Iulia Popovici (RO) - Mistrusting One Another: How Documentary Theatre Reads the Community

„Aw, this show is so touching“ – writes a Facebook user about Sebastian’s Great Love, a reading/ performance based on the diary of an inter-war Romanian-Jewish novelist and playwright. In another internet debate, a documentary theatre performance dealing with the ecologically and politically hot topic of a gold mining project using cyanides is „dismissed“ as socially irrelevant on the basis of performing arts being „emotion-driven“.

Somehow, in the last two decades and especially after 2000, when café-theatres and many other forms of private entertainment theatre started to become extremely visible in Bucharest and other big Romanian cities, the public perception of performing arts has shifted from „politically compensatory“ to „emotionally rewarding“ – with a strong emphasis on positive emotions – love, joy, surprise (joy being probably the jolly joker here). But what happens when theatre refuses to comply with this range of expectations and ‘puts on stage’ not individually but socially relevant emotions, trying to put a finger on the most relevant. If envy seems to be considered as the dominant social emotion within the Russian Federation, which one has precedence in Romania, as seen through the lenses of documentary theatre?