Ela and Lari in H & B Bucharest 

The Romanian production of Hippies and Bolsheviks  “Hipioti si Bolsevici”  is doing well. Raves all over the place. Here’s one.

The show is going so well and it makes me want to be there again and soak more of it in. It’s one of the things about theatre creation, the successes can be so fleeting, and so when they happen you really want to enjoy them as much you can.  I feel like I have the most beautiful perfect lover in Bucharest, but that’s as far as it goes. I can’t go visit, I can’t do anything about it. They’re just there and I have to be content with the knowledge that they’re there, but nothing beyond that, just memories.

The superlative response in Bucharest has got me thinking about distance. The worst received production was at home in Vancouver. But was it the “worst” production? I don’t think so, not in the least.

I had people who had lived through the time tell me where I had gone wrong. Where I was totally wrong.  For example the references to Led Zeppelin off the top of the show. And yet, all that is absolutely true. It seems that their awareness that I was only a baby during that time and didn’t actually live it, meant that I must have gotten some of it wrong. When in actual fact that stuff is very true, and just because I didn’t live it, doesn’t mean I can’t write it.

A similar thing would happen when we would tour SKAM shows. The nearer we were to home in Victoria, the worse the reviews were. Another way to look at it: Reviews in Toronto were almost universally stellar.

So what is this about?

In the case of the Bucharest production they are responding to the universal themes of the show – and obviously Felix’s translation must be very good – and because they are so removed from the actual realities of the show, so the audience and critics aren’t getting caught up in what is “true” or not.  There’s less concern about historical accuracy  and more concern with emotional accuracy. The Romanian audience doesn’t have a control group of their own memories to compare their experience with. They just get caught up in the story. The Vancouver audience who was alive in 1972 has their own experience to compare with and if it doesn’t jive with their own experience – real or not – they call foul.

There’s something else at play here too. The idea that if it’s from Away, far away, that perhaps it has more merit. This is what plays into SKAM’s better reviews in Toronto, New York and Philadelphia – for the same piece – than at home.

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writer / director

3 thoughts on “Distance.”

  1. Same in Vernon. Local artists should do everything for free and support it occasionally but a touring show!! Wow!
    It is best to do the show elsewhere first then bring it home touting that it is from Toronto.

  2. hi amiel. don’t sweat about the vancouver audience, and the reality of their experience. i’m writing from bucharest and i can tell you that the bolshevik experience was not at all what vancouver people thought and wanted to believe at the time and now.
    so here’s my thoughts about what I like so much your play:
    star and allan may have encountered on any liberated beach in romania;
    star and jeff may come back home from any good rock show;
    jeff may deserted from “patriotic” hard labour mandatory in the communist time;
    allan may have been changed to blue collar not by his father but by the politic police.
    i liked your play because is universal, and i could connect to it from the other side of the world.
    i get globalised also artistic, not only financial or geo-politically.
    congratulations to you, to felix, and to the team here.

    PS:if you’re missing your lover, please ask felix to get you some cyber-sex and broadcast the play specially for you. get the best of the globalization and use the webcam! =))

  3. Hey Amiel,

    I’m writing from Bucharest and I just recently saw the play and want my HS Theater teacher to watch it too, but the problem is that she can’t understand Romanian (I go to the American International School here, so she’s a foreigner) and I’ve been searching for your play online, but can’t seem to find it anywhere. Is it out there for the general public to read or can we only read it if we’ve purchased your book? (I can’t find it in Romania and since I’m Romanian, I can’t order it online.)
    Anyhow, I just want to say I adored the play, and you’ve got some amazing actors here that just love performing it. Great job.
    Oh, and don’t mind the Vancouver audience and reviews, they’re just being anal about the whole “getting it exactly right” factor. Besides, being recognized halfway around the globe is a pretty damn good accomplishment that not many playwrights have been able to achieve. 😀


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