Drama writing should represent those who are considered incapable of taking part in big decisions, devoided of power and evacuated from a history in which they feel alien. My plays are communities of words which fight for the redistribution of poles of power in the contemporary society, for investigating the depth of realities presented from a single angle.
The themes I deal with regard racial and sexual discrimination, conditions of the miners in Romania after 1989, their revolts (mineriade), voices of the kids and teenagers. I believe in a political theatre for kids, investing their innocence with a radical political perspective, in order to grow up more conscious of their social value.
Mihaela Michailov is a playwright and a performing arts critic.
She is very much interested in creating political plays focused on the causes of various social inequalities and on vulnerable issues such as: Romanian state abuses regarding non-represented categories, the agressive transformations in post-socialist times, oppressive hierarchies and discriminations.
Her plays have been translated in Bulgarian, English, French, Hungarian, German, Spanish.
She is also very much concerned in debating themes related to the educational system: the violence in school, the rights of kids, the relation between teachers, students and parents. Since 2012 she has been working with the director Radu Apostol at various projects of educational theatre.
Mihaela Michailov’s play Google my Country!, directed by Alexandra Badea, started at Teatrul Foarte Mic in 2010 and was shown abroad at Centre culturel Theo Argence de Saint-Priest, Festival „Transversales, Nuit des auteurs”; at Scène Nationale du Petit-Quevilly, the Festival „Corps de Textes Europe”; at Maison d’Europe et d’Orient, Paris, Festival „L’Europe des Théâtres”. The play received a second prize at Eurodram – European Netwok of Theatrical Translations), “Mousson d’été à l’Abbaye des Prémontrés (Maison Européenne des Écritures Contemporaines”.
Mihaela Michailov is experienced in documentary theatre. Her play, Heated Heads (2010, directed by David Schwartz), dramatises the so-called “Mineriad”, an episode of State repression on June 13-15, 1990 in which large groups of miners were carted to Bucharest in order to break up a peaceful demonstration against a government dominated by ex-comunist leaders. Heated Heads has played at various festivals in Romania. It was also invited at HAU in December 2012, for the festival Many Years After… As a follow-up to Heated Heads, Mihaela Michailov wrote Under Ground (2011) – about the condition of the miners in post-socialist Romania.
In 2011 her play Bad Kids (directed by Alexandru Mihăescu), written for one actress who performs nine characters, was represented at LUNI Theatre in Bucharest. The play was then invited for the „Romanian Days”in Munich, in 2011 and at Mousson d’hiver in the Théâtre de la Manufacture – Centre Dramatique National de Nancy (February 2014). Fragments of the play were translated at Édition théâtrale, Paris. The play is scheduled for a public reading in July 2014 at the Festival d’Avignon.
The play was published in 2016 at Solitaires Intempestifs.
Bad Kids was staged at Centre National Dramatique, Nancy, in 2015. In 2016 the play was staged ar Parkaue Theatre in Berlin, in the context of Fabulamundi.
Google My Country explores the borders of racism, the stereotypes that determine our daily behaviours. One of the main questions raised by the play is: where these stereotypes come from?
Why do we consider „the other” quilty for all the bad things hapenning around us? Why do we consider the Roma people responsible for the degraded image of our country?
The play is conceived as a collage, gathering in a fragmented structure, scenes focused on political racism, quotidian and apparently harmless racism and the racism proper to various TV and radio broadcasting.
From an early age, kids are taught that if they are not nice, the „gipsy” would come and steal them.
From an early age, kids are taught to be afraid of the „monstruous” gipsy.
From an early age, kids are taught that the gipsy is inferior. Because he steals. Because he lies. Because he stinks.
In a time where the others are considered rejected human dregs, the play opens a debate about a territory of constructed fears and political extremism.
„We are all migrants”, says one of the characters of the play.
The text gathers stories based on various interviews with domestic workers – Romanian women working abroad. The play focuses on their conditions of work, on the relations with their employers, on the abuses they are sometimes submitted to, on their intimate relations with their families, on the harrowing longing for their children. Torn between the need to earn more money and the need to be close to their families, the migrant women imagine ways of empowering themselves and others in similar conditions.
The text explores common stories of survival and engaging in political change, documenting what means to belong to a common Europe. What is Europe today from the perspective of those who are always on the road, rejected and humiliated while the public discourses tend to assimilate and
integrate them? What is the story of integration from their perspective?
COPII RĂI (Bad kids)
This eleven year old girl won’t stay put. She plays with rubber-bands in class as the teacher speaks. She plays as if she were a free kid. She dreams of giraffes and cannot sit as still as her classmates do. Her mother has moved her to yet another school because she does not fit in. She’s not a leading student. Not a productive kid. Something of a misfit. The history teacher handcuffs her with the coloured elastic bands she’d been playing with during the lesson about democracy. The educator who teaches about democracy disciplines the little girl in an aggressive and authoritarian way, restricts and restrains her. Violence creeps over to her classmates. They emulate their teacher’s conduct and attack the girl. The class teams up to silence their classmate. The girls falls silent. She stops dreaming of anything. Tomorrow her mother will remove her to yet another school. But which school will allow her to remain herself: an unsubdued, free child?
Bad Kids is a play about violence and submission. About imagination being reprimanded as it dares express itself. About rules and abuse which weigh down on the children’s freedom.
Bad Kids is a one-woman-show in which the actress performs the several social parts each of us plays in this increasingly brutal society where school mirrors the dynamic of the adult world we live in.
Bad Kids is a play about the education system in Romania, about the shapes violence can take when apparently harmless discipline-keeping turns into a collective threat and about the balance of power among teachers, parents and schoolchildren.
PROFU’de Religie (Our religion teacher)
Our Religion Teacher critically views the way Romanian schools treat religion: religion classes encourage black and white judgment, things are either good or bad, true or a lie. Religion classes favour a punitive behaviour: whoever believes differently deserves to be disciplined.
A thirteen year old student questions her religion teacher on the essence of truth: Is there a generally valid truth, or does everyone have their own? Is belief in God beyond doubt, or do students have the right to have their individual way of believing in values and principles?
The student accuses her religion teacher of having touched her knee. Teachers are divided on the subject: some believe she is lying, some believe her. Her classmates also disagree: some believe their religion teacher touched her, some don’t care, some don’t believe their teacher would do such a thing. The girl’s mother protests against a school system which tolerates such an incident.
A chaotic TV-debate deals with the role of religion in school: is it necessary? What is the best way to teach religion? Who benefits from religion classes?
The text quotes current religion manuals read by a narrator and tells the story of the young student who accuses her religion teacher of inappropriate behaviour.
Capete infierbantate (Heated Heads)
Heated Heads brings to public consciousness an episode of living history. Not long after the 1989 Revolution, on 13-15 June 1990 Bucharest is invaded by miners, which together with the forces of order intervened in force against protesters in University Square and the civilian population. It was considered the bloodiest, most brutal as style and scale of all miners actions. The project is based on a documentation process by various methods: interviews with witnesses, press articles, reports of various institutions and organizations, debates, public discussions, workshops, centered around the events in Bucharest in that period. The truth about these events is the sum of points of view, often contradictory and impossible to reduce to a single perspective, presented through the voices of seven participants directly involved in the events.
Roles: 4 kids: 3 brothers and a sister, an elder brother.
Inspired by the phenomenon of massive workforce emigration (which left more than one quarter of a million children alone at home) “Family Offline” tells the story of four children taken care by an elder brother, overwhelmed by his responsibilities.
They grow up preserving their innocence and, at the same time, learning by heart who they have to be: parents in the bodies of kids. Kids who accidentally start fire in the house, come late at home after cutting at a finger in order to prove they are brave.
Are these children the new parents of a world where tenderness is replaced by gifts? What kind of world do we build through the fragile imagination of children in search for absent parents?
– Extracts from Family Offline –
TIBI: Lunch is ready! Come! I don’t understand why you didn’t wait for Tonto and come back together.
VICE: They let us go early.
TIBI: You should have waited for him.
TIBI: At this time?
TONTO: They let us go early.
TIBI: Where do you come from?
TONTO: The school.
TONTO: …around the school.
TONTO: We had gym.
TIBI: You lie.
Tibi grabs Tonto’s hand. Tonto made a tight fist. Tibi forces it open. Tonto has a shard of glass.
TONTO: Boys also has blood. Woooooow! Boys is like super-heroes.
TIBI: Boys are.
CRISTA: It can get infected, never do that again!!
TIBI: What’s the matter with you? Why didn’t you go to school?
TONTO: I did go, Vice didn’t and he wasn’t there the whole week.
VICE: I’ll smash your face in.
TIBI quickly takes a bed sheet, cuts a stripe off it and bandages Tonto. Dodi brings his pencils and draws with them on the tablecloth. Crista fetches a bottle of alcohol and pour it Tonto’s palm.
TONTO: Vice doesn’t go either.
VICE: I’ll smash your face in.
TIBI: Why don’t you go?
VICE: I don’t want to.
TIBI: You must.
VICE: Why must I?
TIBI: It’s not good to stay the whole time at home and play. Crista and Tonto go to school, Dodi’s in the kindergarten, I work at the petrol station. You need to go.
VICE: You’ve no idea what I need or don’t need. You just give orders. I don’t want to obey you. I have no mom and no dad.
TIBI: You do, but they’re away.
VICE: They’re away so they’re gone. You’re gone too.
TIBI: I am what I can.
VICE: You want to be too many things and you’re nothing. Half parents, half kids, that’s what we are.
TIBI: I just want the best for you.
VICE: How do you know what’s best for me?
TIBI: They’ll throw you out.
VICE: I’m bored anyway.
VICE: I don’t feel like it and anyway I’m no good at it.
TIBI: Yes you are!
VICE: They make me repeat things like a parrot. Say the lesson. Repeat. Write. And again. What did we have for today? You don’t know? Write. And again. Repeat after me. I’m a machine-gun of letters and numbers. You didn’t pay attention, 3. No one asks me how I do. What I want. What I wish. What I feel. I hate school.
TIBI: There are good things too.
VICE: Quite few.
TIBI: Those few.
VICE: “Your parents are strawberry pickers in Spain. The strawberry-pickers took off and forgot you. Strawberry-picker, alone, strawberry- picker, alone. That’s all I hear. “Here comes the strawberry picker”! I feel like crying. Yea, but no. I’m strong. I never complain. Cry and you’re the sucker! Last sucker in the world. Last lonely one in the world. I grind my teeth, but no I don’t cry. They expect me to. To cry. Be a sucker. If you give in once, you give in for good. Why should I complain? No, no. Keep it to myself. I am angry. I am sad. Nobody needs me.
TIBI: You’re not alone.
VICE: There, among them, I’m the loneliest.
TIBI: We are not alone.
VICE: Do you have any idea how it is to be the strawberry picker day after day? My mom’s a physician, my dad’s an engineer, my mom’s into banking, my papa has a company. So many jobs and none for our parents.
TIBI: You go to school tomorrow. Before Easter, when they promised to return, you won’t skip school again, not even once.
VICE: Are you all deaf? Why don’t you listen? Strawberry picker, alone, strawberry picker, alone. Hey, dude, give me a strawberry! I am a loser nobody gives a damn for.
TIBI: I do.
VICE: You’re my brother.
TIBI: Tonto imitates you.
VICE: He must go to school.
TIBI: He doesn’t want to now.
VICE: He’s ashamed because he wets his pants and everybody laughs at him.
TIBI: Tonto, do they laugh at you?
VICE: Then why do you need three pairs of underpants in school?
TONTO: I change after sport. I dress up, I make myself pretty then I run myself on the field and I am always the cleanest kid.
TONTO (starts crying): I be not crappy!
TIBI (correcting him): I am not.
VICE: Oh yes, you be.
TONTO: I am not!
TIBI: Of course you are not. Stop it, Vice!
TONTO: I say what I want. And mom loves me even if I am crappy.