An interview by Iulian Fruntașu

The dialogue with Larisa Turea, theatre and film critic, about theatre in the Republic of Moldova is marked by a practically insurmountable difficulty to unequivocally define the theatrical process during the last half-century, or more. It is a frustration that all critics and art lovers know just too well: how to comprehend all details that form the complexity of theatrical creation, but also that of the political, social and personal relationships in which art manifests itself? Many questions, not so many answers; still a necessary discussion that we have in Mrs. Larisa Turea’s office in the “Mihai Eminescu” National Theatre. Until recently, she was literary secretary of the institution, from now on she will serve a member of the Audiovisual Council.

Larisa Turea

Iulian Fruntașu: Is there a solid reason that could ensure the continuity of the art of theatre in the Republic of Moldova?

Larisa Turea: Founded one hundred years ago, the ”Mihai Eminescu” National Theatre, represents the basic landmark of the theatrical world in Bessarabia. In the interwar period outstanding personalities like George Topârceanu or Aurel I. Maican, one of the great avant-gardists of the Romanian theatre, served as managers of the theatre. It was a time of high-quality own productions, accompanied by presentations of high class guest shows. At present, we continue the tradition through the meetings of the national theatres, a 7th edition, being scheduled for this year, between 15-28 September, showcasing the best performances of the historical Romanian theatres. It is an important cultural event because it represents a catalyst of models for audiences, as well as for actors and directors, collaborators and competitors.

We continue our discussion about the “Mihai Eminescu” National Theatre, the actors who played here in the interwar period, but also about the present time problems, mainly from a technical point of view, such as the endowment of the institution, failed renovations or the not so good acoustics.

Mihai Eminescu National Theatre

Iulian Fruntașu: But what can we relate to in the post-war period?

Larisa Turea: The “Luceafărul” Theatre, without any doubt. In the 60s, in the context of the Khrushchev era, when things become looser, a nucleus of the identity movement was formed. Lică Sainciuc, Eugen Doga at his debut, set designer Valentina Rusu Ciobanu, a group of the best people in theatre. A fabulous ensemble led by Dumitru Caraciobanu: Ecaterina Malcoci, Ion Șcurea, Valentina Izbeșciuc, Ion Ungureanu– the artistic director. All of them had studied at the “Boris Shchukin” Higher Theatrical School in Moscow, a very good school, with teachers who had studied with Vahtangov. Their professor was Anna Orociko. At the same time, in that period of relative liberalization initiated by the Soviet regime, the “Taganka” theater was created, there were more books circulating in samizdat, it was a favourable time for artistic activity, but it didn’t last for long. But, beyond the influence of politics, there was also a specificity related to the provincial mentality, petty animosities, vigilant denunciations to the authorities on grounds invented by nationalism or lack of ideological loyalty. The “Luceafărul” Theatre grew and flourished rapidly, it collapsed even more so; Caraciobanu sank into alcoholism, and Ion Ungureanu was forced to leave not only the theatre, but the country. However, it was during that period that certain things were accomplished. Gheorghe Vodă had staged “Looking for a Guard”, Paradjanov debuted here with “Andrieș”, Tarkovsky was in “Lazo” by Malarciuc; there were certain developments– not enough, it seems, to cement a cultural elite, able to preserve its verticality, including through the means of guild solidarity.

Luceafărul Theatre

Mrs. Turea is not only an extraordinary connoisseur of theatre and cinema, being the president of the Moldovan section of the International Association of Theatre Critics, but also a teacher and author, “The Book of Hunger” being highly appreciated by critics and the general public.

Iulian Fruntașu: The connection between the liberalization of the regime and artistic achievements is somehow natural. What happened in the theatre world at the time of Gorbachev’s perestroika?

Larisa Turea: That voltaic arch was produced, connecting to the legacy of the “Luceafărul” Theatre. It happened at the moment of the arrival of the Fusu-Vutcărău group from the “Boris Shchukin” Higher Theatre School in Moscow, a modernist group was created then, inside the theatre. They played their diploma show “Waiting for Godot.” Later they took their distance from “Luceafărul” and created the “Eugene Ionesco” theatre. They asked the famous playwright for permission to name their theatre after him, and he was thrilled to grant it to them. In fact, Ionesco makes the following remark about Chișinău in his play “The Man with Suitcases”: “What a wonderful place for meetings!”. The “Eugene Ionesco” theatre represented, during the restructuring and glasnost period, the fundamental cultural institution presenting extraordinary performances and effervescent debates, bringing together people, creating an overflow of energy and a youthful enthusiasm- it’s hard to recreate this now. Obviously, apart from Fusu and Vutcărău, we have to mention Val Butnaru, a cerebral presence, an ideologue of the artistic movement.

We continue the discussion about the impact of the “Eugene Ionesco” Theatre on the society of that period, about the enthusiasm of young people to assume a greater degree of freedom, including through means of theatrical expression, in which the lines from the performances represented a movement from the esoteric language to a direct one, anchored in the immediate political reality.

Iulian Fruntașu: Going back to the situation of today’s theatre in the Republic of Moldova, what or whom could you notice in the theatre in the Republic of Moldova, now, at this point in time?

Larisa Turea: Veaceslav Sambriș does very interesting things at Luceafărul: “Mine Flowers”, “Father” – a tough Matcovschi, very interesting from the point of view of the stage design, “12 Angry People”- this last one will be presented at our Theatrical Reunion. I like Mihai Tsarna’s works. Alexandru Cozub is also the author of interesting performances. He staged “Hamlet in Spicy Sauce,” for example. The “Siberian Files” directed by Petru Hadârcă, starting at documentary material is an interesting proposal. It’s a show that fits in any space, that fills the Great Hall of the National Theatre in Bucharest. The “Mateevici” theatre does some good things too. Vitalie Drucec from the “Tscheckov” Theatre as well. Mihai Fusu’s students: Țîcu and Durbală are good and their performances deserve appreciation. After all, the theatrical scene is alive and, still, we need more sincere productions, no need for sophistication. Our shows have international potential. I listened to the Osoianu sisters, singing in a Catholic church in France. It was so clear that the French were moved.

* The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the position of the Romanian Cultural Institute, but exclusively the opinions of the author.