Savas Patsalidis: I saw impressive acting

Savas Patsalidis is a theatre critic and professor from Greece, editor-in-chief of the online journal Critical Stages produced by the International Association of Theatre Critics. He was guest of the festival and Anita Angelova spoke with him about the productions he saw.

This is my second time here in Varna as a guest. I generally like small scale festivals because they give you the opportunity to meet people and they are more compact. In other words, they have a better focus compared to large festivals that have hundreds of shows where you get really lost. So, one thing I like about Varna Festival is this atmosphere of closeness and the feeling that you get to know the artists, you get to know all the people involved, and that makes you feel at home. For me this is a very important thing. I also like the productions. I don’t like super big productions. I find more interesting kind of compact productions that have more performative elements. I’ve been here already for three days, and I’ve seen about four or five shows. I started with “Fat Pig” but let me say what I really liked in all the shows. I really liked the acting.

I enjoyed the acting in “Fat Pig”, for example. There was no translation and I do not speak Bulgarian. However, I was so deeply Involved in the show that I thought “Oh, my God, all actors were excellent”. This was valid also for “Lungs”. The actress was a dynamite! She was like a volcano! She had passion and she had energy.

About “You Shouldn’t Have Said So!”, I have to say that Salome Lelouch knows the theatre. I laughed, I enjoyed it. I just have one comment. There are just too many topics. She could have isolated a couple of things and focus on those two or three where she could dig in deeper. Instead, she decided to use what I call tv zapping technique by giving you a series of images without the underneath text. She wanted to create a panorama of contemporary issues, gender issues, gay issues, all kinds of issues, but each issue required development, and she chose not to do that.

Now concerning the highlight of the festival, Jernej Lorenci’s “Orpheus”. I know his work because he also came to Thessaloniki, I know his “Iliad”, which is one of his best works. Watching the show, I had the impression that there was something lacking dramaturgically. In other words, I expected a more compact dramaturgy to put things together. I thought despite the good acting, despite the excellent voices, despite the explosions of the director’s imagination, I found that there was too much of everything. What I didn’t see, was a focal point, this idea of things coming together in a more compact way at the end of the show. Despite that, I think that it was a very rich and kind of cutting-edge production characteristic of  Lorenci, who is a talented director. He knows the theatre very well and because of that sometimes he misses what we call the stage economy. What “Orpheus” was lacking, was a stronger sense of stage economy.

This year I like that I saw more Bulgarian performances at the festival because you can watch international productions at other festivals, and I wanted to have a better look at Bulgarian theatre. As I said, what I found very impressive was the acting. Very good actors! That means they come from a good acting school and that is something that I will write about in my review of the festival. Most of the directors of the productions that I saw took the risk of putting all the emphasis on the actors. Which means that they rely on the talent of the actor, and I think the actors did a very good job on their own.

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