Javor Gardev: Today the fears are the same everywhere

Theatre maker Javor Gardev is one of the most regular presences in the festival programme. This year, its selection includes his production “You Shouldn’t Have Said So!” by the popular French author, director and actress Salomé Lelouch. Dessislava Vassileva talks to the director.

“You Shouldn’t Have Said So!” is the latest play by French author Salomé Lelouch. It is an outspoken comedy, touching upon serious and important themes in the everyday life of modern individual. In general, you rarely stage comedies. How did this one win you over?

With its incredible wit. Personally, I’m very picky about humour being sustained, playing with the absurd, provoking long associative chains, being linguistically skillful, and ultimately leaving you with a good feeling about life, no matter how unfortunate. I think Salomé Lelouch achieves all of these things simultaneously. Her theatre plays are extremely intelligent and at the same time sensitive to modern individual. She reveals a great deal of their problems while remaining generous and unsparing. These are rare qualities of a writer that I adore.

“You Shouldn’t Have Said So!” Photo: Stephan N. Shterev

The text reveals the huge yawning pit , which dissolves today between the public and the true face of man. You have made a special adaptation of it for the Bulgarian context. Did you encounter any difficulties in transferring the French realities to the Bulgarian ones?

No, because the text does not need to be adapted at all. Quite without any changes, except for a few personal names and a few topographical realities, the text was seamlessly at home in our environment. So to speak, it was localized without changing anything about the characters. Today the characters have the same fears everywhere. They are recognizable no matter which city of Europe they inhabit. In this respect, Snezhina Zdravkova’s translation work was already completely done. I had the easier task of simply locating the action in another city of the European Union, which is not particularly difficult with such a universally evocative text and such a good translation.

Javor Gardev

The dialogue in the play is extremely dynamic.  In it, Teodora Dukhovnikova and Zachary Bakharov use words as a kind of weapon against each other. Is dialogue losing its power to connect today?

On the contrary, only the first impression is that dialogue divides. After all, it turns out that endless arguing can also be a means of maintaining closeness. Especially since the characters, tired of arguing, gradually change over the course of the action and begin to gain a deeper insight into each other’s perspective. In a sense, they even swap their original positions, changing internally almost to their opposite, taking on the traits of their opponent. This is a serious dramaturgical skill.

What are the main qualities of the two actors you wanted to bring out in this performance?

Reflectiveness, and sharp and quick thinking. These skills, harnessed in the action, begin to accumulate solid emotional buildups that quickly ricochet off the audience and form a sustained self-sustaining circle of energetic exchange with them.


“You Shouldn’t Have Said So!” Photo: Stephan N. Shterev

Svila Velichkova’s set design masterfully captures the conflicts and tensions in the show, and it’s all in the dark range.  

Leading the work with Svila was a desire for all of us to get away from the vicious need to depict literal settings, to give the audience readable benchmarks through which to explain the space. We wanted to find a solution that was equally metaphorical and functional without being in any way representational, explanatory or illustrative.


Meeting with Salomé Lelouch and Javor Gardev

5th June, 16:00 h, Drama Theatre – Foyer I balcony

In French with Bulgarian

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