FESTIVAL WATCH | Performance actions teem in Bulgaria’s festival for independent theater

"Quark Time," a theater installation in Bulgaria

“Quark Time,” a theater installation in Bulgaria

SOFIA | This year’s ACT Festival for Independent Theatre in Sofia, Bulgaria, turns three years old. Taking place November 7 to 10, the festival promotes the independent performing scene, supports the presentation of a new form for the country – the performative action – as well as proposes specific solutions for the development of the independent field and its recognition.

I wish I could be in Sofia right now, as I think In the Culture of One World can do a lot toward making Bulgarian theater better known around the world. I have had the pleasure of visiting Bulgarian theater and writing about its major theater scenes. As editor and writer, I have featured Bulgarian directors and playwrights in publications, both online and in print. But at the time I visited the independent theater was still incipient. The emergence of ACT Festival signals a positive new turn for underground work to flourish.

Of particular interest would the November 9, Open Space Forum, which organizers say “will explore several key factors in the development of contemporary culture that we consider important. They are: the development of international partnerships, the establishment of independent art spaces, as well as the development of new audiences and international mobility of artists and creative products.” 

Among the 30 productions, which demonstrates how the independent sector acts and what it produces locally (albeit with minimal resources), one will find strong plays (Replica Association’s Two Poor Romanians Speaking Polish) and adaptations of Bulgarian classics (Theatre Studio 313″s The Machine of Yan Bibiyan, based on motifs by Bulgarian Elin Pelin, as adapted and directed by Peter Pashov). But the bulk of the works defying genres.

Quark Time by the Contemporary Alternative Art and Culture Organization 36 Monkeys takes place in the former Cinema Macedonia (5 Pirotska Str.) and presents a theater installation. Here is the description:

Between its bare brick walls space and time will be explored through an original artistic interpretation of the scientific understanding of the concept of time. A performance in which everyone present changes the course of the show, moving between the objects of the installation. Among them the audience is likely to meet two quarks. They can be identified by their colored helmets, but their presence will be revealed on air by the presenter of the radio interview and his guest physicist.

Featuring a cast that includes Angelina Gavrilova, Peter Meltev, Ivaylo Milenkov and Nathan Cooper, the piece is a collaboration between director Gergana Dimitrova, the physicist Ivaylo Milenkov, and the designer Elevna Shopova.

These performative actions were selected on the basis of an open call the produced 17 proposals.

Americans may take heart of a Bulgarian-American collaboration that will be performed at SOHO – Sofia Holistic Co-working Company (4, Iskar str.). It is called Heart Happens. Performed in English with Bulgarian supertitles, the play was written during a series of workshops organized in Baltimore and Sofia jointly by Lola Pearson and Ida Daniel with the financial support of Towson University. Featuring Naomi Klein, Cricket Arrison and Geoff Graham, the performance opened in October 2013 in Baltimore. In Sofia, it is presented as a video installation. Heart Happens, the release says, “explores chance, falling into parts and life without a heart.”

Sounds like a work of performance design to me. -rg

"Heart Happens," a Bulgarian and American collaboration

“Heart Happens,” a Bulgarian and American collaboration

АCT Festival is organized by ACT Association. The project is implemented with the financial support of Ministry of Culture, National Fund Culture and Program Culture 2013 of Sofia Municipality. 

The project is implemented in support of Sofia and Southwest Region for European Capital of Culture Candidate 2019.

Find the details about the Festival and the Forum.


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