“Luceafărul” - 60 years of theatre for children and youth
Founded in 1949 as a Puppet Theatre the new children shows institution with stabile company opened its first season with Pushkin’s “Golden Fish”, directed by Iosif Ligeti, having a five actors cast. The real founder of the company was the professor and director Manole Al. Foca, professor of philosophy and diction at the Iaşi Conservatoire. He took care of the training of the first generation of actors (Lucreţia Cărăuşu, Ana Şubă, Elena Brehnescu, Emil Petcu, George Zaharia, Petre and Emilia Valter, Ion and Simona Agachi, Constantin and Nicolae Brehnescu, Eliza Florescu), some of which can presently be seen on the theatre stage (Constantin Brehnescu, converted to stage directing, Nicolae Brehnescu, Ion Agachi). The first performances were hosted in an old movie hall, into a small building on Ştefan cel Mare street, in the Catholic churches’ courtyard. During these first years, the repertory consisted mainly of Romanian folk stories, completed, starting with its future decades of activity, with important titles of the universal literature: ”Tartarin of Tarascon” by Alphonse Daudet, “The Forced Mariagge” by Molière, “The Turandot Princess” by Carlo Gozzi etc.
In 1973, the name of the institution turns into Theatre for Children and Youth, the theatre enlarging its repertory area and the scale of artistic devices, combining puppetry with music, poetry, pantomime and dance, addressing several categories of ages. One also tests performances in non-conventional areas, well received by the audience. A new generation of actors is formed: Eliza Florescu, Ortansa Stănescu, Constantin Ciofu, Camelia Poenaru, Constantin Amuntencei, Nina Dimitriu, Mircea Sava, Doina Iarcuczewicz, Liviu Smîntînică, to which a younger one is added - Dorina Crişan-Rusu, Liliana Mavriş, Viorel Vîrlan, Toma Hogea, Gigi Şfaiţer. They worked with the stage directors Natalia Dănăilă, also the manager of the theatre, and Constantin Brehnescu, the scenographer Axenti Marfa, as well as with a long series of famous collaborators of all over the country: the writers Nina Cassian, Valentin Silvestru, Silvia Kerim, the scene directors Cătălina Buzoianu, Anca Ovanez, Petre Bokor, Nicolae Scarlat, the scenographers Hristofenia Cazacu, Cik Damadian, George Doroşenco, Eustaţiu Gregorian, the composers Sabin Păutza, Vasile Spătărelu, Cristian Misievici, Anda Tăbăcaru etc. Invited to participate to national and international festivals (Bekescsaba-Hungary, Charlevilles-Mézières and Rodez-Onet-le-Château - France, Venice - Italy, Bremen and Esslingen - Germany, Asia - Pakistan, Jordan, India, Iran, and, in the last decade, USA - New York and Washington, Spoleto –Italy, Prague - Czeck Republic, Bursa – Turkye, Lille – France, Vinnita-Ukraine, Volgograd-Russia, Augsburg -Germany), awarded several prizes, the Iasi Theatre for Children and Youth developed its artistic strategies in tone with the trends of the moment.
In 1977, because of the damage suffered by the building due to an earthquake, the theatre headquarter came to be, for ten years, the Youth House for Culture. The same year, the project of a new building as own headquarters was started. After ten years, beginning with December 1987, the theater moved on in its own house and carry on its activity. The building is impressive, modern, unique in Romania and rare in Europe. It has two performance halls – the largest having 450 seats, with a big scene and the possibility to play in Elisabethan, Italian or arena style, the smallest with 150 seats, specially suited for performances with puppets but also studio shows, rehearsal spaces, large lobbies, production workshops. Its inauguration also marked the completion of the theatre name, its frontispiece bearing since than the inscription Theatre for Children and Youth “Luceafărul”. “Luceafărul” means ”morning star”, one of the brightest stars on the sky but also the name of one of the most important poems of the Romanian literature written by the national romantic poet Mihai Eminescu, closely connected to the Iaşi cultural life of the XIX-th century.
The new building offered the artists the chance to bring to stage life even much more creative performances, for a large range of audience: children from kindergarten to gymnasium, teenagers in high-school and students.
On the permanent theatre poster one can find classic authors of the universal literature (William Shakespeare, Eugene Ionesco, Carlo Gozzi, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, Pamela Travers, Frank L.Baum, Charles Perrault, the Grimm Brothers, Carlo Collodi, Jonathan Swift) and Romanian authors (Ion Creangă, Mihail Sadoveanu, Vasile Alecsandri, I.L. Caragiale), but also contemporary authors (George Călinescu, Ion Sava, Gellu Naum, Matei Vişniec, Ioan Groşan etc).
In present times, the “Luceafărul” staff is made up of 25 actors, 2 stage directors, one scenographer, one artistic councilor. A new generation of actors were hired in the "Luceafărul" troupe, each artist with his personal style, according in the same time with the theatres programs, combining puppetry, acting, music, dance, visual effects etc. Among them: Gabriela Andrei, Ionela Arvinte, Adrian Buliga, Cătălin Cucu, Aurelian Diaconu, Ionuţ Gînju, Cristian Gheorghiu, Iulia Deloiu-Trif, Emanuel Florentin, Gabriel Lazăr, Mariana Ivanov, Raluca Pintilie, Paul Sobolevschi, Beatrice Volbea, Beatrice Engel, Ileana Ocneanu. Ion Ciubotaru is now the permanent scene director of the company, together with the senior Constantin Brehnescu, and Viorica Perju, the stage designer. For the good of the theatre, each season a couple of collaborators work with the actors, so they can keep in touch with different styles of making theatre.
"Luceafărul" is partial financed by the County Council, having also its own revenues. The troupe prepares about five new performances each season, shows that score over 50.000 spectators in attendance. Lately, one has reached an increasing artistic interest towards larger categories of public, new aesthetic challenges, new kind of artistic expression. The "Luceafărul" Theatre is now a cultural center of the city, an active institution that brings together writers, actors, intellectuals, painters, composers of the metropolis. An International Theatre Festival for Children and Youth takes place every early October, reaching in 2011 it’s fourth edition, bringing within it’s schedule until now companies from all over the world: Canada, USA, Brasil, Chile, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Romania.
This international reunion is a great opportunity for the artists to present their creations, to establish new bridges through culture and art, to show that Iaşi and "Luceafărul" are interesting spots for the national and European theatre. In recent years, the "Luceafărul" performances were selected to represent Romania in different international cultural events, such as "Lille 3000 Europe XXL" Festival, World Festival of Puppet Art Prague, International Festival of Puppet Theatre, Shadow and Karagoz in Bursa Turkey, Eukitea BlackSea Festival in Germany etc. These participations, the very good impressions the audience and specialists have formed, the prizes are proof that the artistic road of the Iaşi "Luceafărul" is inspired.