Walking in Bucharest: Tandarica Animation Theatre

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The Tandarica Puppet and Marionette Theatre was founded in 1945; its first section, the marionettes, was directed by actress Lucia Calomeri, aided by stage designers Elena Patrascanu, Alexandru Bratasanu, Lena Constante and Ileana Popescu. The first artistic crew included stage director Nicolae Massim and marionette manipulators Dorina Tanasescu, Antigona Papazicopol, Lucia Georgescu and others.

The name 'Tandarica' was borrowed from a famous marionette, a character of shows for children's audience.

The current Honorary President of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette - International Puppetry Association) Margareta Niculescu founded the puppet section of the theatre in 1949, while she was the new manager of this institution, together with stage director Renee George Silviu and puppeteers Stefi Nefianu, Fifi Bradu, Rita Stoian and Carmen Stamatiade.

The new team was later joined by visual artists Liviu Ciulei, Ella Conovici, Ioana Constantinescu, Mioara Buescu, stage director Stefan Lenkisch, and puppeteers Brandusa Zaita Silvestru, Justin Grad, Misu Prujinski, Costel Popovici, Valeriu Simeon and others. Shows were staged by directors Radu Penciulescu, Silviu Purcarete, Catalina Buzoianu, Cristian Pepino, Victor Ioan Frunza, Ildiko Kovacs, Irina Niculescu, Felix Alexa, Ion Caramitru, among others.

Shows staged until 1990 established new ways of expression in animation theatre: 'Humour on Strings', 'The Little Prince', 'Apollodor's Book', 'The Three Wives of Don Cristobal', 'Me and Dead Matter', 'Cabaret-issimo', 'Peter Pan', 'Ninigra and Aligru', 'Pete and the Wolf', 'Tyl Eulenspiegel', 'Petrushka', 'Don Quixote', etc.

Theatre has hosted four editions (1958, 1960, 1965, and 1998) of the International Festival of Puppet Theatres.

Between 1986 and 1999, the theatre was managed by Michaela Tonitza-Iordachel; under her supervision, important performances were staged, such as: 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', 'The Assembly of Birds', 'The Tempest'; puppet operas were first staged: 'Cinderella', 'Bastien and Bastienne', 'The Barber of Seville'; and long-running shows like 'Puss-in-Boots', 'Pinocchio', 'Harap Alb.'

In 2000, Calin Octavian Mocanu was appointed as manager; he is also the Secretary General of UNIMA-Romania. The president of the Romanian chapter of this professional association is stage director Cristian Pepino.

Besides its two halls on Calea Victoriei (Victory Avenue) and in Lahovary Square, the Tandarica Theatre currently has a new studio, named AnimArt, opened in 2003. This experimental studio was created with the aim of attracting adult audiences, too; it has hosted plays of the classic repertoire like 'Faust', 'Candide', etc., free adaptations of the respective plays.

In 2008, Tandarica Puppet and Marionette Theatre changed its name into Tandarica Animation Theatre.

The theatre has consolidated over time its repertoire strategy in terms of content, including a portfolio from the great classical Romanian and world literature: 'Pacala' (The Prankster, Romanian folk tales character), 'The She-Goat with Three Kids', 'Puss-in-Boots', 'Baron Munchausen', 'The Three Little Pigs', 'Snow White', 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves', 'Cinderella', 'The Beauty and the Beast', 'The Sleeping Beauty', 'Tom Thumb', 'Jack and the Beanstalk', 'Pinocchio', etc.

The theatre also hosts artistic debuts of young artists — actors, directors, stage designers, composers, choreographers, etc.

Since 2010, the Tandarica Animation Theatre sponsored by the Municipality of Bucharest and under the patronage of UNIMA Romania and ASSITEJ (Association Internationale du Theatre pour l'Enfance et la Jeunesse — International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People) Romania hosts the Summer Season 'Theatre, Street and Child'. The project's motto is 'Do something different! Take a child to the theatre today!'; its mission is to take culture where it is uncommon or lacking altogether; it has succeeded in becoming a promoter of education through art, both in Bucharest and in other Romanian cities.

This project was joined by the Ioan Slavici Classic Theatre in Arad (western Romania), the National Philharmonic of Chisinau (Republic of Moldova), the 'Proiect' (Project) Theatre in Campina (north of Bucharest), the House of Culture of Urziceni (south), the George Ciprian Theatre of Buzau (south), the Alexander Davilla Theatre in Ploiesti (north of Bucharest), the Queen Mary [of Romania] Theatre in Oradea (west), the 'Digiplex' Grand Cinema in Baneasa Shopping City (in Bucharest), SOS Children's Villages Romania, and Educ-Art.

The International Animation Theatre Festival 'Joy to the Children. Top Notch Shows' is also held each year; its ninth edition is scheduled in 2013.

The Tandarica Theatre crew had many tours and attended many festivals on almost all continents; it was also awarded a great number of prestigious prizes in national and international contests: the Erasmus Prize for outstanding contributions to the establishment of the cultural profile of contemporary puppet theatre, the National Prize for Puppet Theatres, the Originality Prize, the Prize for Cultural Interrelations in the Theatrical Art, the Grand Prizes at festivals in Tolosa (Spain), Prague (Czech Republic), Botosani (northeastern Romania), Galati (southeastern Romania), etc.

During the autumn of 2013, Tandarica Theatre has participated in five prominent events in Romania: Oradea (Arcadia Theatre and FuxFeszt), Cluj-Napoca and Alba Iulia (central Romania), and Iasi (northeast); it has won two awards. At the Puck International Festival of Puppet and Marionette Theatres in Cluj Napoca, 'A Pig's Tale' directed by Traian Savinescu won the Best Show Award. At the first edition of the Fest(in) Festival on the Boulevard — 'A Terrbile Crisis, My Dear!' organized by the Nottara Theatre of Bucharest, the show 'Candide' directed by Cristian Pepino has been awarded the only prize, the one for the best competing show.AGERPRES

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