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   01 june 2019

   Cristina Ghinea

Festival Review

Under the slogan “The Art of Giving”, the 26th edition of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival has brought to Sibiu 3,300 artists and guests from 73 countries, who presented no less than 575 events in 75 venues. The number of spectators has broken past records, reaching 72,000 participants per day, while the last day of the Festival saw 123,000 spectators. This year’s edition took place under the High Patronage of the President of Romania.

Theatre, dance, contemporary circus or opera performances, from countries like Japan, China, USA, Canada, Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Spain, or Germany - these were all included in the FITS 2019 programme, contributing to the event’s diversity and multiculturalism. The 2019 Romania-France Season brought an important French presence to the limelight: 17 renowned theatre companies and over 70 francophone key moments dedicated to performing arts were presented during this year’s edition of FITS.

Some of this edition’s most anticipated events came from Maly Drama Theatre-Theatre of Europe, St-Petersburg, Russia; Dramaten - The Royal Dramatic Theatre Of Sweden, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris, Contemporary Legend Theatre, Thalia Theater, Fly Theatre, Matsumoto Performing Arts Centre, Yamamoto Noh Theater, Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione-Pippo Delbono Company, Ballet Flamenco Jesús Carmona, Vertigo, and Batsheva Dance Company.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (choreographer, dancer), Pippo Delbono (actor, director), Stan Lai (playwright, director), Maia Morgenstern (film and theatre actress), Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota (actor, director), Michael Thalheimer (director) are the six artists who entered the Walk of Fame this year. The “Virgil Flonda” Award was granted to Florin Piersic Jr., while the “Iulian Vișa” Award to Andrei and Andreea Grosu. Two other special awards were handed to professor Noel Witts and to H.E. Ambassador Emil Hurezeanu, while BRD Groupe Société Générale received the award for an exceptional partnership and cooperation.

“We bow to the citizens of this city, who have assumed ownership of one of the biggest festivals in the world, have proved they are worthy of it and know to defend it and to proudly take it further. This is the highest achievement of the FITS organizers in these 26 years, i.e. to create a wonderful audience that knows how to receive. The fact that venues were packed and that the weather allowed for all outdoor shows to be performed as per the programme is a sign of normality in a small town, which nevertheless manages to gather 123,000 spectators in one day only. This is an absolute record we’ve set. I would like to thank all those who have supported this Festival, as well as those who haven’t, but didn’t throw spanners into our works. I would like to thank all local, national, and international partners. It's so important to always stand on the same footing. If you wish, this is proof that when there’s vision, will, and strength there’s miracle”, Constantin Chiriac, President of FITS.

The technical production remains the most complex aspect of the Festival and implies a huge operation of forces, considering the dynamic of staging guest productions and the weather conditions. In all, for the 26th edition of FITS, we used 1,600 m3 of Helium, 26 tons of counterweights, 350 metal fences, 14 video projectors, 124 microphones and lapel mikes, or 260 lights used daily for street performances, while for indoor shows, we lit more than 1,000 lights and smart lights every day. More than that, eight-layer structures were built for the productions presented in the Big Square and the Small Square as well as two special stages for some of the most sought-after plays of this edition, “Lev Dodin’s Hamlet” and “Peer Gynt”.

Further on, besides the shows scheduled to be played by TNRS this summer, the audience is also invited to Micro-Folie Sibiu – Hotspot Cultural BRD Groupe Société Générale, a digital museum granting people access to the works of 12 famous museums in France, to a virtual reality space where one can watch films made by ARTE through VR headsets, and to FabLab, a space dedicated to creativity. Experience facilitated by Samsung and dARe by Samsung. The exhibition can be seen at Casa Artelor (Piața Mică, nr 21).
Another important event in FITS is the Chinese exhibition entitled Lantern Festival – China in 20 legends, inspired from Chinese culture; the beautiful lanterns will light up the ASTRA Museum in Dumbrava Sibiului from Wednesday to Sunday until 4 August, between 8 p.m. and 12 p.m.

About 49 weeks from now, the 27th edition of FITS will start, in 12-21 June 2020.

      © Paul Băilă