02 June 2012

Welcome to Romania!

I landed in Cluj late last night, and as I was standing in the passport control line, I noticed that there was a sign for the Transylvania International Film Festival. Really? Transylvania has enough pull to get people to come to a film festival? From OUTSIDE Transylvania? That was not the first, nor would it be the last, time that I allowed myself an errant small-town-in-the-sticks joke.  Here's one of the posters from the film festival - it's based on an unusual folk art from an area of Romania 250km from here, where the 'Merry Cemetery' features gravestones with cartoons and poems about how the deceased met their demise:

Eli and Delia picked me up at the airport and had me back the hotel and checked in in an hour. The hotel is fine, with high ceilings and nasty beds (S - we'll have to get you some extra blankets for padding).  I slept about 4 hours and then woke for breakfast (meats, cheeses, breads, tomato) with Eli and a day of rehearsal.  Rehearsal was swell - we got through the show during the afternoon and worked through the first third again in the evening session. Here's a shot of the clowns rehearsing a warrior sequence:

In between rehearsal sessions, Eli and I had lunch with Mihai (the artistic director) and Anka (a theatre scholar at one of the big universities in Cluj - also, she and Mihai are married). I had some lovely pork rib with braised red cabbage.  After rehearsal, Eli and I met up with some of the cast at a pub called Godfather's for beer and conversation. I didn't last long, as I'm still jetlagged. After the pub, I came back to the hotel to work on notes from rehearsal.

First impressions of Cluj & Romania - a run-down city with lots of potential for greatness, a huge intellectual & artistic scene (lots of universities and cultural events), city-dwellers who are passionate and proud of their city, and lots of friendly faces.

Now, to bed!  Tomorrow is another big day of rehearsal!

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