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   11 March 2014


Dialogue with Georges Banu

You have recently launched in France your most recent book, entitled “Parisul personal. O autobiografie urbană” (Personal Paris. An urban autobiography) published by Publishing House Nemira. Given your connection to Sibiu which you have always considered a very special one, what coordinates (time, space but also emotional coordinates) would you include in an (urban) autobiography of Sibiu? 

In time, as I kept returning to Sibiu, the city obviously became a “a personal city” which allows me to “relive” events and “rediscover” persons connected to the meetings that take place here every year, at the beginning of the summer. A “personal city” can occur only through integration in such a city, in its secrets, in its days and nights. Therefore a subjective and dream-like map is shaped. A “personal city” is the dream I cannot forget.

The inhabitants of Sibiu are the first beneficiaries of the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, having the opportunity to see the greatest number of performances. As a person who cultivates the act of watching a performance (theatre, dance, etc.), having numerous experiences, how did this work modify your perspective of life, in general?

Being in the audience, everybody devaluates us, thinking that we are nothing but passive presences. In time, however, we discovered that if somebody needs the stage, if somebody wants to remain connected to the stage, I am just as necessary to the stage, because the audience is the shadow of the stage, such as the famous story of Peter Schlemihl reminds us, talking about a man which lost his shadow. Theatre allows us this reciprocity due to the coexistence between the actor and the audience, even though, obviously, their presence is distinct, different, characteristic.

Sibiu comes alive and lives in a different rhythm during the International Theatre Festival in Sibiu, similar to all communities which host very large festivals. Do you consider that this kind of transformation, temporary as it may be, for a period of 10 days, significantly modifies the structure of that community in an essential matter?

Without a doubt. A cyclic, repeated event modifies the identity of the city because it cultivates an expectation, one that fuels and emotional relationship with the existence of the festival, at a date priorly know. It is similar to a love rendezvous …To many, the city life reaches a maximum „orgasmic” intensity during the festival, being an emotional and passional fulfillment. Without the festival, Avignon or Edinburgh, are just a couple of sad towns... with their inner beauty. The festival exalts them.

We know that the need and pleasure of people to hear stories comes from the times when the first hunters would gather in the evening around the fire to hear stories, sharing more or less extraordinary happenings which they had heard of or been part of. Theatre springs from this experience as well but can it still offer the same satisfaction?

If it is open and humane, theatre offers us the pleasure to find ourselves again as humans on both sides of the frontier, as people who are present there, alive and fragile.

      © Maria Ștefănescu



George Banu (born 22 June 1943, Buzău, Romania), critic and theatre personality born in Romania and settled in Paris in 1973. He studied at the Academy of Drama and Film, Bucharest, generation colleague with stage manager Andrei Şerban. Professor I.E.T. (Institut d'Etudes théâtrales) at the University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and Theatre Studies Faculty of the University of Louvain la Neuve in Belgium. In 1990, together with Michelle Kokosowski, they founded the Experimental Theatre Academy in Paris, which he runs until 2001, when the Academy activity stops. General Secretary (1985-1992), President (1994-2000), then Honorary President of the International Association of Theatre Critics. UNITER Member, Doctor Honoris Causa of the IL Caragiale National University of Theatre and Film, Bucharest, 2006, Doctor Honoris Causa at several European Universities. He received three times the award for Best Theatre Book in France, Honorary Award IATC - Romanian section in the Gala UNITER 2012, Shakespeare Festival Special Prize 2012 offered by Rotary Craiova and Rotary Probitas Craiova, honorary member of the Romanian Academy 2013. He is co-director of the Brussels Alternatives théâtrales magazine and director of the collection "Le temps du Théâtre" published by Actes Sud in France. Author of numerous works devoted to the contemporary scene and the relationship between theatre and painting.