12th International Meetings in Cluj-Napoca (Romania)

Theatre as a mirror of life is more than the well-known methaphor ...

(by Dieter Topp)
The 12th edition of the Festival of the National Theatre of Cluj-Napoca, Romania (12-15 October 2023), dedicated its "International Encounters in Cluj" this time to the theme of MIRRORS with the possibility of giving the spectator different psycho-social insight.

The aim of the annual event is to create a platform for dialogue between different cultural personalities, to initiate communication networks between theatre personalities from all over the world, and to realise cultural cooperation and initiatives in an international context.

"Beyond the metaphor of theatre as a mirror of life, which has unfolded in various forms and shapes throughout history, it is a complex endeavour to capture the plurality of contemporary reality. The latest productions of the National Theatre Cluj-Napoca aim to focus on the many questions raised by the world today, playing kaleidoscopically with texts, chronologies, spaces and identities," say artistic director Ştefana Pop-Curşeu and theatre manager Mihai Măniuţiu.

Three evenings on the big stage of the house

In this sense, director Leta Popescu's relationship to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew broke open into a very different kind of taming of the shrew in alternative interpretations, doublings and metatheatrical research.

In Molière's Amphitryon, directed by Silviu Purcărete, identity was lost and regained by unravelling reality and reassembling it according to the will of the gods.

George Ciprian's The Drake's Head, directed by Alexandru Dabija, drew the audience into a surrealistic vortex - a distorting, carnivalesque mirror of a world turned upside down, comedically framed by the author and his colourful cast of characters.

Mirroring and theatrical doubling also ran like a thread through the performances in the theatre's Euphorion Studio:

For example, between Eros and Thanatos in Radu Stanca's Dona Juana, directed by Tudor Lucanu, or embodied by the search for oneself and overcoming one's own limits in Shamanic Songs/The Quest after The Conference of the Birds by Fariduddin Attar, directed by Çağlar Yiğitoğulları.


While the monodrama The Black Mirror based on short stories by Pirandello directed by Roberto Bacci with actor Ionuț Caras illuminated deep fears and longings, George Lungoci in The Stagehands directed by Dragoș Pop opened the curtain and gave the audience a glimpse of the backstage, on the one hand as the main engine of the theatrical structure and on the other hand as an incomplete mirror of the theatrical dream.

The festival programme ended with a concert
The Best of Balanescu Quartet transported to rural places full of emotions of traditional Romanian musical provenance and brought to light our almost forgotten memories of the start of electronic pop music in Balanescu's typical interpretation.

"Today, artists have taken on the role of shaman," says directorYiğitoğulları, using art and shamanism to lead the audience into the realm of emotions to where change takes place.

Harmony should radiate from the individual to the whole society, to evoke the essence of life, which seems to be forgotten by the constant pursuit of money and power. An all too pious wish that hardly anyone is willing or able to follow nowadays. But the magic worked, fortunately, for the duration of all the performances and the time of the encounters at the Cluj National Theatre.