Six years ago, the lane in Cetății park was paved for the first time with stars of celebrities during the Sibiu International Theatre Festival. In the first year of Sibiu Walk of Fame, Constantin Chiriac (FITS president) and Klaus Iohannis (who was then the mayor of Sibiu) awarded six stars to celebrate cultural excellency from all over the world. The artists who were awarded with a star in Sibiu were directors Ariane Mnouchkine, Eugenio Barba, Silviu Purcărete, Declan Donnellan, theatre critic George Banu and actor Kabuki Nakamura Kanzaburo XVII, who was awarded the star after his death.
Year after year, the list of celebrities has grown to include major names from the worldwide field of theatre and art. Sibiu Walk of Fame has since become the symbolic line connecting Sibiu to the traditional and contemporary theatre world, but also a way in which to squeeze that world inside its citadel walls, thus being able to offer unlimited access to the fascinating world of performances for locals and theatre lovers.
Keeping in line with its inaugural year, six stars will be added on the Walk of Fame during the 26th edition of FITS. This year, the theme the Art of Giving. Eugenio Barba talked about the art of giving in his message for World Theatre Day and he reminded us that “Theatre is like a house with two entrances: one leads to tradition and the other one is used to escape tradition”. Consequently, we suggest that you should look at the new stars that will be added on the Walk of Fame from the perspective of a constant renegotiation between tradition and innovation.
The first star is awarded to French director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, who is also director of Théâtre de la Ville since 2008 and general director of Festival d’Automne in Paris since 2011. Demarcy-Mota has directed many theatre plays such as “The Soldier’s Tale” by Ramuz (Théâtre de la Commune Aubervilliers, 1993); “Leonce and Lena” by Büchner (1995); “Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Pirandello (2001), “Rhinoceros” by Ionesco (Théâtre de la Ville, 2004); “Casimir and Caroline” by Horváth (Théâtre de la Ville, 2009); “Wanted Petula” and “Bouli année zero”, both by Melquiot (2009-2010); “Rhinoceros” by Ionesco (revival, 2011); “Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Pirandello (revival at Théâtre de la Ville, 2015) and “The State of Siege” by Albert Camus (Théâtre de la Ville, 2017), which will be performed this year at FITS. Demarcy-Mota is famous in Europe for reinventing an essential principle of theatrical functionality, namely the troupe, by means of which Théâtre de la Ville succeeds to direct memorable plays wherever they may be performing. The revival of “Six Characters in Search of an Author” was performed at FITS in 2015.
The next star is awarded to Maia Morgenstern, one of the most famous and beloved theatre and film actresses in Romania, who has recently received the UNITER award for her entire career. Maia Morgenstern was born in 1962, in Bucharest, in a Jewish family and after graduating from the Theatre and Film Academy she became a collaborating actor at the Youth Theatre in Piatra Neamț and the State Jewish Theatre in Bucharest. On stage at the State Jewish Theatre, where she has been the director since 2012, she has performed remarkable roles in “Tonight: Lola Blau”, “The Kings’ Game”, “Driving Miss Daisy” or “Park Your Car in Harvard Yard”. On stage at the National Theatre Bucharest, she has performed in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Visit of the Old Lady”. She has played a part in a series of movies such as “The Secret of Bacchus”, “The Oak”, “The Most Beloved of Earthlings”, “Orient Express”, “The Passion of the Christ”, “The End of Silence”, “The Secret of Polichinelle” or “Domnişoara Christina”. The European Parliament in Strasbourg declared her the Actress and Woman of the Year in 2004. In 2017, she received the academic title of Doctor Honoris Causa Artis from the West University of Timișoara.
During FITS 2019, we can see Maia Morgenstern perform in “What Can I Get You?” written by Pascal Bruckner and directed by Chris Simion-Mercurian and in “Elixir” written by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt and directed by Marcel Top.
Pippo Delbono is probably the best example of a director and performer who uses the second entrance in the theatre house imagined by Eugenio Barba, redefining all that we understand by theatre and performing arts. A markedly complex creator, theatre and film actor, director and writer, a former member of the legendary Odin Teatret, Pippo Delbono is known for his extremely nonconformist and autobiographical performances that cover such themes as religion, disease, mental health and society’s outcasts while often defying moral and ethical norms.
Since laying the foundation of his own theatre company in 1987, Delbono has managed to captivate a large variety of audiences who were fascinated by the power of the emotions and the authentic experience that emanate from his eclectic performances. Among his most famous plays, there are Dopo la Battaglia (After the Battle), Orchidee (Orchids), Vangelo (Gospel, performed during FITS 2017) and La Gioia (Joy). The latter will be performed at FITS 2019, on June 20 and 21.
I am especially honored to receive this award in Romania, a country I love because it bears the signs of pain, the wounds, too. But also, so much sweetness. In Romania I feel like in a second home of mine. This accolade makes me happy. Even if awards always correspond to moments which bring to you to understand where you are, where you were and they must give you the courage to start again from that point on. As Pier Paolo Pasolini used to say: “We need to start again from where there is no certitude”.
We will take a small detour from the world of actors and directors with the presentation of the next award,. The star goes to choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. He made his debut in 1999 in Andrew Wale’s musical, Anonymous Society, and since then he has won numerous international awards for more than 50 choreographies that he has created. Since 2015, he is artistic director of Royal Ballet Flanders and he has collaborated with a large number of theatre, ballet and opera companies, including with director Joe Wright for the choreography of the film Anna Karenina, with Damien Jalet and Marina Abramović for the performance of Boléro or with Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev for Mercy. In 2014, he directed Shell Shock for La Monnaie opera house, a musical opera including music composed by Nicholas Lens and lyrics by Nick Cave, and in 2015 he produced his first theatre-only performance based on an award-winning manga series. The audience of FITS 2019 will be able to witness the result of his collaboration with Irish dancer Colin Dunne in Session, a performance that wants to explore the boundaries of the relationship between music and movement.
I am really touched. I am very proud. I can’t believe it. It is a new kind of experience for me, also because I am just a choreographer in Belgium from Moroccan descent so I am always very very impressed when suddenly my work gets recognized in other countries or in other places. I am very proud and very, you know, humble and moved. I fell very lucky to have been selected for this. (Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui on receiving a star on the Walk of Fame)
Another great personality of European theatre who will receive a star this year on the Sibiu Walk of Fame is Michael Thalheimer, actor and director born in Germany. He started his directing career in 1997 at Chemnitz Theatre, but he made his breakthrough in 2000 when he directed Liliom by Ferenc Molnár for the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg and then with an adaptation of the film Festen by Thomas Vinterberg for Staatsschauspiel Dresden. Both performances received awards at the Berlin festival Theatertreffen. Michael Thalheimer brings an adaptation of Peer Gynt by Ibsen to Sibiu, which premiered in 2018 at Dramaten Theatre in Sweden. When asked about the theme of FITS 2019, the art of giving, Michael Thalheimer said that „every theatre performance of quality gives something to the audience. In the best moments the public can feel that they are not alone in a world full of problems. And a curious audience always give their energy back to the stage. That’s why theatre is not conceivable without a public.”
The sixth star of this year’s edition of the festival goes to Stan Lai, declared by the New York Times as “one of the most celebrated Chinese-language playwrights and directors”. Lai was born in 1954 in USA and started his career in the 1980s in Taiwan where he founded his own theatre group and presently he is a playwright, screenwriter, film and theatre director. All his plays are original works that playfully tackle universal subjects but, although these have become the most famous plays in the Chinese language, most of them had not been officially available throughout continental China until 2006. Stan Lai is artistic director of the Performance Workshop (Taipei), Theatre Above (Shanghai) and executive chairman of the Wuzhen Theatre Festival. This year’s FITS audience has the opportunity to witness the most famous and most played performance in modern China, “Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land”, directed by Bogdan Sărătean.
Regarding this year’s festival theme, Stan Lai says:
“Here are my words on The Art of Giving:
“May I be a lamp for those in darkness,
A guide to those traveling the path,
A boat, or bridge, for those wishing to cross the river.
May I be like the sky, providing space for all to grow.”
by Alexandra Coroi
Ilustration: Valentina Bădeanu
translated by Sorina Tomulețiu