The Romanian National Theatre Festival is a feast of performing arts, but also an opportunity to bring together some of the most experienced and inspiring people in the arts and culture world. Such a guest at this year’s NTF is John Clinton Eisner.
He is is no stranger to the Romanian theatre stage, having been involved with projects at the Tg. Mureș theatre university since a decade ago. He first came here in 2005 with the Romanian playwright Saviana Stănescu, who had started to work with The Lark, the New York based theatre laboratory cofounded by Clinton Eisner which focuses on the vision and narrative of playwrights. Clinton Eisner serves as its Artistic Director and vision creator. He is involved in direct work with playwrights and arts leaders from all over the world, has taught creative process and playwriting at various universities, and is an active promoter of contemporary playwriting.
What does it mean to be a theatre focused on the playwrights’ vision, as The Lark? Who cares about their vision nowadays, when it seems that the actor’s performance and the director’s skills are paramount in theatre?
Actually, I don’t see The Lark as a theatre, but rather a leadership institute. Theatre is one of the most profound contexts for people to connect in a personal way. Stories get told in a live context, you cannot hide behind a screen here. Theatre isn’t a very high-stake thing, it’s not like politics, cinema or TV with all those high costs. Theatre is cheap, down, dirty, the stakes are kind of lower, so in this context people can be more honest. The most interesting and creative things happen in theatre because people show up as who they truly are. On the other hand, The Lark’s success is at least in part due to the fact that the playwrights we work with are thought leaders in the US. The Lark is, hence, a laboratory of ideas.
What role does contemporary playwriting have in shaping society?
It has huge social relevance. At The Lark we are a community where people from all kinds of backgrounds come together and tell their stories. In any community there needs to be a place where people can tell their particular stories and be heard. In the US, most of the current conflict comes from the fact that some people being afraid of other people who are different. Theatre happens only when we start to have real conversations with different kinds of people.”
More pictures from the interview with John Clinton Eisner here.