Interview with Dimitar Uzunov - Paris
Dimitar Uzunov is the director and head of a theater troupe called "Family Mundy" or translated by "Family Mundy". Having succeeded in creating and managing the troupe by involving people from almost every corner of the planet, Dimitar will tell us more about himself, the troupe, his love for the theater and the Bulgarian touch in the heart of Paris.
Who is Dimitar Uzunov? Tell us about yourself, your creative projects and your love for theater?
I was born 36 years ago in Vratsa, rather by coincidence, since both my parents are branches in Sofia. As a kid, I used to love to read and some of my favorite books were the adventure books and the ones I met with other cultures and brought me to distant places. One of the most exciting events of my life was my first trip abroad in the winter of the 90s or 91s. Loaded with the trumpet of a colleague of my father, we made an excursion - an adventure in the part of Serbia (then Yugoslavia) close to Bulgaria. For reasons I do not remember well, we were not allowed to cross the border for the first time and we are sad to return to Sofia. The next morning, however, everything went well. So, for the first time, I felt the indescribable feeling of diving into a different, though not so distant, Bulgarian culture. As if I was born again.
Around this time, I became a student at the National High School of Mathematics in Sofia. My father put enormous pressure on me to study mathematics, which, although I didn't particularly like it, for some inexplicable reason, I did. We made some compromise, enrolled at NPMG, but majoring in Earth Sciences, as I hoped this profile would connect me to alien countries, cultures and people I wish. My stay there was rather disappointing. I found very little of what I was looking for. Emphasis was placed on physical geography and various areas of geology. I studied just as much as I did the next year. As far as I can remember, I was the only one who excelled in socio-economic geography at Dimo Kirilov (a long-time participant and several times a winner in the TV show "Minutes is Many") and in history. If I'm not lying, I've ended up with the least success in the entire class. A little inertia and to avoid the barracks I enrolled to study Geology at Sofia University. For the first few years, I continued to ride it on the familiar system, studying just as much as I could in the next year.
Somewhere around that time I discovered the theater or rather rediscovered it. My father spent most of his active life in the National Palace of Culture, and from a small age I had access, often free of charge, to major cultural events. I quickly changed some amateur youth troupes to get to the troupe at the Student House in Sofia. I remember reciting Pushkin in Russian for his performance there, in the Russian part of "Eugene Onegin", which describes the poet's death. Ironically, Pushkin describes his own death prophetically, a similar fate would come years later. By the circumstances of this troupe, a performance was under way, under the direction of the great director Nikola Petkov.
Nikola Petkov was the one who finally lit me on the theater and from whom I learned the basics of acting and directing. I have discovered the opportunities that theater gives for personal development, improvement and realization of creative energy. Theater is probably the most versatile medium for creative expression, as it can include all other arts, music, cinema, photography, writing, architecture, light, colors, forms. At that moment I was reborn. Suddenly, a long, wide and exciting road opened up for me. Shortly afterwards, I told my father that I intended to abandon geology and devote myself to theater. I remember his reaction as if yesterday was 'What ?!' he said in bewilderment, choking in surprise. We made a sort of agreement again, to finish geology completely (ie Master) and then do whatever I want. I was so enthusiastic and full of energy that I suddenly became an excellent student at university and for the last three years at SU I have been awarded scholarships for excellence.
At the same time, for two years of intensive courses, I learned French at a very good level, I remember even winning the first prize of a competition organized by the French Cultural Institute. In the winter of 2002, we played at the Besançon Festival, France, and we made our way through Paris. I fell in love with its beautiful architecture, history-laden streets and diverse people from all over the world. The decision was made to learn French and, after completing geology, as my father insisted, to return here to devote myself to theater. That intention came to fruition two and a half years later.
What is the history of the Mundy Family?
In Paris, I was accepted to study performing arts, optional theater, at the University of Paris 8. It is perhaps the most progressive public university in France, created after the events of 1968. It taught some of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century - Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Alan Badiou, Ellen Sixx, who inevitably influenced and of the other humanitarian departments of the University. A huge number of its students are foreigners. Here I met and worked as part of our student work with people from all over the world. The Family Mundy, the troupe we created a few years later, is a natural extension of this work. In fact, the name "Family Mundy" is very eloquent about our creative and human intentions. "Family" in French means "family" and "Mundy" comes from the Latin world.
In 2007 - 2008, I studied at a French-American exchange program at Brooklyn College in New York, and there as an actor I participated in a similar project called "Tiatro Global", which further motivated me to pursue such a program. type of work. Back in Paris, we founded the Family Mundy, most of which were university colleagues. For five years of existence, we have accomplished three major projects that I have had the pleasure of directing. Actors and creators from around 20 countries have participated in these projects. It was a great exciting adventure. To date, we are looking for a change in the model by which we produce our performances.
Despite the many positive reviews and mutual love with our audience, Family Mundy is an independent company in every respect, without any lasting financial and material base. The room we had available for rehearsals was converted by the owner-owner into rental apartments. To be honest, many of the people involved in our projects, dissatisfied with the living and working conditions in Paris, returned to their home countries, others moved to other cities and companies (for example, three of our cast members went to they work in Frankfurt at the Antagon Company), while others have completely changed their profession. We are currently developing several international projects with the aim of exporting our work from Paris.
What made you create an international troupe and how do you work with people from other nationalities and cultures? How did you find them and how did they connect with each other?
To me, theater doesn't make sense unless it reflects in some way the world around us and our personal view of the world. In this respect theater is inevitably a political act. Political is the ancient Greek theater, political is Shakespeare, political is Moliere. Creating an international troupe, working with it and selecting texts is not an end in itself. Through my work as a director, I strive to express my attitude to the times we live in. I strive to convey my ideas for a more humane world, develop critical thinking in the audience and reach out to those who think that the problems facing humanity today, more than ever, are global and require global agreement and action. It annoys me how easy it is to manipulate and pity people against one another for some useful purpose, using differences in language, religion, skin color or culture. Analyzing, the only counteraction to this state of affairs that I as a creator and a person have is to make the people around me more critical of the lava than the information that floods us today.
Through my productions, I strive to show and arouse interest in other cultures, religions, languages. A big factor in the successful manipulation of people is fear and demagogues politicians know this very well. And most often scary is what we don't know. Working with people of other nationalities and cultures is a pleasure. Sometimes a little more knowledge about the culture of these people is required in order to deal with the inevitable misunderstandings that arise from cultural differences. The people who participated in the Family Mundi projects were selected either through personal acquaintances or through auditions. As they, I think without exception, have lived or are living in Paris, it has not been particularly difficult to integrate them into a multicultural international environment. Paris is a unique city where people from all over the world meet, and in fact it attracted me in time.
What was the most interesting thing about working with these so different people?
Each person brings his own story, that of his parents, but also that of his country, his ethnic and religious group, of people who speak the same language. In this regard, working with each of these people was an exciting meeting in which I discovered the unknown. I have discovered cities and countries I have never been to, I have spoken foreign languages, I have met people I have never seen.
The troupe includes people from Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, South Korea, Spain, United States, France, Georgia, Japan, Kosovo, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tunisia, Turkey. How do you get along? Tell us about one of the funniest moments the language barrier could have created?
I don't think we have any particular problems with our understanding. As in every family, there were problems, there were times when we loved each other, and there were times where we wondered what we were doing there, but I think the people who worked on our projects have preserved a wonderful memory of our teamwork. The funniest thing that comes to my mind is not the understanding between us, but the name of our corpse. During the audition, the person providing access to the auditorium asked us, looking at the list of participants in the audition:
- Who are you?
- The Family Mundy (translation - The Mundy Family).
- Huh, you have it on the list! He said, staring at the leaf, "So you're all relatives, right?"
We explained to him that we were not related, or at least not blood, and that it was simply the name of our corpse. He smiled and let us attend the audition. There are still mostly family circus troupes in France, and that's where I think the man's confusion came from. On this occasion, the jokes of the troupe began to tell me "Daddy Mundy". Remember, there was a baby show called Barbarons, led by Dad Barbaron. And we are one such crazy family.
Which productions did you start on the small stage and then the big stage?
My transition from actor to director has become somewhat seamless and imperceptible. Perhaps my first solo job as a director was "The Last Man," a few-minute performance that covered the topic of a despotic society that I presented at several student festivals. This was followed by several collective projects with fellow students that covered various social topics. My first work as a classical theater director was two twenty-minute performances that I worked on while studying at Brooklyn College. My dream thesis, a performance on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, is actually my first full-length performance as a director. This is also the first performance of the Family Mundy.
Improvisation is the highest form of theater. Do you like to improvise?
This is an interesting question. Improvisation is for the acting that is the moment of inspiration for the composer, for the artist, for the director, for the writer. This is the moment when we “ride the wave” when there is no obstacle to the creative impulse and its immediate application and expression. However, in order for an improvisation to be truly successful, it must have some boundaries, some limitations, be part of some structure. We can liken them to obstacles, obstacles that actually stimulate creativity. Without them, improvisation falls into clichés very quickly or becomes annoying. The actors in my performances are free to improvise as long as they abide by those invisible threads that provide the structure of the performance.
In my opinion, the Mundy Family is a precedent in communication between so many different nationalities in theater. Undoubtedly, I think that all participants have the unique gift of being involved with each other. In your opinion, is this love in theater?
I think it all comes mostly from the love of teamwork and the ability for personal satisfaction and creative expression in teamwork. To me, this is love in theater. I feel love for each participant in our projects, I hope so for others.
You love Shakespeare. You played two performances of it, and the premiere of the play "Dream" by the great playwright was probably one of the most memorable moments for you. How was it received from the audience and how by the critics?
In fact, "Dream" we played it 2009-2010. We haven't played it since then, although I wish we could play it for our pleasure some time. I think the audience received it very well, at least the reviews were like that. I cannot say about the criticism. There were one or two very positive articles, but I don't know how representative they are. Perhaps the biggest accolade for the show came at the 2010 Student Theater Festival in Nice, when we won the festival's grand prize. In honor of the unique spirit of our corpse, the award was named "Cosmopolitan" at the award ceremony. This performance was an unforgettable memory. We played at the National Theater in Nice, a huge, beautiful building. The audience sent us a huge ovation. To my delight, there were many Bulgarians in it.
Have you thought… / Do you have any personal plans for staging by a Bulgarian playwright?
Yes, I have such plans. I have been searching for interesting contemporary Bulgarian texts for several years now, I have chosen a few of them, but it is not yet ripe. From the authors whose work I know, from the more established ones, I like Hristo Boychev, Elin Rakhnev, Zahari Karabashliev, Dimitar Dinev, and from the more avant-garde, Svetozar Georgiev, Gergana Dimitrova and Zdrava Kamenova. I am currently preparing dramatic projects for authors.
What are your future plans?
I have several theater projects that I am developing at the moment: one related to the Philippines, one trans-European, one dedicated to Kostadinka Kuneva, a Bulgarian trade union activist who was flooded with acid in 2008 in Greece. I'm starting to take a more serious interest in cinema and consider producing and directing independent productions. I really liked the idea of another Bulgarian woman, Nadezhda Savova, who develops different social and therapeutic methods based on bread and its preparation. I'm trying to develop the idea here in Paris as well. Later this year, I plan to visit South Korea, China and some other Asian countries where I intend to develop projects.
Tell us about travel, blogs and experiences?
I like to travel, discover, try new things, new challenges. I think that's part of the creative work, at least mine. I decided throughout 2014 to take a break from Paris and life here and go on a trip. Some famous thinker has said that there are two types of education - academic and what you get when you are on the go. I needed to refresh my brain and my perceptions. I had a little money saved which really wasn't much. All in all, the price you would pay for a tour company for a XNUMX-day excursion for two to Thailand and Cambodia, and I set off on a trip to the countries I wanted to visit. For ten months, I visited fifteen countries in Southeast and South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. For a more detailed description of what happened, what I saw and what I experienced, I invite you to check out the blog I kept while traveling. Direction: sunrise (posokaizgreva.blogspot.com). You can see photos of the trip on the There Is Only One Earth Facebook page. It was really worth it. In one year I have seen and experienced so many interesting and beautiful things, I have met so many new and interesting people and cities, I have learned to do so many new things that it is still difficult for me to “grind” this colorful cocktail. I feel reborn again.