Yesterday seems like a week ago. "The baby" grows faster than the
speed of light. INSIDE is so big that makes you loose track of your
life. It's like you're on a journey that abandons you to this new
place, and the new place suddenly invades you. Once you're inside you
can't escape it.
This is only my second day of actual work. Two days of readings
and discussions, and tomorrow we start moving. The day after we're
going to be fully standing.
May 9. 10:54 pm when I start writing this.
Time expands and shrinks INSIDE.
Woke up this morning and here I am again in a blink of an eye.
5 days. Feels like 5 weeks of work or 5 seconds.
Next thing I know it’s gonna be Monday morning.
Between drafts 4 and 5.
I’ve only had 4 coffees today.
Approximately 27 cigarettes. My rolling tobacco ended.
Missed phone calls from the outside world. My phone sucks.
Down to 8 pages. Including the descent.
Finished at 1.32.
Europe’s day? People holding the Finnish flag on the train.
First day of rehearsal with our team.
Radu, Maria, Rolando and Cosmin.
A taxi driver mistook the Peasant’s Museum with the Village Museum.
Intense conversations. Excited.
The piece tends to get musical.
A list of objects.
A list of movements.
A list of fears.
A list of courageous things.
A list of magical possibilities.
A list of irony.
A list of poetry.
A list of thoughts.
How is it all going to sound tomorrow?
Andreea is everywhere.
Csaba from Budapest. Haven’t seen him in 6 years. His Romanian is perfect.
Vera brought the metal box I’d forgotten at her place two nights ago.
Ella dropped by and said hi. Laur drove her back.
Performance art cocaine piece talk.
Taught Tamilla how to get around in the subway. Partially.
Toma searched for Nic.
Realized I haven’t really eaten today.
Bucharest is too dim. This river is underused.
Wondering if I’ll dream something.
Setting an alarm.
Waiting for the 6th second will come.
Theatre magic is back into my life!
It started with an idea and now it's growing, more and more, like a little plant trying to make its way to the sun!
It started with Ana and Tamilla and now there is a whole bunch of young and gifted artists together. Building a Dream. Here in Bucharest. In a space full of history and memories!
There are plans and strategies, and still, you experience a most beautiful feeling of freedom. There are fixed hours of rehearsals and still, your creativity is at its most!
Why so? It's as simple as that: Everything happens right now. Everything is alive and full of energy. Everyone involved is enthousiastic, even if scared of the unknown!
For me, one of the best moments for an actor is when he gets the part. When he finds out the character he would fall in love with..or not..And when he reads for the first time the draft. It's that moment when intuition is the master! And it's magical...so unexpected..so true..so intense..
Today we read together..for the first and the last time..We embraced the words of the authors..we tried to make them our own..we began the Discovery..
A circle of people reading plays together is as beautiful as the earth itself. It's round and it has a powerful meaning. Its energy will build stories. It will create life. It will create magic..
For the second draft reading, playwrights, directors and choreograph gathered at Vera’s place. I was the first to be very happy about it because I live just a few blocks away. Is a good thing to be part of independent artistic projects, at least for the fact that you don’t have to travel downtown. Suburbs and far away districts are the ideal place for you to be!
So there I was the first to be present at the meeting. We started late due to traffic jams that often happen even in a small distant town as Bucharest. But anyway, we started: a small apartment, from the late 70’s, a typical communist architecture, in which you feel that you are in a deep and permanent connection not only with what’s happening in the other tiny rooms but also with what happens on the street or with your neighbors – it’s like living in a Breaking-News TV Station (please, google “OTV Romanian TV Station” and you’ll have a sense of this feeling wherever you live). Anyway, we managed to hear each other. We were sometimes greeted by this young neutered Ex-Tom Cat called Farty, very human like… And sometimes we could enjoy our cigarettes indoor which I presume is another advantage of working alongside independent artists in small apartments since in public institutions smoking is prohibited. Well, we had also a great diner prepared by Vera’s husband: lentil with lemon juice and cream. Yummy! And last, but not least, we had a cozy host, Vera to whom I thank for having us all in her place.
The second draft. Amazing. I only can be very thankful to PopUpTheatrics who invited me in this project and to all of you, the sponsors who actually made this gathering possible. I am not able to imagine what you feel about this project or how you guys predict it will develop, but you managed to bring together so talented artists from so different places, working together on a site-specific piece about the Romanian Peasant Museum. And I think it is great! That for I think you’re better than any other European Parliament with its cultural policies and if I would be able to send you all to the EU Parliament, I would do it! We have EU elections soon, would you consider it? Being elected as our representatives? If not, it is ok as well, since you’ll always find amazing initiatives as the one we’re part of: INSIDE the National Romanian Peasant Museum!
Before we started the reading of the second draft, Tam and Ella shared with us their strongest insights after visiting the Romanian Peasant Museum during this afternoon. I won’t be able to reproduce their insights here; they will do it for you, for sure. But what fascinated me is the fact that we all Americans, English and Romanians vibrate right now to this unique museum that we have here, in Bucharest. You won’t believe me if I tell you that all the three plays –born overnight, during very tense moments, under terrible pressure similar to a worldwide war - are somehow part of one genuine voice that timidly asks: does the permanent conflict of the Inside and the Outside of our presence define who we are? We can’t exist without this silly childish conflict of our inner self and of our outer self. And although each play has its own very specific vibe, a different touch of emotion, a different style of delivery, they all stand for the belief that “together” unlike “apart” would always enlighten our pears, flourish their lives.
There is a wall rising on the eastern part of our so old and fornicatory Europe. We should enjoy these gatherings as long as we can afford them. And for this I thank you and invite you all to our show.
may 6 2014 bucharest I wake up with the sanziene (romanian name for gentle fairies who play an important part in local folklore , also used to designate the gallium velum flowers) in my head / there is something about them that I like sanzienele/ I have to get to the museum asap to sit in the space and write/ I get there by 11 am, I go directly upstairs, I hope nobody is there / last night I stayed there in the weaving mill in the armchair and I had such a strong feeling that what I see is something very feminine / something strongly feminine there and the sanziene legend on the walls, last night I dreamed in my mind about how could I use the two spaces the inside and the outside one / on my way home the cab driver told me that he used to work for the secret police during communism and told me about the way he used to file papers and all this sounded so familiar and in it's place, but a part of my brain was shouting “don't record other stories, you have enough stories from your museum visit, they really are enough, what are you going to do with all this stories?”
I arrive on the terrace next to the weaving mil, I start writing, I have very little time, especially that I have some errands to do before our meeting at 6pm, it's now or never, I start writing, somebody enters the terrace / how are you, vera/ hi, i'm writing a bit / i'm thinking that if I have to spend time to make conversation now i'm going to break down/ the girl understands and leaves/ than I start to feel guilty – I was rude/ than I forget/ you have only a few hours left / the ideas from last night could work or not/ I will have to just adjust them while writing / i'm looking on the terrace, it will be something like this, i'm trying to imagene how the actors could use most of the space, and i'm somehow seeing them running through the terrace / what if there will be a fire too/ wish I would have had more time to find more rituals with the sanziene / I can see them performing the ritual / I can only write realistic stuff, so it's hard to just make them do it whit no reason/ the text is there now/ from 11 to 12 my pen on the paper/ a very very very first draft / I go to the library / I write it in the computer now / a lady turns to me/ I look with the same look , not too rude I hope / I go down to eat something/ I come back upstairs / read it again/ i've got to go / between 2pm and 3 pm there are all the other things I have to do, and the crisis situation I have to solve for the other project i'm working on / i'm going to scream/ I go outside / the sun appeared/ I look at the grass in the sun/ everything is so quiet and I feel like screaming / i'm not sure I like what I wrote/ I think it's stupid now/ I go back and I read it one more time/ make some changes/ I am lucky the team is really cool and the collaboration is truly constructive, so if the text is not clear I can just tell them about my ideas, and I will continue tomorrow with the second draft, i'm still thinking about the sanziene and my last night feelings when I sat in that armchair, that heavy air, full of erotism, electric.
than I run for 3 more hours to solve stuff, than back in romana square, to my computer, I send the play.
It was full on! Here's the rundown:
10am we meet at the museum. Its still raining from yesterday. Radu tells me that last night when we all parted, on his way home he found that all hell had broken lose in Bucharest due to (actual) hail and ice and the down hill parts of the city were a mess. It seems I cannot escape cold rainy miserable weather. In Edinburgh and Buenos Aires this year it was just the same. But, hell, we're inside (hahaha) making art so, I tell myself to suck it up, there's plenty of coffee.
11am we start our tour of all the spaces that we will be able to intervene. We head towards the museum entrance but instead of ascending the staircase, we go out the back door to a brick court yard and head towards a tiny doorway labeled Biblioteca in jaunty lettering. It's the archive, storage and restoration building for museum artifacts. We are really really about to be INSIDE places no one patron of the museum has ever seen! I have to duck to not hit my head on the short door frame as we all descend a few steps and land in a white tile hallway. Nothing too exciting about this I'm thinking. And then Ana announces that this is one of the performance areas. hmmm. What can one do here? I'll have to think long and hard of some magical fix to spruce up this bland environment to make it remotely theatrical.
We take the tiny elevator to the second floor. A terrace! and a room full of looms where someone is in the middle of weaving several beautiful things -- from a large wall tapestry to a small throw rug. The calendar is in German. There is poem in romanian about a flower and photos of a women. Perhaps the weaver? This room is lush with stimulus but the Terrace! wow. the roof is a desert landscape of black tar. I can see it now. One lone actors sitting in the middle of the vast blackness. Ohh--what might they say. There is an open doorway that you can only access by walking along the roof. It is a perfect frame. So theatrical. Who will stand here? What might they say? We all dream a long time in that space. And then, we move on to the top floor and the Pièce de résistance- the watch tower. You can see ALLLLLLL Bucharest from here including the main government building from which I'm told the police will shoot you if they don't have permission to be on the tower. No one is quite sure if we have clearance. Or rather if anyone has told the police this yet. Oh my oh my the things we can do here.
All in all we visit 3 workshops, intrude on 2 offices, peek into numerous doors, closets, storages, hear a few stories from the museum director, talk with the oldest employee of the museum- a metal restorer, to a wooden objects restorer who says the most profound sh*t like " I only try to find what the object express. That guides my hand. " and " You might do more damage to it trying to fix it. You have to pay close attention not to harm the object more than time itself has done." Thats kinda a good philosophy with people too, i think. And maybe a good missive for this collaboration. I come back to the hallway we started in. The White tiled surface. The white walls. I can see so much more of it now-- the elegant forest green bench waiting for a lone actor to sit on it. The glass pane doors that are now open but closed create a provocative forces perspective that feels like a Roman Polanski Film set. Dropped ceiling, peeling paint, exposed duct work, a strange sink floating in the middle of the hallway. It feels old and heavy with story. I love this space! I just had to pay close attention. I would have done harm trying to "fix it". Or at least missed the opportunity to tell the story that beckons from the walls itself by imposing my own. Thanks Mr. wood restorer about the reminder, to pay close attention and to let the expression of the object to guid my work.
After leaving my house in Liverpool at 4pm yesterday afternoon, I’m finally here in Bucharest and I am so excited (if a little exhausted).
Thunder and lightening greet us as we make our way to the museum café; the place where in only 12 days, audiences will flock to buy tickets for the latest instalment of Inside. The 13 of us gather round an old wooden table in the backroom of the café, where 40’s blues plays from what sounds like an old record player. As the chatter of various languages and accents die down, we wait with anticipation for what Ana and Tamilla have to tell us about the forthcoming project. It’s going to be intense, that’s for sure, and nervous excitement exudes from us all as Ana and Tamilla chat animatedly about what is to come.
As I listen ideas flood my mind; stories of families and ancestors; timelines that span lifetimes, generations even. This is collaboration in its best sense and as I peer around the table at my fellow collaborators I feel a wave of energy and optimism; this show is going to be ace!
I’m excited and can’t wait to get started, touring the museum and hearing stories from staff, but for now I must go to bed. Sleep has been a stranger to me for the past 28 hours and I’m ready to shut my eyes and dream of what I will begin writing tomorrow.