Romanian Theatre

9th September 2006

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During the communist period Romanian theatre was dominated by an ideologically selected repertory. Many directors tried nevertheless to use metaphors and symbols to express their views and surpass censorship.

The December 1989 events liberated the country and the Romanian theatre from ideological control and artists started to experiment a wide range of theatre methods and to express themselves in a more direct way.

The majority of Romanian theatres are still state subsidized repertory theatres, with permanent companies employed. There are now several new independent companies though, like: ACT Theatre, Luni Theatre from Green Hours, Inoportun Theatre, Toaca Cultural Foundation, Desant Theatre (DramAcum).


The most well known classical Romanian playwright is Ion Luca Caragiale (1852 – 1912). Plays: A Stormy Night, A Lost Letter, Carnival Scenes.

Playwrights between the two world wars: Camil Petrescu (1894-1957), Lucian Blaga (1895-1961), G.M. Zamfirescu (1898-1939), Mihail Sebastian (1907-1945), Victor Ion Popa (1895-1946), G. Ciprian (1883-1968), and Tudor Musatescu (1903-1970).

Eugène Ionesco, born Eugen Ionescu (1909 – 1994) – Plays: The Lesson, The Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros, Jack or the Submission, The Lesson.
Ionesco settled in France during WWII where he wrote and published his works in French. He was one of the foremost playwrights of the ‘Theatre of the absurd’.

Two amazing Romanian poets and playwrights continued the ‘Theatre of the absurd’ tradition:
Gellu Naum (1915 – 2001) – Plays: The Island, Taus Clockmakers, Maybe Eleonora
Marin Sorescu (1936 – 1997) – Plays: Jonah, The Verger, The Matrix

Matei Visniec (b. 1956) – Plays: Old Clown Wanted, The Body of a Woman as a Battlefield in the Bosnian War, The Story of the Panda Bears told by a Saxophonist who has a Girlfriend in Frankfurt, How To Explain The History Of Communism To Mental Patients
In 1987 Matei Visniec left Romania to settle in Paris. After the fall of communism, in 1989, he became one of the most performed playwrights in Romania, with more then 30 plays put on in Bucharest and other towns.

Successful Romanian Playwrights after 1989: Vlad Zografi, Alina Nelega-Cadariu, Saviana Stanescu, Horia Garbea, Andreea Valean, Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Radu Macrinici.

New playwriting is encouraged today in Romania through various programmes, DramAcum and Uniter running two of the most important ones.


Famous Romanian comic actors: Toma Caragiu (1925 – 1977), Amza Pellea (1931 – 1983), Dem Radulescu (1931 – 2000), Octavian Cotescu (1931 – 1985).
Prominent actors nowadays, some known internationally: Ion Caramitru, Marcel Iures, Maia Morgenstern, Victor Rebengiuc, Mariana Mihut, Oana Pellea, Valeria Seciu, Stefan Iordache, Ilie Gheorghe, Dorel Visan, Marin Moraru, Gheorghe Dinica, Radu Beligan, Florin Piersic, Dan Puric.


Because of the strict censorship many important directors left the country during the communist period in order to develop their careers abroad. Some returned after 1989 to direct some productions in Romania: Andrei Serban (USA), Lucian Pintilie (France), Petrica Ionescu (France), Liviu Ciulei (Germany), David Esrig (Germany), Alexandru Tocilescu (Germany), Lucian Giurchescu (Denmark), Vlad Mugur (Germany), Radu Penciulescu (Sweden).

One of the most appreciated Romanian directors is Silviu Purcarete (b. 1950), living in France at present time. He has worked in Romanian and European theatre for more than twenty years, most notably for the National Theatre of Craiova, Bulandra Theatre in Bucharest and Sibiu Theatre. Famous productions: Phaedra, Titus Andronicus, Ubu Rex, Les Danaides, The Tempest, Arabian Nights, Twelfth Night, Waiting for Godot.

Main voices in theatre direction in the country today: Catalina Buzoianu, Tompa Gabor, Mihai Maniutiu, Alexandru Dabija, Alexandru Darie, Victor Ioan Frunza, Dragos Galgotiu.

Theatre Festivals

SIBFEST - Sibiu International Theatre Festival (annual, May-June) managed by actor Constantin Chiriac. This is the most popular annual theatre and performing arts festival from Romania and one of the most important festivals of its kind from Europe. In 2007 Sibiu is nominated European Capital of Culture, together with Luxembourg;

Shakespeare Festival in Craiova (April-May; Craiova) managed by actor Emil Boroghina;
‘I.L.Caragiale’ National Theatre Festival (November; Bucharest) managed by UNITER.

UNITER – Union of Theatre People
Founded in 1990, UNITER stands for theatre cooperation and for the rights of theatre people in Romania. President: actor Ion Caramitru; .
UNITER organizes an annual Gala (April; Bucharest) which is nicknamed ‘the Romanian Oscars’.
Contacts: Strada George Enescu, 2 – 4, sector 1, Bucuresti, 010305, Romania. E-mail: .

Main theatres in the country in other languages than Romanian:
Hungarian (The Hungarian State Theatre in Cluj);
German (The German State Theatre in Timisoara);
Yiddish (the Jewish State Theatre in Bucharest). Modern Yiddish theater was created in Iasi, Romania during the 1877-78 by Abraham Goldfaden.

Useful web sites

Sibiu International Theatre Festival: ;
Sibiu European Capital of Culture 2007: ;
The Hungarian State Theatre in Cluj: ;
ACT Theatre: .