Between 4 – 8 June Varna Summer Theatre Festival hosted for the second time an international workshop for young theatre critics organized by the International Association of Theatre Critics and the Homo Ludens Foundation. We asked some of the participants to tell us more about their experiences in the workshop.
Samuel Gleuze-Esteban, France
Samuel, you participated in the workshop for young theatre critics held during the festival and you were in the group mentored by Jean-Pierre Han. Would you tell us what did you do in your sessions, what did you learn from them?
The workshop went for five days and each evening we watched the shows in the festival programme with English translation, so mainly the Showcase programme and the international productions. Each morning we debated around the works we saw the day before. We were exchanging our impressions, writing about the shows. The workshop was mostly a space for reflection about the work of criticism and what it is to be a critic and what it is to write a critique, how to do it and why to do it in a certain way. I don’t see it so much as a class, but rather as a space of reflection and collective thinking about criticism and the works that we watched. We were two groups – the English-speaking group mentored by Ivan Medenica and the French speaking group mentored, as you said, by Jean-Pierre Han. I really liked it, it was very interesting to be able to meet other young critics from all around the world. That helps us situate our activity and meet a network of people who do the same thing and who also would like to exchange ideas and their vision. It’s interesting because as critics, we are caught up in our work, but we almost never take time to reflect on what we are doing and how to do it for it to be good. In our group we found that we agree on many aspects. We had different opinions on the works we saw, but we had a lot of agreements as well.
And what do you think about the performances in the festival programme that you watched?
There were some good and there were some less good works, at least in my opinion. I was very excited about “Orpheus”. I was quite impressed by the way the myth was handled. Everything that happened on the stage was impressive – the presence of the actors but also how the director stages everything with big generosity and intelligence. I was really amazed by these incredible actors. Overall, Jernej Lorenci is a very beautiful discovery, I didn’t know about him, we don’t see him in France. So that’s part of the thing, of doing this workshop – to be able to discover works from other regions of the world.
We saw also the work by Rabih Mroué “Riding on a cloud”. It was a very different and intelligent way of weaving together political history and a very intimate one. In my opinion, in the performance the video was used in a very beautiful way, the images, the sound and the articulation between them. It’s a very sensitive work and a very intelligent one as well. Those are my two highlights from the festival.
Marina Nikovaeva, Bulgaria, about her participation in the English-speaking group of the workshop
In the framework of the international festival “Varna Summer” I had the pleasure to be part of the English-speaking group of the seminar for young theatre critics. Our mentor was Ivan Medenica. We were among the audiences of both Bulgarian and international productions, which gave an interesting direction for our discussions during the seminar. I think what was valuable was that we were able to exchange different perspectives on the shows we watched, but we also tried to look at the theatrical reality from different angles. During our discussions we focused on different approaches and methods of writing a review, but we were also able to talk about many other genres, both in media outlets and more specialized theatre journals. We had participants from Poland, Ukraine and Greece in our group and during the workshop we were also able to discuss how to look at a performance within an international festival, and we also gained insight into other such forums. I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge and skills, along with being part of an extremely friendly environment and I hope to keep the connections with it.
Anita Angelova and Jacqueline Dobreva prepared the material.