Playwright Radu Macrinici, Director of the ATELIER Festival
I wanted to give Cinderella a chance to try on the Princes shoe
The director of the International Theatre Festival ATELIER, playwright Radu Macrinici, is preparing the 2010 edition of the event which will take place between 6 and 12 of June in Baia Mare.
How did the financial resources influence this year's selection for the festival?
I stopped with the selection on time, because otherwise There was a risk of exceeding the virtual budget of the festival. This year it was harder than in 2009, or so I felt it. In the past years, we won almost every year the AFCN (Administration of the National Cultural Fund) project competition. This year, because of the stammering of the ones with AFCN, who launched too late for me the session for projects, I missed the financing and was left with a considerable hole in the budget of the festival. And worse, the mayor of Baia Mare (the venue for the ATELIER Festival) was arrested and so we lost crucial support in funding the festival. The final blow came a month ago, when people were told that a quarter of their salaries will be cut. A meeting with the technical team of the festival was scheduled for the next day. I was telling them about putting up the scenery of a London theatre, and they were thinking about the instalment they wont be able to pay. At that moment, for the first time in twenty years, I felt stupid, me and my international theatre festival.
How do you define ATELIER Festival today, after 18 editions?
For the ones who dont know this, even though it is the oldest International Theatre Festival in Romania, ATELIER is a niche festival, which invites productions less present in the tourist circuit of festivals in Romania; generally these are challenging performances, disputed, sometimes badly talked about, directors demonized by the official critics, inconvenient playwrights, less stars and sacred monsters, which are still upset with that they hadnt had the courage and power (although some actually had it) to convince the communist regime before 1989 that it wouldnt be bad for Romania to have an international theatre festival. For me, ATELIER is a search for new forms of theatrical expression, with the means provided by cultural context, individual talent and public-private budget of the ones who play theatre in todays Romania.
ATELIER Festival was travelling until some years back - before Baia Mare, you also organised it in St. George and Sighisoara. What did the town with, and what the festival, further to these encounters?
After St. George and Sighisoara, the festival arrived in 2006 in Baia Mare, the cultural capital of Maramures, as I like saying. As one can see, Im taking my festival north, north-west, which may either mean that I started to travel like the snail carrying his house on his back, in search for sappier orchards, or that Im preparing to go out of the country with ATELIER, which will turn me into a prophet of alternative theatre, but in another land. That is to say, where people listens to you more carefully than they do at home. For this reason, Im already into talks with theatres in Hungary and Ukraine, to organize a regional, trans-border, trans-Carpathian festival or whatever it will be called if it will ever take place. On the one hand, I would like this festival, which is the bearer of a virus beneficial to the renewal of Romanian theatre and emancipation of our audiences, to migrate from one place to another, as a kind of evangelism. Im fascinated with the reaction of the audience, which is so different from one place to the other, in front of challenging performances that get them thinking and takes them out a little from the monotony of the community life. Only the ones who did this - and as far as I know, there arent many - can understand the joy I feel, whenever I know, at his home, a new audience, ingenuous and uncontaminated.
How is the festival adapting to Baia Mare?
A dynamic cultural life, diverse and attractive, that citizens from any community and any cultural category may access, is an important part of the social fabric determining the functioning of a town. This is why, a festival like ATELIER, addressing the entire community in Baia Mare, is extremely important in shaping the cultural and social profile of both the citizen and the entire town. These are not just big words, it is simply my strategy to adjust and adapt myself to the reality on the field. Unfortunately, these things are unknown or forgotten by those who lands in a province town expecting to amaze everybody with their great festival.
What is the sign under which you place the festival in 2010?
Although ATELIER is in its fifth edition in Baia Mare (out of the eighteen), I am aware that, through the avant-garde spirit it induces and its innovative character, the festival is still a culture shock for the conservative wing of the audience in Baia Mare. This is particularly why I did all my best for this event not to be perceived as a parade of oddities and eccentricities on the stage semi-centennial stage of the Theatre in Baia Mare and other unconventional spaces in the town, but as a celebration of new theatre, live and connected to the world that we live in.
In a town like Baia Mare, still affected pollution, poisoning and the nostalgia for the revue theatre, the motto of the ATELIER International Theatre Festival in 2010 remains ATELIER: WERE TAKING LEAD OUT OF YOUR BRAIN!
How does the ATELIER Festival coexist with the Municipal Theatre in Baia Mare does the selection aim to present and promote its productions this year?
Certainly, I am trying to make this festival beneficial both to the public in Baia Mare and the theatre here. And I think I managed to, since together with the festival, directors started to come along (Victor Ioan Frunza, Radu Afrim, Razvan Muresan, Szabo K. Istvan), as well as invitations to festivals in the country and abroad, reviews in the most important dedicated publications. And that means a lot for a theatre which four years ago was mistaken for that one in Satu Mare and actors coming here never stayed more than one season. In this respect, the meeting with Marilena Frenţiu, the general director of the Municipal Theatre in Baia Mare, and with Nicolae Weisz, the artistic director, recently retired for health reasons, was providential, both for theatre and for the festival.
What do you think are the marks that ATELIER Festival has left on Romanian theatre so far?
The trace that ATELIER Festival left along time is not a chain track trace, but that of a butterfly wing. If I were to brag a little (the ones who knows me, knows that Im not like that), I should say that I aimed, with discretion, since the first edition (in 1992) to create an institutional framework for the assertion of new forms of theatrical expression, to stir the apparition of these innovative forms in repertory theatres as well and to stimulate the avant-garde spirit which has been hibernating during the past decades and to restore this a tradition that Romanian abandoned, forced by the unfavourable political context, until 1990. I believe this festival has managed to create a start-up for young artists interested in innovating experiences, providing independent companies with the opportunity to present their productions focused mainly on the renewal of theatrical language, on the search for unconventional representation space for the dramatic texts and not only. To sum up, I wanted to give Cinderella a chance to try on the Princes shoe. Meanwhile, Cinderella has grown old, the Prince has deserted her completely, and the crystal shoe broke into several chips reflecting graciously Romanian contemporary theatre. And, together with it, the International Theatre Festival ATELIER, which reached adulthood this year. Lets hope it will grow old beautifully.