Film Is in the Air

Theatre is always influenced by time and changeable reality but contemporary theatre is also influenced by new media and popular TV shows. Modern plays become more and more like scripts. Acting transforms into stand-up. Mise en scene follows film framing. Theatre directors often use film fragments in their ways. It is neither bad nor good. These are modern tendencies that the International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences in Iasi presents this year.

Bogdan Theodor Olteanu’s Taxi Drivers is full of static scenes. They alternate like a movie montage. Two storylines about two men develop simultaneously crossing and diverging again. The nighttime work as a taxi driver is the only thing that unites two absolutely different men. One has problems with his wife. The marriage is falling apart but he decides too late to save it. Another guy has a temper and keeps getting into trouble. Characters move from their cars to a roadside cafe, under the house windows and back to the car. We follow their lives like in a TV series with pauses but without obsessive advertising.  It seems like static scenes with dialogues are asking for camera’s attention. However, it doesn’t happen because the only in-frame editing can be on the theatre stage.

Iarina Demian stages the American play In a Forest Dark and Deep. The play’s author is a film director and scriptwriter Neil LaBute so he knows very well how to keep the audience’s attention. He manipulates the viewers by revealing more and more secrets of a woman who asked her brother to help her to pack up things of her acquaintance. Everyone has a skeleton in the closet. Even your closest person, even your own sister becomes someone else. Iarina Demian puts actors in the common space with the audience. She comes into the fight with cinematographic rules. The director removes the screen border between actors and viewers. She gives a chance to feel the actor’s energy in close proximity, to ride on an emotional roller coaster with them, to smell beer from a real bottle and try to find out all their secrets.

Robert Bălan’s Perched on the Scaffolds takes a lot of from a worldwide popular genre of stand-up. Three men share with public their experiences of being a modern father. All of them try to be the best father in the world by their own ways. They tell their stories very honestly, sincerely and ironically. They don’t listen to each other carefully, rarely engage in dialogue. The stand-up comedy principles restrain the actors’ impulses to act in every moment of the show. The contemporary society principles restrain man’s impulses to ignore the importance of a father in the upbringing of the child. Perched on the Scaffolds manifests new profession for real men who aren’t afraid of difficulties – being a father. In confirmation of the fact that there are not only difficulties but also joys they show documentary footage of his own fatherhood.

The interaction of the theatre with cinematography always has been. Development in a vacuum is impossible for each kind of art, especially for theatre. Almost a hundred years ago Erwin Piscator widely used documentary video in his performances. Using television or cinematographic tools in the theatre doesn’t mean absorbing or substituting. The theatre stays itself and becomes more interesting, modern, attractive and understandable for the general public.

Antonina Shevchenko,

Participant, Workshop for young critics

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