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CONTRASTS

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Dana Cavaleru
July 25, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Actress and Director.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I was in the Gymnasium, a confused teenager, studying Math and Physics and searching for the Truth. I used to go very often to see the theatre shows in Bucharest. We had very good classical theatre shows at that time and we still have very good actors. Everything was changing inside me and around me: when I was 14, Communism lost power in Romania; everything was moving, I was afraid to live my own life. So I thought I found myself in the stories that happened on the stage. One evening the actress who had the leading part in Pirandello's Re-finding said: “To create, to re-create, that’s the only way one can find oneself.” That was the moment when I said to myself: “That’s it! I’m gonna be an actress, I will live the lives of these characters, I will tell people stories that will move them and change their lives as this story changed mine” and I left the theatre very impressed, crying in the 336 bus that took me home. Now I have a very different opinion about how one can find oneself .

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one in FringeNYC that...?
Our show is the only one in FringeNYC that features a Romanian woman and a Hungarian man (from Romania). There is a mixture of contrasting energies you won’t be able to find elsewhere. We've been working together for 17 years (we met before we became students at the Theater Academy). Lastly, everybody will understand the story of the show even if he or she doesn’t speak English, Romanian or Hungarian for that matter.

What was the most memorable/funny/unusual thing that has happened during the development and rehearsal process for this show?
We performed CONTRASTS for the first time at a Young Actors Theatre Festival. We had two weeks to create the show; one night before the premiere we were still working on cutting the music and arranging some voices… We stayed up very late that night and following morning we should have had rehearsals at 7 AM in order to create two more stories (we had the music, but we didn’t have time to work on it). I have to mention that my stage partner, Richard is born in Baia Mare, a town in the Northern part of Romania (Transylvania), a very beautiful part of our country, which I love, with very nice people who live their lives at a very slow pace. They are never in a rush. Now back to my story. I reached the rehearsal hall at about 7 AM and Richard was not there yet. I thought he might be tired so I phoned him. No answer. I went to his flat. I knocked at the door for several minutes and finally he opened; he was sleeping. OK. I decided not to lose my temper because it was the day of the premiere and we had a lot of things to do, we were against time. He invited me in. He said he needs some time to wash his face… and to clean the house with the vacuum cleaner. I couldn’t believe my ears. But it was true. He did it, slowly and very methodically. In order to keep my good mood, I turned the music on and created one of the moments that you will see in the show (on Romanian music).

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Surprising.

Can theatre bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theater touches the human heart and mind (otherwise it would be useless). It may change the mood of one person or the mood of the entire audience so in the end it may reach a larger group of people. Theater and art in general find better and more subtle ways to tell the truth. We experienced the above in Romania during Communism, when people didn’t have the courage to speak their minds. And in theater shows actors could tell what was wrong in our society, could speak about the dictatorship. People were hungry to hear that. There was complicity between the actors and the audience. People were waiting in long queues to buy tickets for the shows. I believe that, even in a free country, theatre creators (actors, directors, etc) should have the same desire to convey their ideas, to talk about their lives, and about what they see. If their message is a personal one, it will reach the audience's hearts and minds. Then, people will have all the reasons to make a queue for buying a ticket at a theater show instead of going to any movie blockbuster.