfishness is a stronger force than generosity. The 20th century has showed us that societies devoid of private property can function only for educated people, who also have very strong civic and ethical values. But these people are a minority. The story in this performance is placed in 1975, it talks about a bourgeois family experimenting with living together, in solidarity, a project which will prove to be an utopia. The benefits of living in a commune are multiple and we miss them profoundly today, when we are lonely, alienated, but one cannot neglect the other side of the coin - interpersonal relations, especially family relations, are changed forever, the results are unpredictable and often traumatising. The commune is, thus, a good starting point to talk about  family in the 21st century and about the current society crisis.

 

This is you second collaboration with the Hungarian Theatre. Are you generally surprised by the actors with whom you have worked previously?

People are always surprising, we all change in time - for better or worse. I worked with this team for „Scorched", whose text was more emotionally demanding. Maybe it's my naivety, but the more I am working, the more I understand that valuable creativity (which is not always the most spectacular!) goes hand in hand with honesty. It may sound trivial, but if creators have an honest relationship with themselves and everybody around, they have much more to offer from a creative point of view. This is why I want the acting to be as natural as possible and I want that the time spent together at rehearsals to remain a valuable life experience for the actors. The show might be a good one or not, but I want our time spent together to leave durable traces. Even at the decision-taking level, while practicing for „The Commune" we chose a more democratic system for taking decisions. I hope this will make the actors more responsible and motivated. 

 

Would you call yourself a young and restless director, or part of the status quo?

I am not so young any more, because I am 40, but I am not part of the status quo either. Romanian theatre is very predictable and boring, I cannot identify myself with that image. Still, it would be dishonest to say that the system hasn't accepted and validated me. Theatre managers are used to inviting a certain group of directors, myself included, as a guarantee to score a good performance. This is not what repertoire policy means. The priority of the funding authorities, on the other hand, is to pay for salaries and keep theatres quiet, not think longterm and in the people's best interest. That would ask for risky and somewhat unpopular measures. Romanian theatre is still, to a great extent, stuck in an anachronic mindset. I think it should be reconstructed from the ground in order to address a much wider audience, and theatre institutions should organize meetings with artists from various arts.
 

What would you say about Bucharest theatres vs. theatres in other cities? 

Right after 1990, many directors sought refuge in the provinces because actors from the capital city were involved in many projects and it was hard to bring teams together.  But now things are more balanced. Theatres in the provinces should have a higher ability to connect to the nowadays society, having the necessary constant support of local authorities. Quality art is not financially profitable and we need to escape this mentality, that art should become lucrative. Art has a different function. The priority should be to create as many shows as possible which will give the actors the opportunity to interact with the spectators, to provoke them, even make them think.
 

How do you see the present Romanian theatre scene?

The theatre and the audience's taste for theatre is alarmingly migrating towards the commercial, and the managers promote easy entertainment because it helps their evaluations, while we, the artists, compromise too much. There is insufficient experimental theatre, it would require time, resources and taking risks. Marketing departments do not fight enough to promote experimental shows which are truly innovative and help the evolution of theatre. With very few exceptions, theatre managers hold on to their positions and forget which is their duty: to spiritually, ethically and intellectually elevate the audience. 
 

What is the latest great performance you have seen?

The Iliad directed by Jernej Lorenci, Ljubljana National Theatre, I saw it at the Sibiu International Festival two years ago and I consider it to be brilliant.

 

 

interviewed by  Vesna Roșca




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