The scenarios are inspired by the Romanian realities of nowadays, sometimes in connection with the recent past. The usual process starts with a period of documentation through interviews or research in the archives, continues with improvisations with the actors based on the chosen material or themes. The script is not usually finished until the opening night of the show, because the text is not a play in itself, but one of the elements of the show.
Fabulamundi involved Gianina Carbunariu in activities in Munich, Madrid and Pont-à-Mousson.
Gianina Cărbunariu (9.08.1977) – director and playwright, co-founder of dramAcum group. Author of the performance Solitarity at the National Theatre Radu Stanca in Sibiu. Author of the performances: De vanzare/ For Sale, Typographic Capital Letters, Sibian Tiger, X mm from Y km, Rosia Montana – Pe linie fizica si pe linie politica, Sold Out at the Kammerspiele Theater from Munich, 20/20, fastforwardrewind, mady-baby.edu, Stop the Tempo etc. Participation in international festivals: LIFT – London, Dialog Festival – Wroclaw, Mladi Levi – Ljubljana, Divadelna Nitra, New Drama Festival – Budapest, Best from East – Volkstheater, Vienna; Museum of World Culture – Goteborg; New Drama Festival – Bratislava; Premiere Festival – Strasbourg; New Drama – Moscow, Biennale New Plays from Europe – Wiesbaden, Transamerique Festival – Montreal. The plays were translated and staged in Europe, Japan and USA.
2014 – De Vanzare/For Sale (produced by Odeon Theatre within the European project Hunger for Trade) – Uniter Award for Best Production of the Year
2014 – Solitarity presented in the official selection of Avignon Festival and in Abadia Theatre from Madrid and National Theatre in Bruxelles
2013 / project Solitarity (part of the international project Cities on Stage); first staged: 2013, National Theatre Radu Stanca in Sibiu
2013/ project Typographic Capital Letters (part of the European Project Parallel Lives Through The Eyes of Secret Police)
2012 / Sibian Tiger; first staged: 2012, the Comedy Theatre Bucharest
2011 / X mm from Y km; first staged: 2011, the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj
2010 / Project Rosia Montana – Pe linie fizica si pe linie politica (as coordinator of the project and one of the three directors, together with Radu Apostol and Andreea Valean and the playwright Stefan Peca); first staged: 2010, Hungarian Theatre, Cluj.
2010 / Sold Out; first staged: 2010, Kammerspiele Theater from Munich, Germany
2010 / Asparagus, first staged: 2010, Volkstheater, Vienna
2009 / 20/20; first staged: 2009, Targu Mures, Romania
2009 / The War is Over. What Shall We Do Now?, staged reading: 2009, Stockholm and Paris
2008 / Fastforwardrewind, first staged: 2008, Mic Theatre, Bucharest
2008 / DJ Pirat (in the frame of 5 Political Plays); first staged: 2008, Rennes
2007 / Calling Home; first staged: 2007, Kammerspiele Theatre, Munich
2007 – Kebab published by Oberon Books, London;
2005 / mady-baby.edu; first staged: 2005, Foarte Mic Theatre
2005 / These Guys Look Like Our Parents (Broken Voices project); first staged: 2005, Tristan Bates Theatre, London
2005 / Kebab – Stop the Tempo published in 2005, Actes Sud Paris
2004 / Stop the Tempo; first staged: 2004, Monday Theatre, Green Hours, Bucharest; published in 2006, in the American anthologies Romania After the Fall – Martin E. Segal and ICR New York
2001 / Honey (in the frame of the collective performance Ocean Café); first staged: 2001, Tineretului Theatre, Piatra Neamt
Using the theatrical convention of the interior monologue, the play brings together two characters with their prejudices, their frustrations, their vulnerability, their fears and their moments of unexpected kindness. They would probably never articulate their thoughts publicly, but these ideas are there all the time, in their mind. Some of the thoughts addressed here are taken from different internet sites and forums, where the anonymity functions the same way as the “inner monologue” in theatre: people feel safe to think and articulate the most crazy/terrible/unexpected things.
The story was inspired by an interview of a Romanian man who was working in UK for a few months.
The place where the two characters meet is a supermarket in a small British town. Twenty minutes before the closing of the supermarket, the food expiring that day is reduced and many people come to the supermarket one hour before in order to see what products will be reduced. In this case, they also come earlier because there are a lot of people willing to buy such products and they have to move faster in order to manage to get something.
One of the characters is a Romanian man of 35-40 who is a worker, picking up asparagus for a British company. He lives with other Romanian, Polish, Bulgarian workers close to the town, in some caravans. The conditions offered by the company who employed him are really bad and the money are not so good as well, but the man needs this work so he has to accept all these conditions. He is obsessed that the other people ( his colleagues Bulgarians and Polish, but especially British people) consider him a Roma (a Gipsy). He is annoyed by the confusion between Romanians and Roma. But even if his life is quite hard as a worker in UK, he prefers to work here than to go back home.
The other character is a British man of 65-75 who is having quite a difficult life at the moment. He thinks the source of the social problems in UK are the immigrants. He wants to leave the country because he thinks England it is not longer a place to be. He has old friends who moved to Spain, but now it is too late to buy something there. Recently he found out from a friend who moved to Bulgaria that this could be an option. He wants to convince his son, Peter, to borrow him some money and to help him move to Bulgaria. His arguments are based on his financial problems, but also on the discourse of a part of the British media, of politicians such as Nigel Farage.
Both characters feel discriminated and they both discriminate. Both feel aggressed and they aggress as well, even if this is happening only in their mind. Both feel that the place where they were born is not the place to be anymore. The one born in Romania wants to go West, the other one born in England wants to go East.
The style of the play is realistic, but the two parallel monologues are interrupted two times by two fantasies of the two men, fantasies appeared out of fear, the fear of the Other.
Is there any kindness possible in such situation, is there any normal contact still possible?
The Five Scenes are very different as aesthetics: from realism (scene 4), to docu-fiction (scene 2), a performative scene of translation/adaptation or a scene created in a more poetical style as in Scene 6 which is a rewriting ( a quote) of a fragment from the novel of John Steinbeck – “The Grapes of Wrath”
Scene 1 – Foreign investors are coming
The six characters – the Investors – in fact represent the same voice and they present themselves as “we” to the Romanian public, whom they address as “you”. The investors cannot be identified as having one nationality or another because in fact they represent interests that are not connected to any particular country, but are rather the interests of international clients, banks, investment funds, etc. The convention is that of a direct address in which the speakers try to convince of the opportunities for large-scale, industrialized farming. They present the precarious situation of subsistence farming and its imminent collapse. Although the system doesn’t function as it should, although problems of communication occur in the process of buying land from those who sell it, the large area and potential of the land are advantages that make any risk-taking worthwhile. Fortunately, as the investors recognize, the Romanian government is responsive to their recommendations and suggestions. The atmosphere of the scene moves on from a tone of seduction to an imperative tone. Finally a seventh investor turns up, who is ready to buy everything.
Scene 2 – Welcome to our village!
The seven characters are people who live in the countryside. They are sitting in a straight line, each of them on a plinth, in front of the spectators, whom they address directly. We have tried to recreate the situation in the interviews with villagers, making a collage out of their testimonies and trying at the same time to build a situation that links all the stories together. One of the seven characters is a local councillor and he is the one who tries to calm down the discontent of the other six speakers when they start to complain about the abuses in the village: the common grazing (public property) has been bought by a Romanian private investor, thus depriving the community of a resource that belonged to it; one woman complains that her signature was forged and her land was sold without her knowledge; a Romanian company has bought most of the land or leased it from the peasants with contracts that are obviously to the disadvantage of the latter; the road connecting the village to the town is impassable in the winter and no one has bothered to repair it for years, while on the other hand, a lot of money from European funds has been invested in a useless park at the edge of the village where no one goes. Grievances are smouldering all the time, both among those who no longer have work and among those who are still trying to work their land themselves and to survive in a free market in which small producers are suffocated by high seed prices, by bureaucracy, by the lack of even a minimum of support on the part of the state, and by the haphazard application of European norms by Romanian officials.
Scene 3 – A scene has come from Germany!
The play is interrupted because a new scene has come from Germany. This is the scene provided by Clemens Bechtel, the German director and one of the initiators of this international project – a monologue about the company Cargill, in which we find out the meaning of “the Cargill world”. One of the actors reads the text in German, translates it, and at the same time interprets this “translation”. A second actor proposes a “Romanian” adaptation of the Cargill monologue: in order to reach the level of performance of the “Cargill world”, all the land in Romania should be “amalgamated” (an obsession of the Romanian government at the present moment, which presses for small farmers’ land to be sold to large companies), and the former peasants should then migrate into the towns and learn new jobs. A third actor proposes a personal interpretation in which the monologue is reduced to a dry announcement: “You’ll eat what we want, when we want, and if we want.”
Scene 4 – Why do you have to put bombs in my field?
This scene is inspired by recent events in Romanian villages, in which a prospecting company goes onto people’s land abusively, lays cables, and places explosives in the ground to investigate whether there is shale gas underground. In recent months both the prospecting company owned by an influential Romanian businessman, which carries out shale gas prospecting activities all over the world (the Arab countries, Africa, South America), and the energy company Chevron have provoked reactions from various Romanian village communities by their abusive way of carrying out their activities. Crops are put at risk by this prospecting, but what is most serious is that the rights of owners are ignored and that a private firm, in association with the state and with the connivance of the police, is going onto people’s land under the pretext of defending the interests of the state and the welfare of the whole country.
Scene 5 – I won’t be at all the way I was before.
This scene is a rewriting of an episode from John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath. At the same time the scene is inspired by the situation of the protests at the village of Pungeşti and at Roşia Montana. In the summer of 2013, the villagers of Pungeşti began to protest against shale gas prospecting and exploitation within the boundaries of their village by the energy company Chevron. As a response to the peasants’ protests, the government sent squads of gendarmes and police to support Chevron. For a considerable time, access to the village was blocked, and the area was declared to be a “special public security zone”. The Gendarmerie’s explanation for this state of siege was: “In areas where violent demonstrations are taking place, special measures are called for.” Both the Gendarmerie and the security companies employed by Chevron committed abuses and violent acts against the locals, and there has been no investigation of who was responsible for these. On the other hand, the peasants’ responses, although peaceful, were labelled as “violent”, and fines were imposed with the aim of intimidating them. Prospecting for shale gas has also been going on in other areas of the country for months. This is a clear case of land grabbing: a company supported by the Romanian state enters a locality without its agreement and jeopardizes access to water and land, to the community’s vital sources of existence, in order to exploit its underground resources.
The fiction presents an extreme situation. The Son comes home early in the morning, when it is still dark outside, and tells his Mother that he has to flee from the besieged village. An hour before, the gendarmes went into the protesters’ tents and started to beat them, arresting some of them. Trying to protect a child, the Son fought back when a gendarme attacked him, and ended up killing his assailant. This happened far away from the protesters’ tents, where there was no one else around. Now he has to get as far away as possible from the village. Life under siege is transforming the workers of the land into something else, forcing them to defend their rights on their own, rights that are guaranteed by the law but are not respected even by the enforcers of the law. The world is changing and forcing them to make radical choices.
The style of this scene is very different because the topic addressed is always different, even if all have in common the idea of the impossibility of living together, the lack or the misinterpretation of “solidarity”.
The original production had a casting of 9 actors who performed different characters.
First scene: the Nine Characters enter the hall and the stage and they start to bid the sits in the theatre. They don’t bid only the sits, but the people as well. The audience is informed that They posses everything – the theatre, the street, the town, the whole world. The biding is a game between these Characters, but the audience is not told the rules of this game because they are of no public interest.
Second scene: the Mayor of the Town has a new idea to share to the Citizens. He wants to build a wall between the Roma community living in miserable conditions and the main road. This decision was made out of his concerns for the children of the community who are playing in this area where a lot of cars are passing. The Representative of the Rroma community is invited to take part in this discussion. The middle-class people from the audience who share the Mayor’s concerns for the future of the City are invited to react to this idea as well.
Third scene: Man and Woman, husband and wife with a very busy schedule and big responsibilities come to raise our awareness about a very dangerous issue: the Filipino nanny. They’ve just discover that their 5 years kid thinks the Filipino nanny is his mother. Man and Woman blame her and then start to blame each other for this nightmare.
Epilogue of Third Scene: the Actress supposed to play the Filipino Nanny comes on stage and while trying to perform the character, she also expresses her doubts about being able and being motivated to do it. She also brings in the discussion the power relationship she had with the Director of this performance during the rehearsal process.
Fourth Scene: Eugenia Ionesco, a star actress of the Romanian theatre died recently and now her coffin is brought on stage for the last applauses of the audience. The Priest invites everybody after this ceremony on the Artists Alley in a famous Romanian cemetery, but Eugenia’s Son comes on stage to tell everybody that the Actress will be buried in private cemetery outside of the City. The Son intends to sell his mother’s grave for 20 000. This event is an opportunity for different characters to express their attachment to the Orthodox Church’s idea of building the Cathedral of National Redemption and to other nationalist ideas.
Fifth Scene: An unusual family gathering very early in the morning. The center of this event is the Taxi Driver, a young man whose little daughter of 3 years old needs urgently a very expansive medical surgery. A health system which is collapsing is reflected also by the collapse of the family. The young man is trying to find the money needed for the surgery and he decides to sell objects of furniture etc from the house. The relatives invited to buy and help the family this way are not able of any compassion because they are themselves under economical pressure.
Epilogue of Fifth Scene: while trying to get many orders and get at least part of the money he needs, the Taxi Driver is stuck in the middle of the City. It is Saturday, the cars of the officials form the Parliament are passing and the whole traffic is stuck for this reason. The taxi driver understands that he will not reach in time to the indicated address. He realizes that with all his efforts he will not manage to get the money and save his daughter’s life. He decides not to move anymore, he decides to stand still in the middle of the chaotic town.
The Sibian Tiger
The play was written based on a documentation on a real event: in 2011, a Siberian Tiger escaped from the Zoo Garden of Sibiu. She got shot after 3 hours of freedom in the forest next to the Zoo Garden. I made interviews with people from Sibiu, being interested in their opinions about the city, about what an „european” city means today, about their fears, about their everyday life, about the way normal people relate to their town, to the possible dangers, to the minorities, to the „strangers”. The Sibian Tiger is a mockumentary (pretending to document, proposing absurd or surreal situations and characters) about the stranger, the possible danger, the different that enters the town.
Characters: There are aprox. 15, but the performance can be done with minimum 3 actors (2 m, 1f)
– Extracts from The Sibian Tiger –
– Scene 5–The Birds Characters: The Dove, The Crow, The Sparrow
The Dove: I’ll be honest and tell you directly and from the start: the central square belongs to pigeons. All over Europe, all over the world, squares belong to pigeons. Sure, they belong, first and foremost to men, to those who built them. They belong to the children and to the tourists. But just after them come the pigeons. So if we assume this, basically we don’t have much to debate. It was a contravention fact of violation of a territory.
The Crow: Parks with all the trees belong to crows. Well, also to the people…
The Sparrow: We, sparrows, know nothing, heard nothing…
The Dove: Zoos are for captive animals and birds. Okay, we also pass up there. Visiting.
The Crow: We also go to the Zoo, right, like everyone else. Especially when people are coming. They are going with loads of popcorn. So loads of food.
The Dove: When things are mixing is not right. The proof? Everything that has happened. After they put it on television and people started to lock themselves up in their homes, who were the first to suffer? Pigeons, of course. You couldn’t see any baby foot. We went hungry for quite a few hours. Which is not correct, normally. We must all live somehow. That is if we really are a community.
The Crow: For us, “the population of crows” as I heard we are being called more recently, it was better actually. They damn forgot about us and were concerned about more serious problems. They could even make a clear comparison. That there are real threats, and there are imaginary ones.
The Sparrow: We have not seen anything … We have not heard anything …
The Dove: It was a very difficult day. The have simply forgot about us.
The Crow: It was finally a looser day. They have simply forgotten about us. I tell you frankly: they hate us. And not just here in town. In all cities. Worldwide. We have a hard life, what else …
The Dove: Usually they love us, we really feel good here in the city. I personally would not go anywhere else. I feel like I belong to this culture. I really feel it.
The Crow: We allegedly attack the city. We leave a mess on sidewalks, in parks. What else … that’s how man is, he sees the straw in one’s eye instead of seeing the beams from his eyes.
The Dove: We may have small disputes. On bird-droppings, for example. However, coming from us, manure is to be considered a lucky-charm. If you look at the city, at how it looks, I think we also brought our tribute to this luck.
The Crow: They say we are noisy. US NOISY???!
The Dove: We are part of the identity. We are the symbol of tranquility and peace. Defining features of this city. With minor accidents. Insignificant.
The Sparrow: We don’t have time for this …
The Crow: Allegedly we are stealing food. An aberration. We do not steal, we take from the discarded food. We are cleaning up for you, people! And another thing: if crows are in one place, that’s a sign that that place is thriving. When no longer find anything to eat, farewell. Yet there is no such question. So I think that’s a good sign.
The Dove: Therefore the city takes care of us. They even put food vending machines in the market for us. This is a sign of respect from the authorities.
The Crow: So these authorities don’t know what more to invent, they have some ideas, one more stupid and more criminal than the other. We don’t know how to read, that’s true. Nobody’s perfect. But we’re not stupid. We also get to find out things. Last thing. An employee of the municipality filled the city with posters that … I quote from memory because, as I said, we might not know how to read, but we have good hearing and an elephant’s memory. So it says: “Dear citizen, I have received several complaints about the problem that for a while disturbed the district and the area where you live and I refer to birds, especially starlings and crows, which are nesting in the schoolyard trees. I am aware that these birds annoy for many aspects, such as dirt, noise and odor. The method that I recommend to be applied immediately is chasing them away by gunfire, thus being the fastest and least expensive. I will personally take care of this problem! Sincerely, Your local councilor … “Well, I don’t remember the name. Not that I couldn’t, but I didn’t want to, no sir, I don’t want to remember the names of all fools. I don’t even know how to comment. Well what to comment on such a genocide?
The Dove: We saw it, but of course we didn’t go too close. With such beings you never know. You must keep a distance.
The Crow: I saw it, of course, but I didn’t go too close because I’m not stupid. I stayed with the gang and we looked from up, from the top of the tree. We had fun, yes, it was made for laughing. That all armies and all those hunters were in the woods, and she walked freely around the city. Well, you got to have the perspective to see this. But what kind of perspective can have that army of criminals have?
The Dove: Well no one pees like that on our city. No one pees like that on us. That’s what these, of his kind, do: they come, they pee, invade the territory, mark it. We have had several cases of fainting in our ranks that day. Due to the smell of piss, of course. Well, it’s good that it has finished well. It was an unpleasant incident, but, as always, the authorities did their job. I am satisfied. We, the entire population of pigeons, are pleased.
The Crow: Criminals shedding blood. Is it forbidden to walk through the city? Or at least above it? Is there a sign-post saying “No Tigers”? Or “No crows”? Is there?! They should write it down so that we know it. They should write it!
The Sparrow: We don’t have time for this … We sit all day watching terraces, perhaps something might remain on the plates. But not much remains … You, people, you have such an appetite! We don’t have time to …Now, of course, a few of us disappeared that day. Let’s say 45. And a sister of mine, so 46. She looked at the plate of some tourists when Mihaela… the tiger lady approached … And taken she was. My sister. But it was only and only because of her lack of attention. What can you do, it happe