If you happen to be in Transylvania this weekend, you might check out Ghidul copilăriei retrocedate (Guide to a recovered childhood), which is having its world premiere at the National Theatre in Sibiu on May 31.
I just had lunch with Florentina Mocanu today at the Stanford Bookstore, and she is on her way to Romania in the next day or so for that very purpose. She has good reason to go: she’s one of the playrights, along with Gavriil Pinte (who is also directing) and Andrei Codrescu, known to most Americans as a commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered since 1983. Florentina is a graduate of Theatre Arts University in Târgu Mureş. At Stanford, she translated and directed Mr. Leonida by I.L. Caragiale and Ionesco’s Frenzy for Two or More. I met her earlier this year while writing about her mentor, director Carl Weber, a protegee of Bertolt Brecht and a veteran of his Berliner Ensemble — also a veteran of WWII, where he was a teenage German POW in England.
Ghidul copilăriei retrocedate was a far-flung collaboration: Florentina lives in San Francisco, Piute is writing from Bucharest, and Codrescu is based in New Orleans. The play is coming together for its debut in Codrescu’s beloved home town, Sibiu.
The play includes the poetry of Codrescu’s youth and explores the nature of memory as it shifts over the decades in a lifetime. Wonder how he squares that theme with a New Year NPR broadcast, in which he recalls an earlier job in his literary career, writing fortune cookies for $5 a shot. The last fortune he got said: “You will know the future in time.” Now that it is the future, he offers this insight: “Time will make truth irrelevant.”
“Time is truth and there is no truth in time,” he said.
In any case, Sibiu won’t be a bad place to cool your heels: It was designated European Capital of Culture for the year 2007, with Luxembourg. It is ranked as “Europe’s 8th most most idyllic place to live” by Forbes. And if you can’t make it, check out the youtube preview (above, in Romanian), featuring several actors in the production — and at least get a few glimpses of faraway Sibiu.