Living Statues International Festival

LIVING STATUES FESTIVAL

Among those arts that can be performed out in the street, that of the living statue holds a special place. Mysterious, surprising, often funny, sometimes profound,one can not go by a living statue without noticing it. And that is because it’s power to catch the eye like a magnet, to incite one to react and to meditate on the subject of human condition. One can not easily forget the image of a well composed living statue, that is for sure.  Any turist who was in Barcelona would have undoubtedly seen the human statues of La Rambla, for example. Strange is the power of the living statues if it can easily hold its place among against the works of Gaudi.

So, what IS a living statue?

Apparently the answer is quite simple. The living statue is an actor, wearing make-up and a costume as to imitate a statue, able to stand still for a long period of time, thus misleading the audience. But this would be an incomplete answer, as it disregards the art of the actor, his special training, his extraordinary ability to interact with the audience aroundand to improvise. And, maybe the most important element of all, one has to think about the joy of giving the audience a subject on which to meditate, a story to discover behind the costume and make-up, by meeting each and everyone’s own playful self.

The living statue represents the most concentrated form of street theatre, a chance for every actor to become a master of its art. There are so many interesting steps that one has to overcome in becoming a good or great actor. The living statue is a kind of abridged edition of becoming one, the signature of a great master that has reached the top of his skills.

In this regard, it is only natural for us, as an institution, to organise this festival, considering our concerns, the entire evolution of our theater, our social and cultural discourse that we assumed and the importance we gave during two decades to descovering and imposing a particular pedagogical style. The living statue thesis holds a central role in our pedagogical discourse and thw way we see it revolutionized the generally accepted view. As a matter of fact, throughout Europe we are witnessing a general shift of perspective regarding the derogatory way in which the subject has been treated. In Barcelona and Rome, the local authorities discussed about imposing professsional criteria as to limit or even prohibit the presence of amateur performers on the streets. At Arnhem, in Holland, takes place what can be regarded as the global competition in the field, an International Festival rising every year the standards that could become mandatory for the professionals of this art.

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For the third time, we are going to see a festival that is unique to Romania, offered by Masca Theatre in Herastrau Park, between 21 and 24 June 2013. The third Living Statues Festival promises to take the people of Bucharest on a journey through the history of our capital city, from the mid-19th century to present day, with a show that will reveal the destinies of famous cultural figures.

The festival, whose motto is a phrase by Tudor Arghezi – “With a Walking Stick around Bucharest” – will be run in various key areas of Herastrau Park: Charles De Gaulle Entrance, Modura Fountain and Expoflora; the festival programme is available on the official site of Masca Theatre.

This year, guests from the UK, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine will try to reveal stories from their own cities.

In 2012, when I participated for the first time in a festival of this kind, I experienced an original theatrical performance in which talented actors tried to bring to the stage a whole range of emotions only through their suggestive facial expressions and their approach to representing their characters.

The Bucharest of yore will visit the Bucharest of present day; we will be transported through time, even if only for a few moments spent with the actors, into an age when we were less in a hurry, we had time to watch, to listen, to think, and especially to love…

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Friday, 21 June 2013, saw the beginning of the third International Living Statues Festival by Masca Theatre; our very own Bucharest was filled with colour, with old – but eternal – stories, with fantasy and mystery, all in Herastrau Park. For four days, the actors of Masca Theatre brought us joy with unique and special performances, they charmed us and let themselves be admired in all their splendour. Everyone who wished to visit and have a glance at the Festival had a lot to choose from: living statues welcomed us at every step, various fairytale scenes were constantly unfolding in various parts of the park, with repeated reruns throughout the day and well into the night, sometimes even after 10 PM.

On the first day of the Festival, I was happy to be greeted by the CHIMNEY SWEEPS, a wonderful show, full of energy and a generous source of good luck – that’s what they say, isn’t it? They were extremely cheerful, funny, and entertaining!

THE CHIMNEY SWEEPS

To my eyes, the park and the city were out of this world for four days: it was all enchanted and utterly imbued with a special flavour. Once you were there, you barely noticed when time passed and when the night fell. Walking around, watching everyone, you let yourself be captivated and you stepped into their world, into their stories and their games… What a wonderful sensation – when you feel you belong to the same landscape as them, when you feel and understand their message, when it all hits right home?

How would it not, when ANGELS were raised in the middle of the park, with their large wings upwind, their hands as if describing circles in the air, in the sky? Three angels seemed to watch over the Festival and mesmerized viewers young and old!

THE ANGELS

One of the most touching moments of the Festival was definitely DESTINY: EMINESCU, MIHAI and MICLE, VERONICA! A 20-minute scene made me feel I was watching the wonderful actors for over an hour… I was so captivated by the performance of the two actors, that, at one point, I was no longer in a park. Thanks to them, to the music, the voices, the costumes, and the backdrop, I felt I was there, in those times, in that story. Every time I saw the scene again, I analysed each movement, each look, each gesture – it was all a thrilling experience… There was had an air of mystery that I eagerly inhaled. The sensitivity, delicacy, and beauty of this moment are unique. Without seeing it, you cannot realise how majestic, how spectacular, and how frail it is. You feel it in you heart and that is where it stays. There were daily performances and there was always a big audience. It was a pleasure to watch the faces of the people around me when they saw the two beautiful actors, dressed in white from head to toe, a pure white that was sometimes blinding, when touched by the bright sunshine. The graceful actors, imbued with fantasy and delicacy, left behind them the scent of the old story as they walked along the pathway, then taking their places on the stage set up just for them! The rounds of applause were impressive, both as they entered the pathway and as they left the stage.

Each day of the Festival added to the enchantment – I managed to completely disconnect from everything else, and I let myself carried away by the wonderful, inebriating rhythm.

Well, the second day offered more beautiful moments, just what people need to experience. Most shows were performed every day, so I got the chance to enjoy every rerun. Of course, the second day offered us the delightful performance of PIERROT THE MADMAN, a fantastic, wildly entertaining show, with a lot of humour. The audience joined in, communicated with the actors; laughter and applause filled the air.

The last day was also a full day. These four days were a true lesson for me – a lesson in life, in professionalism, in endurance. I watched excitedly how, despite the suffocating heat, the actors – such beautiful people – performed all day long, and flawlessly; warm costumes, many wigs and a lot of makeup. Sweat was dripping from every line of their faces, but they stayed in character to the very end, bringing joy to the audience, and offering smiles and taking bows at the end.

Clearly, the actors and the entire theatrical profession have deserved and will always deserve the smiles, applause and bows of the audience!

I take a bow in their honour, with all my love, respect and admiration! I thank you for the beauty, the emotional wealth and the warmth you offer!

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I am not sure if Mihai Malaimare is truly aware of what he is doing with the shows he is giving, now, for instance, in Herastrau Park in Bucharest. I am not sure if he can sense the waves of happiness going through our souls, the souls of those who watch him and his troupe… The “statues”, clothed in sophisticated costumes, are standing still or “moving” under the scorching sun – acting, singing, miming, with a professionalism and talent that words can barely describe. I watched and I couldn’t believe that in my city, which is invaded by foreign-language signs, by speed and indifference, a handful of people are offering (giving away for free!) so much joy, respect and even sacrifice to simple passers-by… You wonderful actors – you will never know it, but our silence expresses all our gratitude as we bow before you!…

Bucharest is a real time capsule – in this respect, it rivals the great enigmatic landmarks of the world. This year’s festival aims to reveal some of the unseen beauty of a capital city crossed by the strange lines that link the East and the West. Mihai Malaimare, Manager of Masca Theatre

read more in Ziarul Metropolis > http://www.ziarulmetropolis.ro/video-astazi-se-incheie-festivalul-international-de-statui-vivante-din-bucuresti/

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