Carmencita, you told me the theater was your studio. How much does your work depend on the space you work in?
Indeed, the Theater is my studio. Regardless of the theater I am in at any given moment, I always relate to it in a special, different, particular way; and this is always greatly defined by the connection established between us, by the space, the atmosphere, and the people “inhabiting” it.
What performance are you currently working on?
I rarely work on just a single show; there are different stages of work for each project so now I am working on three: Nora by H.Ibsen, directed by Botond Nagy, where I am in the phase of production (premiere in March, at the Hungarian Theater of Cluj); Iona by Marin Sorescu, directed by Gábor Tompa, in the phase of technical sketches and specifications (premiere this spring at Nottara Theater in Bucharest); The Tempest by W. Shakespeare, directed by Gábor Tompa; in the phase of technical and artistic sketches (premiere this autumn at the Cluj National Theater).
Jacques or the Submission / Directed by Gábor Tompa
Tell me three essential things about scenography: the good, the bad and the ugly :)
It is a complex and complicated question; the way I see it, The Good manifests in the fact that I do what I like, in my surprise when watching the “small seed” of my imagination blossom into reality on stage, in the team work and the joy I experience when I see the audience join the show we had conceived and created.
The Bad and The Ugly are very rare for me, they might not exist at all; there rather is The Hard in certain situations related mostly to financial matters (when you have to make a project work on very little money) or to production (when it is difficult to create what you have imagined); but there are always solutions because it is not imagination we lack 🙂
Do you have an aesthetic creed? What are values that drive your artistic practice?
I generally mean to express what I feel, think and imagine in relation to a text, an opera, a theatrical proposition … To be as honest and precise as possible, to create states, emotions and thoughts through what I do. When I was at primary school I came across a book about Brâncuşi and the phrase “I give you pure joy” stayed with me ever since.
“The pleasure with which the artist works is the very heart of his art. Without heart there is no art! And the first condition is that you should enjoy, care for and passionately love what you do. Let it be your joy. And through your joy make others enjoy it, too. “
How and why did you choose scenography as a means of expression?
I think we found each other, I chose this way of self-expression most naturally, it seemed to me the closest thing to what I could say and how I could say it, to what I felt. Of course there were various paths and events that clicked and have amazingly led me here.
As I see it, scenography oscillates between text and image. What about the relation between the two?
For me, words automatically turn into pictures, I see the words, the phrases; a phrase is already an entire “show” for me. When I am talked to or I read, images flow through me like on a movie screen, like in dozens of slide strips. I then try to frame these images, to translate them and to share them.
Nature or culture? Which one are you drawing your themes from?
I cannot take them separately, they go together, so: Nature and Culture.
Please list three stage designers or artists who have influenced your art.
I am reluctant to take artists and stage designers separately; but there certainly are a few creators close to my universe (not mentioning anything in Art History here, or else the list would start with Ancient Egypt, Ancient China and Ancient Greece and go on and on!).
So I should start with the artist by whom I grew up, I was formed, I matured: Gabriel Brojboiu, with whom I share a life of thoughts, ideas, readings, creations, etc.
In the world of theater I would name Liviu Ciulei, Silviu Purcărete, Helmut Stürmer and Lia Manţoc, Andrei Both.
List three directors you worked with and next to whom you found new ways to think about theater.
My beginnings and growth, my first steps in theater and my initiation were marked by the director Mona Chirilă; with Gábor Tompa we go on the same paths in theatre, we are a team but we are also long-time friends; with Andrei Şerban we explored new worlds and new artistic territory, we dug up in states of mind and emotions, we shared splendid experiences, and our friendship also goes back a long time.
In theater, when you share states of mind, thoughts and emotions, practically your work-material, friendships are also forged most of the time. This is in fact very nice, you get to know people, to discover their personal universe, and that continually enriches you.
What text would you like to bring to the stage but did not have the opportunity yet?
There were and there are so many texts/themes/subjects, so different and so full of substance that I have nothing previously established; every project is something new, unknown and so thrilling that I don’t see why I should covet any much dreamed-of text; I always take the challenge with great impetus, and it makes me discover unpredictable things within me every time, new images and states of mind.
How do you put yourself in the state of doing in non-inspirational moments?
I like to think that I do not have such moments, because in theater we are working with Time, which does not really allow us to “ruminate”; sometimes there are moments of blockage or fatigue that I overcome reading, listening to music, walking around, spending time with my family.
How long does the incubation phase of a project last? I mean here the work with the director and with the text, before production.
This phase differs from one project to another: there were performances where we worked several months in the “pre-production” phase (the “documentary-concept-creation- sketches” phase, sometimes even half a year) but there also were projects where I only worked for a few weeks (2-4 weeks); which means that one always has to be ready to go as needed :).
How do you see the relationship between intent, planning, execution, and end product? As a stage designer, you are coordinating various teams to achieve a vision.
It rather is a road, a trajectory that you enroll in, the starting point being as I said earlier “the small seed”, the initial idea-image, and then I put that through the the creation lab along with the team of creators (including the director, the composer, the choreographer, the designer, the actors, etc.), so that it acquires substance and form, then it reaches the production team, responsible for the practical realization of all the elements of decoration, scenery, costumes, props etc. Finally, all this is gathered and harmonized on stage/in the performance space, where the production team enters with its work, finalizing the show in all its details …. it’s actually a WHOLE that a large team of people is working on. I think communication is very, very important, the way we harmonize our creation between each other in order to share a common language.
Describe a crucial moment in your development as an artist.
I could think of several, but I would begin with the day when my mother enrolled me at the School of Arts (I was about 9 years old) with an exam taken on the spot (it was something sudden, surprising and emotional, as nothing I had previously experienced); the moment I applied for the job of stage designer at the Constanta Puppet Theater; then the one when I came to Cluj, to the Hungarian Theater.
Are there events in your biography that had influenced your course?
There are many, many moments that had “germinated” and influenced my way later:
My meeting, as a student, with director Silviu Purcarete, whose show “Miles Gloriosus”, at the rehearsals of which I had participated at the Constanta State Theater, gave me such a rich, profound and breathtaking world, that opened a wide door onto a type of theater very close to my soul.Then, as I have already said, the road alongside Gabriel.
The Constanta Puppet Theater, the ABC of stage design for me.
The first international project in England, meeting with the Western world, British culture and theater.
Meeting the theaters and artists I had worked with…
What do you think about the local art community, how do you relate to it?
Cluj has a living, boysterous, rich artistic community. Since the theater is my studio where I spend almost all my time, I only manage visit a few exhibitions, and unfortunately nothing more.
How do you relate to the international art context?
There are several ways to relate, one is to attend International Theater Festivals and International Tours; another is when I actually work in another country, another space, another culture. This experience is very interesting because I’m actually working with very different drama theaters and theater companies: it is demanding and at hand to find a common artistic language and to see that your art/creation is valid, received and that it “works” perfectly there; I think the best way to communicate is through art, it is the “common” place where we come together and meet.
How does your works “reach the world”?
The stage is my “art”, the theater is the “gallery”, my exhibition space, thus the performances seen both in the current repertoire or during tours and festivals also become, to a certain extent, “curators”; but without an audience, my works remain mere anonymous exhibits. Still, scenography is an ephemeral art, that exists as long as there is a performance; later it only survives in disparate fragments, images and sensations in our memory