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   29 May 2014

   Georges Banu

Aureliu Manea, a falling star

This is what he was for us. He represents “une étoile filante” on the sky of the Romanian theatre. Few people can say “I’ve seen stars falling”, but we, his friends and colleagues, have had this privilege.

He was the incarnation of a maximum incandescence point. Science has created concepts whose meaning we, those outside of it, can’t understand. But at least now, they can be useful as metaphors. He seems to me the equivalent of what in astronomy is called “un trou noir”, a cosmic tear, a rupture which stops continuity, stunning vertigo.

“Etoile filante” / “trou noir” – these metaphors suggest the idea of emergence and dissolution, equally intense, equally thrilling. Manea is part of that sacred order often mentioned in pre-Columbian culture, the family of the “gods which fall”, “les dieux déclinants”, militant gods, gods defined by the energy of battle and reunited by decline. It is the family of the great victorious defeated. From the beginning, Manea’s theatre was placed under the sign of the night. He was a nocturnal organic, natural, he didn’t get to the night, the night got to him. Like Cioran who said “the night runs through my veins”. I understood this when I saw his unforgettable Macbeth sketch, which he presented as his director exam in the third year. Then, he was among the first ones who dared to physically represent the visions of the night and the fears of guilt as in his famous Rosmersholm in Sibiu. Manea was a poet in that that, getting inspiration from a text, he produced autonomous theatre moments, strange and free, thanks to theatre, the scene’s means and the presence of bodies. Manea found himself in words which only echoed in him, in images he alone could glance at, in lights and colours which constituted his submissive allies. The play was a trigger for his imaginary and, in the most profound way, starting from the play, Manea suggested a mental landscape where he invited us to go and wander. Manea lived truly only in the dark rehearsal room where his awes materialized; his confusions got disrupted, where his disorder reigned. Then, he was the monarch of the night. And thus, like any king, he spoke and made theatre only at the 1st person. It was not a theatre of detour and retreat, of lecture and analysis, but a theatre of self-affirmation, of subjectivity which can be taken on with the same rights as picture or literature. Manea served nobody. He didn’t get any help. He was an author who wrote his texts directly on stage. He was only his own prisoner and, up to a point, his own master. Then, his fragile balance broke and the Romanian stage was orphaned. Manea moved away from it, not coming back. His death only confirms his absence, which remained present for us, from Andrei Șerban to Gabor Tompa or Mihai Măniuțiu, from Marina Constantinescu or Gică Preda. A dead star which, like in Eminescu’s poetry, continues to shine. Until it turns into a “meteor” which falls on Earth and violently marks if faith! Manea revealed himself on the Sibiu theatre stage and his then debut I still remember today. An indelible seal!

Evoking the memorable deflagration in the 70s, and not as a sign of institutional homage, Constantin Chiriac invited Andriy Zholdak, an artist akin to Manea, to stage Rosmersholm next year. Dialogue in time, dialogue with a spirit accompanying us and with a director which, some of us, do not forget. Until then, let us remember this “falling star” who was Aureliu Manea, an artist born in Sibiu.

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