Re-awakening audiences

The need to ‘re-awaken’ audiences is reflected in the style and content of young theatre, which seeks to re-connect with society. This new way of thinking does not aim to underestimate the excellence and values Romanian theatre has thrived on for decades but rather to assimilate the new generation into its fold in order to avoid further rupture between generations.

In a spirit not dissimilar to that of the 90’s ‘in-yer-face’ theatre in Britain, Romanian writers and directors want to portray reality onstage, in the language of reality. Muncitor… plays with reality by placing a factory worker’s way of life – one true for many Eastern European immigrants in the UK – at the heart of the audience experience. Theatre critic and playwright Mihaela Michailov suggests that ‘young people [may feel] that recent history is a little broken. In fact, what is broken is our rapport with history – the fact we talk so little about it – this [drives us to] to make theatre, to see theatre, to say things [and that is why] playwrights are trying to provoke history onstage, to untie the knot’.

This is partly what 20/20 aims to do, a production that reawakens a conflict – largely suppressed in the media – which affected hundreds of lives. Hence, often the way Romanian theatre puts across its themes is more direct, more anarchic and more visceral than British audiences may be used to seeing. It stands to reason that young Romanian writers and directors feel they need to respond in such a manner.

With all the recent talk of injustice in relation to banking malpractice and the subsequent bailouts, perhaps contemporary Romanian theatre provides a welcome injection of theatrical anarchy in Britain.

LIFT has also programmed a free discussion about theatre collaboration across Europe and the way it has been traversing national boundaries and challenging notions of cultural identity. Crossing Borders will take place on Friday 6 July, with 20/20 creator Gianina Cărbunariu, Eero Epner (Dramaturge of Teater NO99, Estonia) and Cynthia Hedstrom (Producer for The Wooster Group), and will be chaired by festival director Mark Ball.