I remember too little from the performance I must have seen more than 40 years ago with Buchner‘s ‘Woyczeck’ at the Bulandra Theater in Bucharest, by the time when Liviu Ciulei and Lucian Pintilie dominated the Romanian theater in a short period of artistic Renaissance in the middle of the dictatorship, yet a great time for the Romanian theater and culture in general. I do not remember who the director was, and who where the actors, if somebody around still knows I would be grateful to be reminded. The main memory I have was of a first meeting with a text that was asking many questions about the relationship between the individual and the society, about what is sanity and what causes insanity.

source http://cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=9

 

There is one great advantage to deal with a text like GeorgWoy Buchner wrote and which remained unfinished. As a viewer and also as a director you can imagine and fill in the missing from your imagination, you can develop the characters in directions that the author did not have the time and maybe even the intention to do it. The story of the humble wig-maker and soldier Franz Woyzeck who in order to subsist and help the widow Marie he lives with enrolls not only in the army but also in a medical program that endangers his sanity, a story that cannot end but in tragedy has received at least two principal lines of explanation – the social conditions that push the poor to despair and beyond the borders of morality and the existentialist one, where there is no chance to an individual to face destiny and the social system and the military play in this interpretation the role of tools of destiny.

 

source http://cameri.co.il/index.php?page_id=2039

 

I was extremely eager to watch the scene rendition on the stage of the Tel Aviv Cameri theater. The vision of the director here packed the whole performance in the atmosphere of a mental institution, with the play acted by patients in the institution. This interpretation is questioning the definitions of sanity and insanity and provides them with a relativity load from start. Moreover, the play is prefaced by another quote from a different work of Buchner which talks about the lack of options of the oppressed and the recourse to violence when no other options are left. Here and now this message sounds political, although there was little in the performance itself that emphasized it.

 

(video source itayti2011)

 

Itay Tiran who plays Woyczeck is no doubt the leader of the younger generation of Israeli actors. He already played on stage Hamlet and Amadeus and had important roles in Beaufort and Lebanon, two of the successful films of the last years. He is different in each role, and has a personality as an actor that crosses the stage as soon as you see him. He is again fabulous in this performance here, and is very well matched by Ruthie Asarsay who creates a tragic Marie full of pathos and vibration. The problem of the performance is the director, and the director is also Itay Tiran. I do not know if this is his first try in stage direction, it is the first I am aware. As director Tiran mobilizes his actors and all of them give everything they have on stage. It’s a shame that this energy and devotion does not translate into a great stage performance, and the problem is I believe the lack of experience of Tiran in building the story, explaining the context to viewers that may not be familiar with the text, providing fluency and linking the disparate episodes. A few years ago a much smaller theater (in means at least) – Karov staged in the South of the city Romanian writer Matei Vishniec‘s play ‘The History of Communism Told for the Mentally Ill’ which used exactly the same theatrical convention. Looking back, despite the big names and the huge differences in budgets between the two theaters I believe that the performance at Theater Karov was from many respects as good or even better than this one.