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     Brief history

Ion  Cazaban                      

Ancient times There is archaeological evidence of primary theatre performances - similar to those of Ancient Greece - on the territory of Dobrudja, in the former Greek cities situated on the Black Sea Coast; the Romanian writer, Ion Marin Sadoveanu, describes the local "Dionysia" in his book called "The Sea Bull".

10th - 18th century

Ancient forms of folk performances - "călușul", "drăgaica", "unchiașii", "cucii", "turca" or "brezaia".

16th - 18th century

Performances at the princely and boyars' courts - parades, pantomimes, dances, shadow and puppet theatre, acrobatics, farces, sleight-of-hands, buffoneries. Professional theatre forms, in Romanian and Hungarian languages, come into being on the territory of Transylvania .

18th - 19th century

Other forms of folk performances - "Irozii", the puppets, "Jienii", the peasant wedding, the bear, the goat, "Vicleimul".

1755 - 1756

School theatre in Transylvania - performances organized by  Prof. Grigore Maior, directed by Vasile Neagoe Orbul, with the pupils of the Gymnasium of Blaj (performances also in : Sebeș, Alba Iulia, Vinț Cut).

1777 - 1780

Occisio Gregorii in Moldavia tragedice expressa, assigned to  Samuil Vulcan - performed by the boarding school pupils of the Blaj Gymnasium.

19th century

Performances in Romanian language based on classical texts.


Dangerous Neighbourhood by August von Kotzebue - performed by the company of Johann Gerger, at the Redutelor Hall, Brașov.


Myrthil and Chloe, after Gessner and Florian - organized by Gh. Asachi, the C. Ghica Houses, Iași.


Hecuba by Euripides - the "Red Fountain" theatre, Bucharest.


"The Literary Society" - Bucharest. Founded by Ion Heliade Rădulescu and Dinicu Golescu, it aimed to create a national theatre with an adequate repertory.


"The Philharmonic Society" - Bucharest.


"The School of Vocal Music, Declamation and Literature" within the Philharmonic Society. The first performance of the pupils with Mahomet by Voltaire, prepared by the actor - professor C. Aristia.


"The Philharmonic - Dramatic Conservatory", Iași. The pupils' repertory includes plays by Kotzebue, Gh. Asachi.


Premiere of the comedy Coana Chirița la Iași (Mistress Chirița in Iași) by Vasile Alecsandri, at the theatre in Iași. Important original plays - future classics of the Romanian dramaturgy - are being performed.


The main representative of the national school of comedy, the actor Matei Millo, initiates the first tour in the country.


Inauguration of the Great Theatre of Bucharest.


Foundation of the music and declamation conservatories in Iași and Bucharest.


Premiere of the historical drama Răzvan and Vidra by Bogdan Petriceicu Hașdeu, with Mihail Pascaly, a romantic structured actor, in the title role - the Great Theatre, Bucharest.


First tour of Mihai Pascaly in Transylvania and Banat.


The foundation of the "Society for Romanian theatre fund in Transylvania". The society organizes annual meetings in different Transylvanian cities, thus stimulating the cultural-artistic life in Romanian language.


The Great Theatre of Bucharest becomes the National Theatre, under the directorship of the writer Alexandru Odobescu.


Promulgation of the law stating the foundation of the "Dramatic Society" of the Bucharest actors.


Premieres of the comedy O noapte furtunoasă (A Stormy Night) by I. L. Caragiale and of the drama Despot Vodă by Vasile Alecsandri - National Theatre of Bucharest.


Premiere of the comedy O scrisoare pierdută (A Lost Letter) by I. L. Caragiale - National Theatre of Bucharest. The style particularities and exigencies of Caragiale's dramas influence the formation and acting manner of the comedians at the end of the century: Ștefan Iulian, N. M. Mateescu, Maria Ciucurescu, Ion Brezeanu, Ion Niculescu, Ion Anestin.


Premiere of the drama Năpasta (The Misfortune) by I. L. Caragiale - National Theatre of Bucharest.


The first tour of a Romanian theatre company abroad: in Vienna, Grigore Manolescu and Aristizza Romanescu present Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. The two performers, together with C. I. Nottara, Ion Petrescu, and the actors of the "Caragiale comedy school" increase the reputation of  the Romanian thatre.

20th century


Premiere of the drama Vlaicu Vodă by Al. Davila, with Aristide Demetriade - National Theatre of Bucharest - playing the title role.

1905 - 1908

First directorship of Al. Davila at the National Theatre of Bucharest (second directorship: 1912 - 1913).


Paul Gusty is appointed stage director at the National Theatre of Bucharest, proving to be one of the most important Romanian personality in this field at the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century.

1909 - 1914

Foundation of the first private theatre companies in Bucharest: "Davila", "Marioara Voiculescu", "Bulandra".

A new generation of distinguished actors, such as: Aristide Demetriade, Petru Liciu, C. Belcot, Aglae Pruteanu, Constantin Radovici, Maria Filotti, George Storin, Petre Sturdza, Marioara Voiculescu -  bring a new and modern spirit in theatre performance. 


Inauguration of the National Theatre in Cluj. Other national theatre are opened in Cernăuți and Chișinău.

1920 - 1940

Various cultural and avant-garde groups, such as: Studio" (1920), "Poesis" (1921), "Insula" (1922 - 1923), "Atelier" (1923), "Contimporanul" (1925), "13 + 1" (1932 - 1933) encourage the synchronization of the Romanian theatre with the European theatrical movement. The trend is obvious in the creative performances of the national theatres or private companies ("Marioara Voiculescu", "Bulandra").

Many of the Romanian actors gain glory on the world's famous stages: Elvira Popescu, De Max, Yonel, la Paris, Mihai Popescu la Viena, etc.

During the inter-war period, the activity of stage directors such as: Soare Z. Soare, Victor Ion Popa, Aurel Ion Maican, Ion Sava, George Mihail Zamfirescu highlight a new outlook towards art and the role of a stage director. They promote a new theatrical attitude and a stylized (often expressionist or constructivist) vision.

Under their direction, the actors' performances balance tradition and modernity, prove vitality and stylistic convenience, going from psychologic composition to ludic stylization.  The most famous actors of this time are: Aura Buzescu, Ion Manolescu, Nicolae Bălțățeanu, George Vraca, Tony Bulandra, Ion Iancovescu, Gheorghe Timică, V. Maximilian, Ion Finteșteanu, Mihai Popescu, George Calboreanu, Grigore Vasiliu Birlic, Miluță Gheorghiu, Constantin Ramadan, Leni Caler, Magda Tâlvan.

Successful original dramas are due to Camil Petrescu:  Jocul ielelor (The Fairies Dance) - 1919, Suflete tari (Strong Souls ) - 1922, Danton - 1925, Lucian Blaga: Tulburarea apelor (Turbid Waters) - 1923, Meșterul Manole (Master Manole) - 1927, Cruciada copiilor (The Children's Cruisade) - 1930, Avram Iancu - 1934, G. M. Zamfirescu: Domnișoara Nastasia (Miss Nastasia) - 1927, Sam - 1928, Mihail Sebastian: Jocul de-a vacanța (Feigning Holidays)  - 1936, Steaua fără nume (The Star without a Name) - 1943, V. Eftimiu, G. Ciprian, Adrian Maniu, V. Voiculescu, Al. Kirițescu, Tudor Mușatescu, etc.

1945 - 1955

A large number of theatres are founded in most of the main cities (over 30 dramatic theatres and over 20 puppet theatres).


Ion Sava stages Macbeth by Shakespeare, with masks - National Theatre, Bucharest.


The new law of theatres reflects the new political regime.


Nationalization of the private theatres.

1948 - 1954

Theatrical seasons dominated by an idelogically selected repertory and by naturalist stagings - yet, with some memorable performances of classics: O scrisoare pierdută  (A Lost Letter) and O noapte furtunoasă (A Stormy Night) by I. L. Caragiale, The Inspector General by Gogol - directed by Sică Alexandrescu; Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare, the Three Sisters by Cehov - directed by Moni Ghelerter.

1955 - 1965

The art of performance begins to diversify from the typological point of view, triggering a renewal process that is first to be observed in stage design and costumes (made by Toni Gheorghiu, Tody Constantinescu, Liviu Ciulei), then in the unity of stage creation. There is an obvious trend towards "popular", imaginative and expresssive shows, with "epic", "agitational" or public "debates"-like representation methods. The stage direction style uses metaphors, symbols, hyperboles and aims for "theatrical poetry".


The National Theatre of Bucharest performs O scrisoare pierdută  (A Lost Letter) by I. L. Caragiale - stage director Sică Alexandrescu - and Ultima oră (Last Hour) by M. Sebastian - stage director Moni Ghelerter - at the Nations' Theatre in Paris.

Stage directors such as: Liviu Ciulei, David Esrig, Radu Penciulescu, Horea Popescu, Lucian Giurchescu, Valeriu Moisescu, Marietta Sadova, Dinu Cernescu, Sorana Coroamă aim to enhance and diversify the expressiveness of the actors, in order to perform "complex" shows.

1965 - 1989

The main playwrights of this time are: Horia Lovinescu, Paul Everac, Aurel Baranga, Teodor Mazilu, Dumitru Radu Popescu, Paul Anghel, Marin Sorescu, Romulus Guga.

A long series of outstanding performances confirm the professional evolution of future world famous stage directors such as: Liviu Ciulei, David Esrig, Lucian Pintilie, Radu Penciulescu, Gyorgy Harag, Vlad Mugur, Lucian Giurchescu, Dinu Cernescu, Crin Teodorescu, Valeriu Moisescu, Horea Popescu. Lor li se adaugă, din noile promoții: Andrei Șerban, Aureliu Manea, Cătălina Buzoianu, Alexandru Tocilescu, Silviu Purcărete, Tompa Gabor, Dan Micu, Mircea Cornișteanu, Alexandru Dabija, Mihai Mănuțiu, Victor Ion Frunză, Dragoș Galgoțiu, Alexa Visarion.

The scenography is signed by: Paul Bortnovski, Elena Pătrășcanu Veakis, Adriana Leonescu, Ion Popescu - Udriște, T. Th. Ciupe, Dan Nemțeanu, Emilia Jivanov, Dan Jitianu, Mihai Mădescu, Vittorio Holtier, Puiu Antemir, Ștefania Cenean, Adriana Grand, etc.

The most valuable contemporary performances are due to several talented actors belonging to different generations and art groups. Inter-war period: Mihai Popescu, Clody Bertola, Emil Botta, Radu Beligan, Alexandru Giugaru, Grigoe Vasiliu Birlic, Ștefan Ciubotărașu, Jules Cazaban, Irina Răchițeanu - Șirianu, Fory Etterle, Dina Cocea, Colea Răutu, Ion Lucian, Marcel Anghelescu; immediate post-war period: Toma Caragiu, Constantin Codrescu, Octavian Cotescu, Olga Tudorache, Liliana Tomescu, Tamara Buciuceanu, Ileana Predescu, Carmen Stănescu, Marcela Rusu, Silvia Ghelan, Lohinszky Lorand, Ștefan Mihăilescu - Brăila; next series of graduates: Silvia Popovici, George Constantin, Vasile Nițulescu, Gheorghe Cozorici, Constantin Rauțchi, Sanda Toma, Gilda Marinescu, Mihai Pălădescu, Gheorghe Dinică, Marin Moraru, Leopoldina Bălănuță, Gina Patrichi, Irina Petrescu, Stela Popescu, Victor Rebengiuc, Valeriu Ogășanu, Valeria Seciu, Ștefan Iordache, Ion Caramitru, Silviu Stănculescu, Mitică Popescu, Dionisie Vitcu, Mircea Albulescu, Dem Rădulescu, Amza Pellea, Mariana Mihuț, Florin Zamfirescu, Rodica Tapalagă, Mircea Diaconu, Ilie Gheorghe, Horațiu Mălăele, etc.

1989 The December events delivered Romanian theatres from censorship, ideological control and the directives of an opressive cultural policy.
1990 - 1997 Theatre searches go towards very different inspiration sources and theoretical arguments, promoting emotional shock determined by themes,  dramatic images or representation issues.

Although heterogeneous, these quests are defined by the play with customary limits and general accepted distinctions.  We observe a theatrical heteromorphism where shocking contrasts mean assuming deep conflicts: reality - fiction, veridical - conventional, tragical - comical, violence - parody.

New personalities arise in dramaturgy: Matei Vișniec, Vlad Zografi.

The performances directed by: Andrei Șerban (An ancient trilogy, the Cherry Orchard - National Theatre of Bucharest), Alexandru Tocilescu (Hamlet - "Bulandra" Theatre, Bucharest), Silviu Purcărete (Ubu Rex with scenes from Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, Phaedra, The Danaides - National Theatre of Craiova), Alexandru Darie ( the Winter's Tale, the Three Sisters - "Bulandra" Theatre, Bucharest), Mihai Mănuțiu, Cătălina Buzoianu, Tompa Gabor were great hits all over the five continents.

The premieres of each season are selected for the festivals - most of the international - organized in Arad, Bacău, Bîrlad, Botoșani, Brăila, București, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Galați, Iași, Oradea, Piatra Neamț, Pitești, Satu Mare, Sf. Gheorghe, Sibiu, Timișoara, Tg. Mureș.

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