The Institution, a Devised Theater Performance at TNB

First-Year Project for the Fairy Tale “Youth Everlasting and Life Without End,” Small Hall Foyer, TNB, Bucharest

The 32nd edition of the National Theater Festival started here in Bucharest yesterday. It will last until next Sunday. Among the performances, a performance put on by students graduating from the Theatrical Pedagogy master’s program of the National University of Theatrical and Cinematographic Art in Bucharest.

It was called The Institution, it was a devised theater performance, and it dramatized stories of children in institutional care. Actual stories.

First of all, the performance was amazing. These kids (the actors) were full of heart, and it showed. I’m so thankful for artists like that! The world does need them.

Here are the artists who collaborated in the creation of this performance (the ones in bold are the ones we saw on stage yesterday): Catalina Corbu, Alexandra Corlan, Aurelian Culea, Gabi Hritcu, Varty Mihail, Andreea Moustache, Alexandra Pribeagu, Simona Pustianu, Emanuel Varga, and director Florin Lita, along with light designer Alexandru Agafitei and sound designer Andrei Georgescu. Thanks are in order to the professors as well: Professor Bogdana (Darie) Cretu, PhD; Asst. Prof. Romina Boldasu, PhD; and Asst. Prof. Andreea Jicman, PhD.

Second, the stories. One of these kids was abandoned when her parents divorced and her mother “failed” her (don’t remember if she said why her mother left her because I was distracted; more on that in a bit). Another one entered the village for abandoned kids (a project of SOS. Kids’ Villages, an ONG that partnered with this master’s) when his brother killed their mother, because said brother wanted to go live in a prison. A third one after he was sent to live with an uncle and something happened, I don’t remember what (again, I was distracted). A fourth one after his father died in a mine explosion and his mother left to work abroad because there was little work available in their mining town (his sister chose to marry at fifteen). I was surprised that a mother would go abroad and leave her kid to an institutional home—usually these kids left in the care of one parents who leaves the country remain in the care of grandparents or other relatives. Finally, one of the kids was sent to the institutional home at birth.

The actors were sweet, and so were the participants from the audience—four people who were asked to play along with four actors. One of these participants was surely a theater student himself. It was fun to watch the way he entered the performance.

Then there was a certain woman. She kept looking at her phone even when the whole audience was wrapped in darkness and asked to focus on their breath. I kept my eyes closed for some of it but then opened them and this woman’s phone was such a bay of light that it completely pulled me out of that mood. Then I entered the atmosphere of the performance again, only to be annoyed by this woman again, when she decided it was phone time once more.

And she had nothing to look at on that phone. She opened WhatsApp, there were no messages. She scrolled up and down, nothing. She opened something else, with a lot of text. Skimmed a page, abandoned it. Opened something else: same thing, nothing to do there either.

The students/graduates deserved way more respect than that.

Anyway. Then we were asked to leave the actors a bit of ourselves. We were asked to make a drawing about what “at home” means for us. Then one about our most important dream. And finally, to leave a souvenir for the troupe by drawing or writing.

I was rather taken with their prompts and contributed some things that were quite meaningful to me. But I did that fast and so I had time to take a look at what the woman next to me did for “home.” She drew a rectangle with four squares for windows. Possibly also a door—I didn’t look again to check. But when she moved on to the next bit I noticed there was also another square on the page—somewhere in the “sky,” as it were.

I got to thinking about how so many people don’t access and expand their creativity. The prompt wasn’t even about “home.” It was about the meaning of “at home.”

I’m not the most artistic of people when it comes to expressing myself through the visual arts (some of the people in the audience had amazing style in clothes, for instance), but I always work to think ever more creatively, and hope that in the future will get to do more studio art as well. It’s really important. For one, you can offer people statements that inspire and warm their heart a little.

Remember to feed your creativity 🙂

Here are some more photos from the foyer of the Small Hall of the TNB (National Theater Bucharest).

Costumes made with recyclable materials
Costumes made with recyclable materials, Small Hall Foyer, TNB, Bucharest
Imaginative period costumes for women in the foyer of the "Sala Mica" of the TNB in Bucharest
Decor in the Foyer of the Small Hall, National Theater Bucharest
Mechanism for the horse in the "Story of Harap Alb," in the foyer of the "Sala Mica" of the TNB in Bucharest
Model for the “Story of Harap Alb,” Mechanism for the Horse,
Small Hall Foyer, TNB, Bucharest

To a happier, healthier life,

🙂 Mira

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