In detail

"The children didn't necessarily have fun at the theater"

"The children didn't necessarily have fun at the theater"

Interview by Iulia POPOVICI

Interview by Iulia POPOVICI
Until October 16, Bucharest is hosting the first edition (opened on October 10) of the first International Children's Theater Festival in Romania, entitled "100, 1,000, 1,000,000 stories". One of the partners of the "Ion Creanga" Theater in organizing this event is the "ung scene / öst" Theater in Linköping (Sweden), whose artistic director, Mans Lagerlöf, will be present in the Capital, directing one of the performances in Swedish texts reading from within the festival.
Lagerlöf studied the history of literature, theology and philosophy at the University of Stockholm, and then graduated from the Theater Direction of the Dramatic Institute in Stockholm.

His performances include "Headaches with E", "Lav", "Yes and no", "The most clever girl in the world" (all written by Stefan Lindberg), "Grass", by Esther Gerritsen, " norway.today "by Igor Bauersima," The day my brother came home "by Roel Adam," Habeas Corpus "by Alan Bennett," In the jungle of cities "by Bertolt Brecht," Towards Damascus "by August Strindberg," Woyzeck " by Georg Büchner, "Rupa Lucian - child from Romania" by Ad de Bont, "Sfoara" by Klas Abrahamsson. In 2004 he was awarded the Swedish Critics' Award for children's and youth theater.
The children's theater is extraordinarily well developed in Sweden, it even competes very seriously with the drama itself. How did a genre considered "minor" to have such importance?
It's hard to explain, but it has to do with what happened in Swedish society in the 1960s and 1970s. It was a change in the whole society, but one of the aspects concerned the need to change the way children look at the world. The educational principles of the previous decades, very coercive, were abandoned, in favor of an effort to understand directly the child and the adolescent. Society should try to transform young people into complete human beings, developing their imagination and letting them be children, not small versions of their parents. As far as the theater is concerned, it is primarily a person, the director Susann Aften, the one who actually brought the children's theater from the entertainment area to the art one. It is a theater (as was the case with children's literature) that brings to the stage a whole series of complicated topics related to childhood.
How do children and young people come to the theater? In us, they are usually brought with school, or they come, rarely, with parents, grandparents, etc.
It's pretty much the same in Sweden. At the theater where I am artistic director, we mainly produce shows for teenagers and young people, between 10 and 25 years old; Sure we don't do the same plays for 10-year-olds and 25-year-olds, but most often teenagers come to the theater with school. Most of them really want to come, but even those who would not want to be forced to do so. It is not necessarily bad, probably, otherwise, those who have no parents interested in art would never see theater. And if you don't know what that is, you can't even like it.
The idea from which we started is that teenagers did not have to have fun at the theater; they are interested in what is really happening in the world, on serious issues. From my direct experience, I would say that the more serious the subject of the piece, the more young people are involved, because they have the impression that they find out something important about the world, what it means to be an adult, what is waiting for them on the other side. childhood.
Do they continue to come to the theater after they grow up?
In Sweden, compared to other countries in Europe, we have many theaters. I think that if anyone had the opportunity to see theater, read literature, listen to music, etc., and it was a pleasant experience, he will continue to do so. If you didn't start to read a book when you were a kid, or that book was bad, you're unlikely to be a passionate reader.
The problem is that in Sweden it is somewhat expensive to go to the theater, and most of those who go are not 20-30 years old, they are over 45-50; it is a struggle that continues to attract the younger audience.
In Linköping, where I work, before we open the theater, there is only the state theater, where Chekhov, Strindberg, Ibsen were playing. For five years, since we exist, there have been young people of 20 and some years who have come to the theater (in our theater) five to six times; now, when I talk to them, I see that they had experiences that made them appreciate things they had never thought about before. He appreciates the theater as an art, and I hope he will continue to interest it later.
Was there a children's theater in the city that made you start "ung scene / öst"?
Somehow, yes, but it was of much greater importance to me. At that time, I was doing shows with Chekhov et al., On the big stage, with older spectators who came and said, "Wow, how beautiful!". For me, it is important to communicate directly with the public, to feel that what I do has an impact on him. I was 25 at the time and I felt that I had nothing to say to those people - we were from different generations, and I wanted my viewers to have something other than a comfortable evening at a nice theater. The ones I could talk to were 15-16 years old, they were neither children nor adults, but somewhere in between, when I was just starting to understand what it means to be an adult and looking for something to explain these new things. And theater is the ideal way people can come to understand themselves.
You have assembled, at one point, a play - "Ruba Lucian - child from Romania"; what was it about?
When I did it, I was still a student in directing, it is one of the first pieces I put together. It is a text written by a Dutchman, Ad de Bont, about Romania and the Revolution; In fact, it is the story of the Romanian society from the 1970s to the present. I was very impressed, and I wanted to do it; when we worked on it, I came to Romania and visited all the places mentioned in the song, I met many people. That is why I have a special relationship with Romania.
It's funny, but I haven't found anyone here who has heard of this song, and it's a pity, it's a very powerful text (although it's somehow one for people who don't know Romania).
But what do you say to the children for whom you do theater? Don't you fool them in your turn?
My belief is that children, as well as adults, have the right to a theater of good quality, artistic, aesthetic. Teachers always have an answer to children's questions, and, likewise, my childhood theater ends with a didactic moral ("you have to share your apples with others", etc.). It is now much more important to make others aware of their own critical thinking ability. At the same time, theater is the most living proof of man's ability to put himself in someone else's place, and it is fundamental that you, as a human being, understand how someone else can think. Otherwise, the company would collapse.
And no, I don't think they will be fooled. I do not tell the story of a wonderful world that will be; rather, I warn today's children to keep their eyes open, because there will always be someone who wants to suck them up.
Source: Day