WEEKEND DESTINATIONS: Cultural weekend in Bucharest and countrywide

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Theatre stages in Bucharest and in the main Romanian cities will be in the limelight on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9.

The show schedule opens in Bucharest on Saturday afternoon with 'Sebastian's Great Love', and continues with two more plays at the National Theatre and the Comedy Theatre, namely 'The Inspector General' and 'How I Learned to Drive'. The National Theatre of Cluj-Napoca (central Romania) stages Moliere's 'The Imaginary Invalid'.

Starting on 3 p.m., the cosy space of Godot Cafe in Bucharest's ?Old Town' will host actors Rodica Mandache, Marius Manole, Ana-Ioana Macaria and Istvan Teglas for a performance evoking the love story of writer Mihail Sebastian and great interwar actress Leny Caler. The 'Sebastian's Great Love' show is built on fragments of Caler's notes and of Sebastian's diary and 'Holiday Games' play; it stages private diary pages, imaginary dialogues between her — now old, and him — still young, with a musical background from those years.

Young stage director Eugen Gyemant's 'How I Learned to Drive' transforms the shocking story of two heroes into a moralizing comedy. The show featuring Serban Pavlu, Ioana Anastasia Anton, Delia Nartea, Smaranda Caragea and Alexandru Conovaru starts at 7 p.m. at the New Hall of the Comedy Theatre.

At the I.L. Caragiale National Theatre, Felix Alexa displays a modern staging concept for the well-known play 'The Inspector General' by Russian writer Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol. Protagonists are played by Marius Manole and Mihai Constantin.

The stage of the National Theatre of Cluj-Napoca hosts on Saturday, February 8, from 7 p.m. a representation of 'The Imaginary Invalid'. On the border between tragic and comic, the show has received recognition and awards due to the actors' success in communicating refined humour, under the direction of Sanda Manu. The show has won the Best Director Award — Sanda Manu, and Costume Design Excellence Award — Adriana Grand at the 2003 National Comedy Festival of Galati (southeastern Romania).

On Sunday, February 9, from 11 a.m. the Small Hall of the National Theatre of Bucharest, Sever Voinescu holds a conference on 'Figaro's Myth. How politics can become likeable,' within the Theatre's conferences programme. The lecture is an attempt to identify the 'craft' of Figaro, a famous character of the universal theatre and opera history, hero of a trilogy by Beaumarchais, and to apply it to today's Romania. Analysing Beaumarchais' plays and Mozart's and Rossini's famous operas, and Beaumarchais' amazing biography, Voinescu tries to answer some questions: 'How could he be so efficient in antagonistic situations, upon which values did he act, and especially, how could he be so pleasant among so many disagreeable characters?'

Also on Sunday, the 'Like CNDB#1' festival of the National Dance Centre (CNDB) opens; it stages at CNDB several contemporary dance shows directed by young artists, book launchings and unconventional workshops. Surprising and extravagant spectacles created by Madalina Dan, Cristina Lilienfeld, Ferenc Sinko and Leta Popescu, Andreea Novac, Vava Stefanescu, and Farid Fairuz will follow until the end of February at CNDB's hall on Marasesti Boulevard.

The official opening of the 'Like CNDB #1' festival is scheduled at 7 p.m. and will be followed by 'Lay(ers)', a show by Cristina Lilienfeld. The play was written during a stay in Luxemburg sponsored by the George Apostu Cultural Center of Bacau (eastern Romania) and the Centre Choregraphique Trois C-L; it has recently won the Grand Award of 'Another National Choreography Contest'. 'Lay(ers) explores the connection between the skin as an organ and emotions. My project starts from an image to which I resonated very strongly both in sensory and emotional terms (...) it is a show where I allow you to enter inside me and see me in all my vulnerability,' Cristina Lilienfeld described her work.

The evening of February 9 is the time for the first martial arts, non-verbal theatre and dance show in Romania — 'The Silk Road', at the Rhapsody Hall of the Theatre on Lipscani Street. The show is performed by Dan Puric's Company and the Shanghai Wushu Sports Club; it features martial arts master Zhu Rong Fu. Starting at 7 p.m., the event will evolve as a combination of Kung Fu/Wushu, pantomime, dance, traditional weapons, seducing costumes, metaphors, and humour, a spectacular mix of Chinese tale and Jackie Chan movie.

Portuguese born singer Dulce Pontes, known as a queen of fado music, will bring these vibrant notes on the stage of the Palace Hall in Bucharest, starting at 8 p.m. on Sunday, February 9. On this occasion, Marcel Pavel is the special guest at the Portuguese artist's concert; they will sing in duet.AGERPRES

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