Today, October 28, FIRE THEATRE Mime Company, Sofia starts the 6fest Street Art Festival with Metamorphoses reviewing the world classics with fiery elements. With this post, I introduce readers of Cultural Insights to one of the outstanding Bulgarian art companies FIRE THEATER, one of the pioneers of independent contemporary Bulgarian theatres with over a 25-year history.

I asked Plamen Radev, one of the directors and creators of FIRE THEATRE, to shed more light on their performance. The following text is his comments with my slight editing:

On Metamorphoses: ‘The theatrical is leading and the fire is the main protagonist’

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First of all, I want to emphasize that this is not a show, something in which spectacle and entertainment are leading, but a theatrical performance in the true sense of the word.

In this sense, FIRE THEATER is quite different from most fire groups working in our country. Our background is in the theatre. Elena Pap and I are professional directors and creators of FIRE THEATER (1994), which belongs to the first wave of independent companies in Bulgaria.

When the theatrical is leading, the performance sends messages to the audience and encourage it to re-evaluate some values.

We started our experiments with fire in a theatrical context in 2006 and, gradually, for outdoor performance, we created the specific genre “fiery drama”.

We combine the ancient and poetic Mime art with the energy of fiery art, the modern circus, the street performative forms, the puppet theatre and the theatre of masks, the carnival and the visual arts.

In Metamorphoses for 6fest, we’ve presented to the modern viewer its essence, the message, which in our opinion is valid even today:

 “In our changing world, the Soul is the only thing that remains unchanged. The man was created to look at Heaven and to be equal to the stars, not to succumb to the pressure of earthly passions.

Fire is not just an effect for us. It’s the main protagonist in the show. Its use is conditioned by the meaning, and it is presented everywhere – as a means of expression, conveying the essence of the character, as part of the costumes, in the scenery.

The play was created with the financial support of the Sofia Culture Program and is dedicated to the translator Georgi Batakliev – the man who made this text available to the Bulgarian reader. This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. The premiere was on October 11 in Sofia.

On the 6fest crowdfunding campaign: ‘We made a big discount to have 6fest’

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The conditions for participation in the festival have already been agreed on. Let me put it this way – we have made a serious compromise, discount, in the name of having the festival.

Indeed, each show has its own cost. Fiery performances and outdoor performances are difficult to realize and expensive, they require serious dedication and workload from the actors – much more than in the conventional theatre. 

We hope that the spectators and those on whom the future of culture in our country depends will realize this. The work of actors in general, and in particular those who work with fire and outdoors, is heavy, very specialized, involves a high level of stress and risk. It should be paid back accordingly. Something that, alas, is still not happening in our country.

The most important thing, in our opinion, is to behave as a community, to stop the practice of each group working for itself, of feeling others as competitors. We all ride in the stormy sea of ​​the Bulgarian cultural reality in one boat – it is good to cooperate and help each other, to exchange information, to defend as a community the causes important to us.

On social projects: ‘We activate the civic activism of young people’

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We have just completed a project related to the activation and provocation of civic activity of young people in small towns. In this case, we are talking about the town of Yablanitsa. The project is called Art-ivism: Together, Here, Now, and aims to awaken youth initiative and build youth leaders through the arts. We implemented it with the financial support of the National Youth Program.

 For us, it was an extremely intense and valuable experience. We believe that it will have its sequel – the project ended with an incubator for ideas, in which concepts were developed for three new projects for which local youth initiative groups applied and which are to implement with our help.

Many of our performances include non-professionals in different phases of the project and with various tasks. Such was the Aylak parade, one of our collaborative projects in the framework of Plovdiv 2019 during the Plovdiv 2019. Over 500 visitors from Plovdiv participated in it.

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For 10 years, we have been organizing summer carnival laboratories, using which we allow people who have never encountered the art of street performance and carnival arts to try our devices. We teach them to walk on stilts, spin fire, sticks, flags, juggle…This also helps us to stay in constant and direct contact with the audience.

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In the future, I will write more about JAR THEATER, and now it would be great if you follow my example and support the prominent artists in the crowdfunding campaign 6fest. This will support the people who develop the cultural heritage in Bulgaria and promote it worldwide.

This post is the last part of #6festhotweek, a communication campaign an ethnographic study I launched in the support of the 7 Bulgarian fire art-group, the participants of 6fest. More details about the crowdfunding campaign and the other participants of 6fest are on my Facebook and this, this, this, this, this and this posts.