by Costi Rogozanu
Why would I go to the theatre? Why would I go out for “art consumption”? Certainly not to look for something “nice” or to change the scenery for a while. The need for bourgeois catharsis can be easily fulfilled at home by downloading texts, films and music online. No. I only go out to a performance for its message. I only go out when I feel that the artists are “my guys”, that they’d like to get together and break some windows (metaphorically, since I’m no longer that age, unfortunately). I don’t even go out to socialize, though I do have some friends in the art scene.
“Culture folk” are boring and predictable, like any profession with public outreach (you should see the journalists or the bankers, they’re terrible!). Plays like those of Gianina Cărbunariu or Bogdan Georgescu have always given me the feeling of community, of a gang to whom I could also pitch something, a text, a critique, a fair fight of ideas with the gloves off. I’d go out to see the full bourgeois theatre, to check out what the middle-class is deluding itself with nowadays, but I think that even the sad bourgeois slogan “épater le bourgeois” has faded. Everything that’s publicly funded acts as if it were private. It just adds a bombastic touch of “values” and “what really matters.” Who the hell wants such a snooze fest? There are more intricate issues raised by the bourgeoisie in the films of the New Romanian Cinema.
There is one big trap here. Independent spirits who genuinely risked it all, careers, social status, you name it, risk in turn to remain labeled as “forever underground”, some sort of sad hippies who have their 50-year reunion since their anti-Vietnam war struggle. I get the same feeling about our little ideological skirmishes here at CriticAtac (http://www.criticatac.ro/18188/who-we-are/) or in other spaces critical with a world that’s reactionary to the core. There are several generations that have been practically lynched by the conformists. All the publicly-funded “fighters” have managed to fatally label the ones who actually feel like doing something more: they are “that bunch of independents the public doesn’t really like.” Period.
So why would I go to the theatre? To see more of the bourgeoisie getting worried. To feel myself get worried – as a bourgeois employee – because I’m still employed. I’d like to see more of the eternal theatre managers in Bucharest get shaken up. I’d like to see the theatre people I support engaging in power struggles, finding the strength to wrestle some of the means of production away from the idiots who have been monopolizing the connection with the greater audience for too long. Utopias, obviously, but it’s a utopia you asked me to write about in the first place. It would be a defeat to remain labeled “forever young. ” I find the ideas of running away from power and of subversion with limited means to be somehow written into the gene code of my generation – a lot of work for peanuts and anti-establishment anger. The problem is that after a while, what was once beautiful could turn into a self-destructing time-bomb.
The only solution I see is a clear-cut ideologizing of the message. Acknowledge your political position and get rid of this contagion of “neutrality” that turns the mainstream on so much. I’d go to the theatre the same way I’d go to a conspirative gathering aimed at taking over the power. How could we consolidate messages that are worthy of being disseminated in multiple environments? Only by dramatizing ideological meetings where we take ourselves seriously. For now, “seriousness” remains close to “independence” and “freedom”, two concepts completely wrecked by neoliberalism. Yes, we are free; free to get walked all over whenever we get sick or fired from our jobs. It is in their very clear repositioning as social and political fighters that I see the opportunity for artists.
But the real utopia now is politics. Art is monstrously real, it’s our daily lives, we’re all artists, for fuck’s sake. Aren’t we all deluding ourselves with royalties from our “copyright”? Politics, on the other hand, seems reserved for “their” world. I’d leave the house to get involved politically and to see radical ideological attempts that make me forget about “the stage” in a non-escapist manner.