The 60s was the decade of hope in the history of Communist Romania. After the frozen 50s which had seen the pick of the repression but also the death of Stalin, the grip of the Communist rule seemed to slowly soften on Eastern Europe. Since the first years of the decade the Romanian leader Gheorghiu-Dej had set the country on what seemed to be an independent path from the Soviet Union, and when he died in 1965 the younger successor seemed for the first few years to continue on the same path. Culture seemed to renew the continuity with the tradition broken by censorship and the strict ideological rules of socialist-realism. Theater was one of the arts flourishing in this decade, especially in Bucharest, although extremely interesting theater was also made in Ploiesti, Piatra Neamt, Targu Mures. In cinema, for the first time a Romanian director received an important prize in Cannes. The name of the director was Liviu Ciulei, and he also was the manager of the ‘Municipal’ or ‘Bulandra’ theater, the best in Bucharest.




For one decade the Bulandra Theater was the symbol of inventiveness in continuity, of courage and emotion on stage. Ciulei himself directed memorable performances that I remember until today – ‘The 12th Night’, ‘The Tempest’, ‘Leonce and Lena’, ‘Danton’. Each of his stagings were an event, he seemed to read every text in a different way anybody else had read it before, to discover secret meanings, to create a world of magic and beauty on screens. Actors became under his direction wizards and exceeded what they had ever believed themselves to be able to do on stage. He also brought aboard some of the best younger directors and mentored among other Lucian Pintilie, the other great name of the Romanian theater. The saga of the Bulandra theater is told in this article from Observatorul Cultural –*articleID_26083-articles_details.html


(video source magiclamp122)


After all promises of the 60s were broken and Romania turned back to progress and liberalization at the begining of the 70s, Ciulei was sacked from the direction of the theater and as many other creators he took the road of exile working for almost two decades exclusively in the West.  The New York Times dedicated to the Romanian director an obituary which pays respect to the man of theater and film and also provides more information about Ciulei’s career after he left Romania - It ends with the following:

“The most beautiful scene I have ever directed in my career is the last scene of ‘Padurea Spanzuratilor,’ ” he said. “We see a young peasant woman preparing the last meal for the man she loves who is sentenced to death by hanging — a man, a woman, bread, salt and wine, love, life and death.”

Unfortunately I could not find this scene on youTube. Yet I keep it in memory as many other of his creations, especially in theater. The unique magic of the true theater moments on stage continue to live in the heart of the viewers who shared them.