|Please tell us about this year’s Sibiu festival program. Will you be appearing as an actor this year?
Unfortunately, I will not be performing on stage this time (laughs).
We will have participants from 70 countries performing at 62 sites around Sibiu. This year’s festival theme is innovation. However, we write it in a way that shows two components of innovation and ovation. Under this two-part theme we hope to make this a festival that emphasizes both creation and innovation.
Participants from Japan on this year’s program include a production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus by Yamanote Jijosha and a production of Brecht’s Der Bettler oder Der tote Hund by the Tokyo Acting Troupe KAZE. In addition we have planned two joint production projects on the program this year. One is a joint production of ZAHAK directed by Izumi Ashizawa using actors from Japan, the US, Iran and Romania. The second is a project I am particularly interested in that brings together comedians from three countries, Japan’s Kyogen artist Shigeyama Sennojo, Alessandro Margetti of Italy’s Commedia Dell’Arte and the Swiss clown Dimitri. These will premiere at the Sibiu festival and then tour around Europe. This is the Year of Danube and the tour will visit cities along the Danube, the castle of Mircea Dinescu and sites in Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary. The finale will be at Linz, another European Capital of Culture.
We will also continue the volunteer program, including 18 volunteers from Japan.
Will there be performances of Faust?
There will. Our Faust has been officially invited to the Edinburgh festival as well. It will be one of the main works at our festival this year with five performances. It will be at a space called Expo Pavilion and we are told that they will renovate it especially to our requirements for this production.
Will you tell us now about the Radu Stanca Theater? How is it related to your festival?
Radu Stanca is a co-organizer of the Sibiu festival. For example, on this year’s program Radu Stanca has prepared 11 productions. The theater’s repertoire consists of 58 varied works, ranging from Greek tragedy and Shakespeare to highly experimental works. This year the theater will present 14 new works. These constitute a total of 30 performances which will be held over the course of a month not only at Radu Stanca, but five or six other venues in the city.
As for the organization, the Radu Stanca Theater employs a total of 140 people. The breakdown is 60 actors, the administrative departments (including the Foundation) employs 20, 14 are employed in marketing and international relations and the remainder are technical staff. This enables to run performances of two or three productions at the same time. The only full-time director we employ is Radu Alexandru Nica. He is a young and very capable director. In addition, we invite many guest directors, both from Romania and famous international directors, to create productions. For example, this year Silviu Purcarete will be directing two productions and Andry Zholdak will direct one. We have plans to invite directors from France, Luxemburg, Croatia, Russia and well-known directors from Romania. Although the details are not finalized yet, we plan to invite Kushida-san to direct a work in 2011.
A festival as large as Sibiu requires a very large budget. How large is the budget actually and how do you raise the necessary funds?
In terms of audience and number of stages, Sibiu has become the third largest theater festivals in Europe. However, in terms of budget we only rank 87th among the world’s festivals (laughs), so we don’t really have that much money [the actual figure was about $10 million in 2008].
As one of the largest international cultural events in Romania, we receive support from the President, and there is also direct support from the government. So we receive funding from variety of institutions, including the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the Foreign Ministry, the state government and the city of Sibiu. These account for about 35% of our budget.
Another 30% of our support comes from international projects from Europe and around the world. Ticket sales account for about 10% of the budget. The rest comes from sponsors. We also receive a lot of support from the media, including Romania’s national television and radio, five commercial networks and nine other well-known media.
I have before me right now the program from the 2007 festival and the number of sponsors from the private sector is impressive. Among these the support from Coca Cola appears especially prominent.
Yes. It is one of our main sponsors. There are a large number of outdoor venues in the festival and performances at the old city square alone attract audiences of 30,000 to 40,000. The amount of Coca Cola sold at these venues is considerable. Due to the conditions of the contract, I cannot reveal the actual amount, but we do receive a very large amount of support from them.
Do you do the negotiations for contracts like this?
Our team makes the appointments but I always do the actual negotiations personally. Regarding our program contents, I have a team that supplies me with a lot of information and opinions, not only on the Romanian scene but also internationally, but I am the one who makes the final decisions. The preparations for each festival begin approximately two years in advance. For example in the case of Japan, by the end of March we have decided or list of candidates for invitations to perform at the next year’s festival. For these negotiations I travel overseas often, and until now this has included visits to 101 countries around the world. I have been to Japan eight times and my visits to France, for example, have now topped 100.
You are also active as an actor, so you naturally need time for your own rehearsals. What’s more, you serve as Director of Radu Stanca. How do you mange to schedule in all that work?
I also teach at the university level (laughs). First of all I have to stress what a highly capable team I have working with me and how important their role is in supporting my activities. This is a team that I have gathered and they have become highly proficient and capable in their jobs while working with me. Each of them is given a lot of decision-making voice and they work with a high level of responsibility. My activities are spread over a wide range of fields, from the theater company and the festival to teaching activities in the university drama faculty and the theater management faculty, and in each of these areas I have highly qualified people in charge assisting me and making the work flow smoothly. It is a unique system that I don’t think you will find many precedents for anywhere in the world.
I believe that Sibiu today serves as a model case of a smaller regional city achieving very significant development in a number of aspects through the arts and culture. With the Sibiu International Theater Festival as a core program, the city has achieved high levels of development in areas ranging from the city’s economy and tourism to education and democracy. I think it is a rare case, even when look at from a global perspective.
We have maintained a record of continuing sell-outs for the tickets to the theater productions staged by our company at Radu Stanca. Also, our younger actors and drama students actively maintain a pipeline of communication with the citizens of the city at venues where people gather, like bars and discos. This is part of our system of encouraging understanding of the appeal of theater. In this way, we connect closely to the populace, not only at the theater but outside the theater as well. Of course, I also participate in these activities, particularly at a restaurant in Sibiu called Max.