Theater as Resistance / RefleXions Detailed proposal 2018-2021

Step 1 - Research in Bucharest and Timișoara: (Capturing moments) – 2018

  • research work in public archives, theater archives, video interviews, documents
  • 2 workshops with possible local partners and collaborators in Timișoara at Aăleu

Theater (second part of 2018)

  • developing and organizing the collection of the Museum of the Communist Consumer founded by Ovidiu Mihăiță and Aăuleu Theater & adding a section dedicated to theater in communism, based on interviews and archives of the three theaters in Timisoara existing before 1989; ideas to grow the visibility of the Museum (promotion, partnerships, tours etc).
  • Organizing an exhibition with objects, printings, posters from the archives of the theatres in Timisoara and public presentations of scenes from old productions reenacted by actors from Aăuleu Theater

Step 2 - Ways of extending the communication with the citizens (Sustaining memories) - 2019-2020

  • Continue research work in public archives
  • publishing the fanzine Theater as Resistance including details about the project and fragments of the interviews and the phases of the research;
  • training members of Auăleu Theater & Merlin Theater for common activities and coordinating the volunteers for activities of the project;
  • interviews & dialogue tables on the theme Theater as resistance with members of the extended theater communities (actors, directors, technical staff, administration, stakeholders) and audience members from different generations (filmed); in the frame of the Museum of the Communist Consumer.

Step 3 - Deliverables - 2021

  • Documentary Theater as resistance including rare documents found in the archives, fragments of the filmed interviews and filmed public discussions (in Romanian, German and Hungarian translated into English) – with international screenings in festivals for documentary film & in Romanian communities abroad;
  • Connecting with the digital platform generated for RefleXions station (platform mentioned in the bid-book) and contributing with micro-narratives connected to the theater community (Knowledge Fields);
  • Interactive and multimedia exhibition including street signaling and wall video projections;
  • Opening the new section dedicated to Theater as Resistance in the Museum of the Communist Consumer;
  • Contest for plays inspired by the Museum of Communist Consumer and the interviews realized in the research process (interviews available online on the digital platform);
  • Subtitles in Romanian, Hungarian German for (at least) selected theater productions in all three theaters for enabling general audience access.

©ARPAS decembrie 2018

Resistance through innocence – animating the heritage

Cristina Modreanu

 The pop-up exhibition titled „How to get rid of adulthood for 10 minutes assisted by a puppet” was the second public event under the umbrella of the Theater as Resistance project, supported by Timisoara 2021 as part of the Heritage Contact Zone project, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union. Organized around the idea that before 1989 all theaters in Romania – puppetry included – had moments of subversive anti-totalitarian impact on children and their parents, the exhibition curated by Cristina Modreanu and Ovidiu Mihăiță, had the form of a performance based on a script by Ovidiu Mihăiță.

What happened? Small groups of 5 people were invited to enter the space of the exhibition and were greated by two puppets dressed like guards who debated if they are allowed inside or not. Then, the visitors met their guide, a small puppet who recomended itself as Croitorasul (the little tailor) and its handler, Maria „Cutza” Gornic, a veteran pupeteer who have been working for over 5 decades for the children theater in Timisoara. The puppet guided them through an interactive exhibition connecting the dots between a totalitarian past, a violent political present and the role of theater as an interface between a troubled global society and what is left of the childhood’s innocence and can still be found in contemporary adults. Using old weapon toys the visitors of the pop-up exhibition were asked to „shoot” the printed portraits of the worlds’ most criminal dictators, Romanian Nicolae Ceausescu included, and then were freed through a secret door after informed that „crimes taking place in theater are not punishable”. The total duration of one tour was up to 15 minutes.

In conceiveing the exhibition we wanted to include a performer who is in herself a live archive, as she has acted in all the important productions of the puppet theater in Timisoara, both before and after 1989 – a key year for our research. Also, the puppet guiding the visitors has been the protagonist of a production titled The courageous little tailor, produced before 1989 by the Timisoara Puppet Theater and it was „recycled” after 1989 for a production of Auăleu independent company, The Paricid, based on a text written by Ion Sava and directed by Ovidiu Mihăiță. This is the third production in which the puppet „acts”.

In the process of preparing the exhibition we interviewed a series of relevant persons, including Maria „Cutza” Gornic, and we did research in the archive of (now called) Merlin Puppet Theater, searching for those productions with a subversive potential, like The last unicorn, an adaptation of the novel with the same title by Peter Beagle made in 1979 by Andrei Ujică (today a well-known film maker), with music of a famous Romanian singer, Mircea Baniciu. We focused the texts published in the Theater as Resistance Fanzine around this production and around the idea of Resistance through innocence, expressed by Maria „Cutza” Gornic in the interview we video-recorded. The fanzine includes texts by Andrei Ujică, Șerban Foarță, Alina Nelega, Marcel Tolcea, Cristina Modreanu, Ovidiu Mihăiță, drawings by Lucian Popovici, and it was launched together with the exhibition and each visitor received a free copy.

The pop-up exhibition lasted for three days, 21st, 22nd, 23rd of June 2019, every night we had 6 groups entering the space and being guided by the puppet into a world of total freedom and playhood, only to exit it more responsible.

Recycling our heritage for a better contemporary world.

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