Theatre director Ioana Petre remembers “Pretend It’s Raining”, a special event she organized with Ilinca Radulian in 2009: “The Capitol Summer Theatre chose me”
Ioana Petre is theatre director. She is known as a director of great analytical force and a rare subtlety. She graduated two faculties in Bucharest, one in Foreign Languages (German-English) and one in Theatre Directing. Throughout her career she has worked on numerous shows staged in Romania and abroad, at Bulandra Theatre, Ion Creangă Theatre in Bucharest, Comedy Theatre in Bucharest, Bucharest Opera, Iasi Opera, Basel Theatre. One of the most important collaborations Ioana ever had is that of Andrei Şerban and she confessed he is still the best teacher she ever had. Ioana directed various performances, from children’s theatre plays, to opera plays. Now she lives in Germany at Weimar, where she works as an assistant director at the State Opera and where she is involved in several artistic projects. She likes out of the box ideas and less conventional working spaces.
One of them is the Capitol Summer Theatre that she saw for the first time in the summer of 2009, by chance. Strolling one day in front of Teatrul Mic on Constantin Mille street, Ioana noticed the green drawings made there by the street artist Alexandru Ciubotariu, aka Pisica Pătrată. They raised her curiosity and she looked more closely. When she reached home, Ioana searched for more on the Internet and so she met Save or Cancel. She remembers that it was very easy to get permission to make an event there. Actually, it was not Ioana who chose the place, but rather it was the other way round – The Capitol Summer Theatre appeared on her roads and she felt the need to make a theatrical event there.
At that time, her good friend Ilinca Radulian – a young graduate from Harvard – was in Romania, so they took the opportunity and thought together what it would be appropriate to do in that space. Pretend It’s Raining was a project that faced the actor and the spectator under an umbrella.
“We came up with several ideas, but we had to choose something easy to achieve with our own resources, to tempt the actors because they were going to play for free and at the same time very special for the public in order to get them to come there. We had been together at several festivals, and we already had a long line of ideas that we wanted to develop or test, inspired more or less by what we had seen or discussed before. We chose to make “the umbrellas“, that is, to dress a few large umbrellas in some material, and underneath to hide an actor. One person (sometimes we accepted as many as two) could come under the umbrella and thus have a story told by an actor or an actress.”
It was not raining at all, on the contrary, it was a really hot August day, yet Ioana and Ilinca used seven umbrellas that anyone who was curious could enter, for a unique experience with an actor or an actress. Every umbrella had its own story, with an actor and a spectator in turn, and all the umbrellas were strolling inside the Capitol Summer Theatre. Ilinca too wanted to test the performance and hid under an umbrella. Looking back, Ioana regrets that she did not have the courage to try.
They chose together several texts by Orkeny Istvan, an author they were both very fond of, and whose short stories were perfect for this event. Ioana wanted also to include a story that she liked a lot, written by Simona Popescu. They asked some friends if they wanted to participate and they were surprised to see that many of them would accept the challenge: Iulia Brezeanu, Raluca Botez, Lucia Elvira Butnariu, Radu Craciun, Irina Drăgănescu, Monica Săndulescu and Sorina Ştefănescu.
They were nervous about it because it was an unusual theatrical experiment, and no one knew what would happen at the Capitol, whether the audience would come, and especially how it would react. However, quite a lot of people made their appearance with great curiosity, and for most of them it was quite a pleasant and interesting surprise, and under the umbrellas, there were three and even four pairs of legs coming out.
Gruia, a friend of Ioana who came to the event, recalls: “As a spectator, you needed a bit of courage to go under an umbrella asking,” May I? ” or “Is it free?” and nose in the nose with the actor, to feel his breath as he recites and maybe even wipe it off your cheek. But do not get me wrong, being so close to the actor is a very cool experience, it’s another level, it’s different. It resembles the situation when it’s raining cats and dogs, you have no umbrella, but you see someone who does, you brace yourself and ask the person to share the umbrella until the bus comes or the rain stops, while you socialize under the umbrella, you spend your time sharing stories.”
It was great because both actors and spectators had a new experience and fun with each other.
In Weimar, where Ioana lives and works at the city opera since August 2017, there is a rehabilitated space she particularly likes called e.werk.
The National Theatre in Weimar has here a building used as a performance space, there is a cinema with three halls and annually there is an urban festival at e.werk. The space is used for the most diverse activities, from theatre plays, outdoor cinema and concerts to workshops, exhibitions, public readings, flee markets and fairs, parties and activities for children.
In the perspective of the rehabilitation of the Capitol Summer Theatre, Ioana Petre wishes to see here special events, similar to the one she and Ilinca Radulian organized in 2009.
“I was very excited about your initiative and I know that you continued to organize events and call for projects. I’m also glad that the space was not rehabilitated, but it kept its wildness which hides such incredibly beautiful details. Of course, it would be wonderful to have a kind of rehabilitation as discreet as possible, in order to have the opportunity to constantly organize events there. I would like those events to be special, as the space demands. Perhaps some silent movies with live music, concerts with video-mapping, great things to match this absolutely wonderful place.”
The caryatides on the stage of the Capitol Summer Theatre certainly remember that wonderful August day when it rained with emotion. If you look at them better, they seem to dream. Maybe of a new experience of this kind, with Ioana and Ilinca and other friends of the place. And dreams often come true. Stay tuned 🙂
Learn more about the CAPITOL Cinema / Summer Theatre and the awareness campaign here.
The multi-annual cultural program “cultural hub Cinema / Summer Theatre CAPITOL” is co-funded by AFCN. The program does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the program or the way the program results can be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.
Organizer: Save or Cancel
Partners: CNDB, Teatrul Mic, Cinema Marconi, RADEF, Monumente Uitate/ Asociația ARCHÉ, Calup, Mellow Drinks, Plaja de Carte, Someș Delivery, Augmented Space Agency, Universitatea de Arhitectură și Urbanism “Ion Mincu”, Anuala de Arhitectură
Media partners: Zeppelin, IQads, Smark, Assamblage, Dizainăr, Iqool, anyplace.ro, feeder.ro, the Institute, designist
About Save or Cancel
Since 2008, Save or Cancel is a medium of communication and propagation of the arts and culture, promoting and facilitating their role in contemporary society.
The self-initiated multidisciplinary programs of Save or Cancel aim to identify sustainable and adaptable opportunities for (re) valorization of the existence through architectural, cultural and editorial projects.