Thursday, February 28, 2008


Did this happen to you too? I'm having a hard time putting together my portfolio, I've done too many things, in too many directions, it's hard to organize them... I've had three attempts and all the "portfolio embryos" look awful, unfocused and disorganized - failed attempts to quantify and display my achievements...

This blog turns more and more into a diary and less and less into witty commentary on theatre or socio-political events ... Well, I guess that's it, this is my private-public dialog with myself. I'm gonna indulge in self-reflexivity for as long as I can.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I've just decided that sooner or later I will have to write my memoirs, tell the whole story: childhood, family, the legend of Manole Master who buried his wife Ana alive in the walls of the monastery he was commissioned to build by the Black King of Walachia (cuz art requires sacrifice, that's what we learned in school, but why the artist had to be male and the sacrificed "material" a woman, his wife? - that we didn't learn, and we didn't ask, and we still didn't answer), and I will have to write about high school and teen problems, and communism, and college in Bucharest, and revolution, and the fall of communism, and the new life as a journalist, and about corruption, and the new life as a wife, and about love and emotional abuse, and about kids and non-kids, and about books and plays and theatre, and a first trip abroad, then a second, then ... about love in another language, and love OF another language, and writing in another language, and moving into another language, this language, English. I'll have to write about all that, and more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


As tomorrow is my birthday and I usually get depressed and anxious on my birthday - yes, I am one of those people who are in denial of time passing and their getting older - I thought of just posting the title poem from my new book GOOGLE ME! (you can google me and find out where you can buy it :)


I had to move into another language
Mine was too small too poor too lazy
Too beautiful but self-destructive
In an old-fashioned romantic way
The words grew to fight with each other
And die on cyber battle fields
Defeated by the God of Internet
And the American Dream always reborn
Out of the ash of our daily nightmares
Google me! Google me!
Everyone I know googles me now
Google is my proof that I exist
I think therefore I am?
No. I have a website therefore I am.
I actually don’t have a website
That’s why I really needed to move into the
English language.
So people who google me can understand who I am
And what I am doing
On this noisy earth.
I called the movers to help me
No one answered
But I must say that
The voice of the machine answering my call
Was really sweet
She said Thank you for calling Global Movers
You need a passport
You need a visa
You need to wait in line at the American Embassy
In Bucharest
You need to get up early
There are people waiting since last night
Sleeping on the sidewalk across the Embassy
You can’t stay on the same side
There are guards guarding
And you don’t have an American passport
So thank you for calling and try again
During our office hours
Although we don’t actually have office hours
We are an internet company.
Visit our website you can travel
Wherever you want
On our website
We are looking forward to your feedback
Write it down on
So why do I need to move at all?
Why do I need to travel?
There’s a McDonalds on my block in Bucharest
There’s a cinema with Hollywood movies
two blocks away
I’ve got a laptop a DVD player an American
Everything is fine
Global Movers I don’t need you
I’ll just stay here
In my small Romanian apartment.
I’ll google everything and everybody
I’ll live a full life
In English without subtitles
And I’ll never move
I’ll never talk
But I will have a funny screen name
Like Peaches-in-the-sun or Hole-in-the-flag

Monday, February 18, 2008

The off-Broadway "Unspecified Country"

A few case-studies

A few days ago, after seeing "Killing the Boss" by Catherine Filloux at Cherry Lane Theatre (an honest and moving play), I had a revelation: many of the new plays that address foreign issues, written by American dramatists, tend to be set in "unspecified countries". Or the foreign character is from the same - actually not at all the same - "unspecified country".
Of course that implies a country torn by wars and economical problems, dictatorships and other hardships. And the people from those countries are - in most of the cases - the usual stereotypical representations with some touching variations.

In Julia Cho's "The Piano Teacher" we hear about a husband whose dark past and terrible stories are shared with innocent American kids, disturbing them, making them commit crimes (if they were already inclined to violence). In Rhinne Groff's "Inky", it's the young live-in immigrant maid from some Eastern European country, who sleeps with the middle-class husband of the nice middle-class wife, although our girl was supposed/paid to focus on taking care of their well-behaved kids. And of course, her English is very poor. In the imaginative "The Internationalist", Ann Washburn invented a whole language for her "unspecified country" and I must say that she created an original play with parodic accents, making a good use of the stereotypes.

At the other end of the American plays-with-foreigners, we have Sarah Ruhl's "The clean house", where things get more specific with the Brazilian maid telling jokes in Portuguese, adding complexity and spices to this beautiful and poetic play. In J.T. Rodgers's "The Overwhelming" things get overwhelmingly specific. The exploration of the context of the genocide in Rwanda unfolds in a precise manner, with a witty use of the language.
And tonight I saw a truly powerful play: BETRAYED by George Packer, directed by Pippin Parker, at Culture Project. Close to a docudrama, the play is based on an well-researched essay Packer wrote in 2007 for the New Yorker and one can feel that the characters in his play are made of flesh and blood and born out of outrage and care for those Iraqi interpretors working in the Green Zone of a turbulent Baghdad, seen as traitors by their own people and treated with indifference by the American military. Except for one American official, their boss Bill Prescott, an idealist who understands and helps them, risking a nervous breakdown, and ending up outside the system. The relationships are nuanced by Packer with such a tender attention to details and cultural specific differences, that he manages to effortlessly get the audiences immersed in the lives of those people."Betrayed" is really a play worth seeing, go today!

Dramatic Living and Dramatic Writing

One might conclude that's more effective and "fair-trade" to be specific and do intensive research on those countries your characters are from, it gives depth and complexity to the play. Others might argue that the "unspecified country" provides a writer with an easy but meaningful shortcut to universality. Well, maybe. However, at this point, I can't help but insert a plea for the underrepresented writers for whom English is a second language. Broadway and off-Broadway need more plays written by dramatists who lived in those unspecified countries most of their life (and maybe still live there).

Yes, I am subjective in this matter as I am one of those playwrights - shall I specify the country? - who discovered freedom of speech when they were already adults. I wish I could still think of universality, but it stubbornly refuses to seduce me lately. Probably because the history, geography, geometry and architecture of everyday life are too powerful and specific presences. All I want is to have my voice heard here and now, in this life, in this time, in this blog, in this New York. Because what you learn in "those countries" is that tomorrow might not happen for you, so say what you gotta say today.


Thursday, February 14, 2008


All right, I’m spending this Valentine noon with my most devoted “lover” – the laptop – writing a few notes for you, whoever/wherever you are, bloggers around the world, unite and read each other!

OK, I did something even more devilishly non-Valentinish this morning: I read an awesome book that put me in the perfect anti-romantic mood. The mood of thinking about the nature of Evil. Yeah, I know, harsh topic for a day full of pink hearts and chocolate kisses. The book is called The Luciffer Effect – Understanding How Good People turn Evil, by the psychologist Philip Zimbardo whom some of you might know: he’s the author of the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, when a bunch of students played the roles of guards while others were the prisoners, and the experiment got out of control as the guys began to either feel empowered to control and dominate the others (the guards) or be depressed and let themselves be abused psychologically and emotionally, if not even physically (the prisoners). Now, Zimbardo adds to his theories on the psychology of imprisonment new facts and insights into the Abu Ghrahib situation, as he was an expert witness for one of the MP prison guards.

Anyway, read the book, I don’t have time now to indulge into a serious analysis, but I’m truly enjoying it, it’s a powerful “anatomy of human psychology” and it definitely brings into your mind questions about the ways in which the circumstances of our upbringing, of our lives in different countries and political-social contexts, affect us. The banality of Evil and its reverse, the banality of heroism; how some people put in a particular set of circumstances can commit unbelievable atrocities while others can choose to rebel, to act against the system, to save a life, or many. There’s so much to say and I've already exceeded my limit of wise&dark thoughts on a pink Valentine day.

Oh, one more thing, reading “Lucifer ….” wasn’t a masochistic way of spending the morning, it’s called research: I’m writing a dramatic text about interrogation&torture for a dance-theatre piece with Dan Safer’s Witness Relocation. Yeah, I even had to spend the Christmas holidays reading the History of Torture ☺

However, in some sorta pervert way, after reading about Evil this morning, I’ve probably exorcised the darker thoughts from hidden corners of my memory and I’m now just ready to eat my boiled jumbo egg (a morning-ritual postponed for the book), finish my coffee, get dressed (choose between black and red for the blouse – red!) and go out, it’s a sunny day, I have to teach at NYU, then party with Voice&Vision, then … well, things can be pinkish if you want, it’s a matter of choosing the right clothes, the right peeps and the right thoughts.


Saturday, February 9, 2008


OK. So... I'm starting a blog... Yeah, enough with the self-absorbed self-conscious self-indulgent self-induced self-read old-fashioned diary! My little pink notebook hidden under the pillow when I was 12, and 13, and 14, and 15, is now a super-yellowish relic, good to be buried in the cemetery of teenage rage and frustration... Oh yeah, of course, I've had a a bunch of e-diaries more recently, files that I email myself from time to time, you know, for backup, but enough with that too, it's becoming boring, tiring and ineffective. Plus it's narcissistic, navel-gazing, and somewhat masturbatory - in an intellectual kinda way of course.
So I say E-NOUGH, it's time to share savvy thoughts, savvy words and savvy-savi with the world. Not that I imagine The World would be particularly interested in me, but hey, you never know.

I used to be a journalist in my home country Romania, I got "reborn" in NYC in 2001 and here I am, another English-language writer with a new American identity, American references, American friends, American grad studies and American dreams biensure, cuz they come with the whole package if they hadn't already got settled into your brain years and years before the palpable reality of your visa and your plane ticket.

So yeah, I guess this is gonna be a sorta immigrant diary, a globalforeigner's diary, a theatre person's diary, a playwright's diary, a critic's diary, a poet's diary, a woman's diary, a Balkan-gal's diary, a ... all right, enough! - it's just a diary shared with (hopefully) thousands of blog voyeurs who get some pleasure in immersing into other people's lives and thoughts.

And yeah, sure, I can take comments, insights, criticism, smart or stupid replies, witty or silly questions, or answers, or thoughts, or ramblings, or rants, whatever. Just no curses please. Although sometimes it's fun to learn curses in different languages, that's how you see the most original dark side of a language, haven't you noticed? And curses might be the most genuine cultural exchange, aren't they what your new foreign friends love to teach you after a couple of beers or cosmos at multi-cultural festivals, gatherings and conferences around the world? (Well, not at the highly intellectual ones, those peeps try to keep sober, decent, smart, politically correct, "effortlessly" maintaining the interactions in the realm of academic politeness spiced up - in some occasions only - by what the Brits call conference-shags... )

Curses are fucking global. They don't necessarily express anger and violence, but a deeply repressed need to be understood by the Other. Don't get me wrong, I hate to be cursed or to curse in real life, but in writing/talking in a language that's not your first, curse words grow to have a certain charm, you feel you have a more intimate connection with that language, you feel accepted "inside". Maybe that's because so many curses involve sexual terms... Anyway, this is not an essay on curses and their role in fostering social and personal change. I'm rambling. But who cares, it's my BLOG, I'm doing here whatever I want. Forget my old doll Lily, my Little Mermaid slides, my red bike Pegas, my lit'pink-journal, times demand a new toy - the blog.
And who am I to say no to the Gods of Internet - with G from Google - to the new times of fast-food, fast-thought and fast-love. I better start fast-blogging. Gee, it's fun!