A director of his own – Day 12

By gently drumming with his fingers and crinkling a plastic bag Tamás Keresztes is creating rain, a humid, cold afternoon in late Autumn, then he opens an umbrella and stands underneath the rain. This is how Diary of a Madman starts, with a witty theatrical gag, after which we see him evolve as Poprishchin who directs, awe-inspiringly and with talent, his journey into insanity and curates, brilliantly, his own misery. Keresztes uses everything so inventively – the loop station, the set, the props, and any tools, including his own body – that one can easily think that he as an actor is capable of all and to top it all, without much effort.

When challenged with a solo piece in theatre, one often returns to Gogol’s short story, as the idea of madness is understandably an attractive task for an actor but is also probably why it is hard to avoid the traps of the monodramatic situation and the original material: the traps of exhibitionism and romanticising the madness, namely. In Bodó’s directing the tradition of clown act à la Keaton and Chaplin is evident, this serves as the platform, the frame and also as a folding screen for Keresztes’s work but without Bodó corrupting his temperament as an actor. He is markedly a true clown and whatever he does on those 4 square metres, that have no real floor, roof or edges, is harrowingly funny. On the other hand, the performance tackles the social respects of the story, too: what role does poverty, social inequality, defencelessness play in someone going mad (although the performance does not see these in a causal relation), and how does it become an extreme possibility to revenge on your superiors, to fulfil yourself in your fantasy, to live in this power position. It might sound strange but it becomes a gesture of correction one through which human dignity can, for mere seconds, be restored.

Yesterday afternoon there was also a book launch co-organised by the Romanian Cultural Institute: Gigi Căciuleanu: OmulDans (DancingMan) was presented by its author and editor, Ludmila Patlanjoglu, who summarised the professional career and works of Gigi Căciuleanu, a choreographer who had emigrated to France in 1972, where he currently lives and works. Căciuleanu started his career with classical ballet and ended up doing contemporary dance and was himself present at the event: he immediately jumped from his seat when he was given the opportunity to talk. It was as if he were dancing for us stories from his life – he talked casually and enthusiastically about his teachers and colleagues, about what it meant to work together with Miriam Răducanu or Pina Bausch, about how he finally understood the relationship between movement and thought. Patlanjoglu said that their idea was to invite the reader into a great journey into the life and work of the artist: the book, in this sense, offers not so much a theoretical approach but, rather, essayistic texts accompanied by a series of visual materials showcasing Căciuleanu’s career and relevant works.