For me, writing drama means tackling contemporary themes or personal obsessions. I am interested in the social impact of theatre (for instance the negative effects of emigration or the social changes since the political upheaval of 1989). I am drawn to realistic-psychological theatre, which is why I have written plays about the crises of a contemporary couple, the dissimulated tolerance towards non-conformism in its various forms (sexual, behavioural, etc.), the destructive role of vanity or the distorted relationships between parents and children. I am trying to create powerful drama, sprinkled with humorous situations and replies, as well as characters with whom the spectator may identify.
Ignat Mihai, born in 5 October 1967, in Braşov, Romania.
Education: 1995 – B.A. degree with the Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest; 1997 – M.A. degree on “Contemporary Romanian Literature”, Faculty of Letters, Bucharest; 2004 – Ph. D. degree in philology, Faculty of Letters, University of Bucharest.
Work experience: unskilled worker with the Printing House; teacher with the Technical High School; editor of the “Interval” cultural magazine in Braşov; editor of the Editorials and Opinions page of the “Monitorul de Braşov” Daily; literary secretary of the “Andrei Mureşanu” Theatre in Sfîntu Gheorghe.
Present job: university lecturer in the Romanian Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters, “Transilvania” University of Braşov, Romania.
2003 / Crises or Another Love Story, first staged: 2004, Radio BBC London, published in 2006; nominated at the “International Radio Playwriting Competition 2003”, a contest organized by the BBC World Service, and at the UNITER contest “The Best Romanian Play of 2003
2005 / Four Frozen Onions, first staged: 2009, Cultural Center “Reduta” Braşov; published in 2006; first prize at National Playwriting Contest organized by the Ministry of Culture and Cults.
2006 / Just Not My Neck, first staged : 2006, Theatre 74, Târgu Mureş; published in 2009
2007 / Trades and dead ends, first staged: 2010, Cultural Center “Reduta” Braşov; published in 2008; prize UNITER for “The Best Romanian Play of 2007”.
2007 / Zips, buttons and fasteners, first staged: 2011, Dom Polski hall Suceava; nominated at the UNITER contest “The Best Romanian Play of 2007”
2008 / Black Sitcom, published on 2008; winner of the first prize of the Romanian comedy playwriting contest, organized by the Comedy Theatre Bucharest at the Romanian Comedy Festival, 6th edition.
2008 / Death for the Country, first staged: 2011, Andrei Mureşanu Theatre, Sfântu Gheorghe; nominated at the UNITER contest “Best romanian play of 2008”.
2009 / Here, there, nominated at the UNITER Contest “Best romanian play of 2010”.
2009 / One Life Show, first staged: 2011, Independent Theatre “Aratat”, Baia Mare; published in 2012
2010 / Requiem for a honey bunny, first staged: september 2013, Moscow.
Death for the Country
Three flats from the same block and six characters: the last WW2 veteran, a young man who is or claims to be his grandson, an adulterous and violent husband, an apathetic wife, their rebellious daughter and a neighbour living on her own.
At the core of these crossing stories are the fight for survival, the cleavage between the young people’s and their parents’ mentality, the fears caused by forgetting the past or the degradation of the present. The fundamental theme of the play is ”vital space” – a real and acute problem in the context of urban living which, although it is built around the community, leads, paradoxically, to isolation and lack of caring.
In the end, the veteran commits suicide in order to give his grandson a chance to have a flat, the adulterous husband, left by his lover, wife and daughter, kills a neighbour in a moment of anger and the girl has an abortion because she has no conditions to raise a child. Death for the country, as evoked by the veteran, has become in the context of this residual world, death because of the country.
– Extract from Death for the Country –
4. In flat 18
THE OTHER WOMAN: You were saying that it was over.
THE MAN: I can’t yet.
THE OTHER WOMAN: And how long do you think you won’t be able to?
THE MAN: Do you want me not to come anymore?
THE OTHER WOMAN: Is this blackmail?
THE MAN: Of course not.
THE OTHER WOMAN: Have I told you not to come?
THE MAN: I want you.
THE OTHER WOMAN: This week, forget about it.
THE MAN: Oh, it’s your period. (He laughs.)I should have a mistress during these periods.
THE OTHER WOMAN: You would, wouldn’t you.
THE MAN: I want you. I want only you.
THE OTHER WOMAN: You don’t want her? (Pause.) What would you do if she found out? (Pause.) What if already she knows?
THE MAN: You haven’t told her!
THE OTHER WOMAN: You only want me for the sex.
THE MAN: Well, not just for the sex…
THE OTHER WOMAN: In fact, you’re right. It’s fairer this way. I also want you only for the sex (The Man looks at her in disbelief.) If you could see your face… (Pause.) I don’t want you to come here again. (The Man gives her a long look.) Yes, you heard me well.
THE MAN: Well, if it’s only about the sex…
THE OTHER WOMAN: But not in three.
THE MAN: Which three?
THE OTHER WOMAN: When we do it, do you think of her? Or of some tart?
THE MAN: Do you really not want me to come here again?
THE OTHER WOMAN: Yes.
THE MAN: Please.
THE OTHER WOMAN: You can come, but it will cost you. A hundred lei. (The Man looks at her.) I’m not joking. A hundred lei per meeting. And I do all the talking. You answer only when I want you to. You can grunt. I like it when you grunt. It excites me. (The Man laughs.) I’m not joking. If you want me just for the sex, you must pay me. And you can call me anything you want: Lola, Manuela, Suzi, anything. (The Man becomes serious again.)
In flat 41
The War Veteran, alone, reading the paper aloud.
THE WAR VETERAN: Wife beats husband to death with rolling pin. Number one of Czech espionage turns out to be a Romanian woman. (Pause.) Sensational: Michael Jackson talked. (Pause.) The government will change the Land Law: the peasants will receive pieces of metal pipes. (The Young Man comes in. He sits down, tired.)
THE YOUNG MAN: Are you reading those ancient papers again?
THE WAR VETERAN: Listen: A mouse was found in a beer bottle. The brewery will pay psychological damages of $25,000. The beneficiary is a man on the dole. Two 7 year-old children on trial for rape. Unhappy that his wife cooked him chicken, a man stabbed her 28 times.
THE YOUNG MAN: Don’t you get bored with these things?
THE WAR VETERAN: No, because I forget them.
THE YOUNG MAN: If you forget them, how do you know you haven’t read them before?
THE WAR VETERAN: The ones I’ve read I put on top of that pile.
THE YOUNG MAN: And don’t you forget which pile contains the read papers and which the unread? One day you will hit me on the head thinking I’m a burglar.
THE WAR VETERAN: Which would be bad, wouldn’t it? (The Young Man laughs.)
THE WAR VETERAN: Do you see that photo? (Pause.) Don’t you recognise him? I mean, I know he was only 7… but has he never showed it to you?
THE YOUNG MAN: Is it…?
THE WAR VETERAN: …your father. Holding a cat. (Pause.) He liked dogs, in fact, but he liked Milli too. What’s the matter? You look a bit confused.
THE YOUNG MAN: Why should I be confused? I’m just a little tired, that’s all…
THE WAR VETERAN: Who are you? (The Young Man smiles amused and confused.)
THE YOUNG MAN: I can’t tell whether your memory’s gone or you’re paranoid.
THE WAR VETERAN: If you talk to me like that… you can go. You’re mocking an old man who can barely shuffle his feet.
THE YOUNG MAN: I told you that after mum and dad had the accident, I came back here with very little money and I realised that I couldn’t buy a flat. I stayed with a friend but, one night, he was so drunk he nearly killed me. I slept in the car a few nights. And I told myself I had nothing to lose if I asked you to let me stay with you. At least for a while, until I sort myself out.
THE WAR VETERAN: I suggest you start packing up.
THE YOUNG MAN: Come on, really, you’re exaggerating now.
THE WAR VETERAN: I don’t know. I don’t know anymore…
THE YOUNG MAN: Would you like some tea? (He gets up.) I’m making some tea, to warm up a little.
THE WAR VETERAN: Go away! One day you’ll hit me on the head, you, rascal!