Romania’s White Horse Performance
A mixture of styles, concepts and props – if you were to describe the “White Horse” Performance in three words, these are the words I would use.
During the White Horse performance, different issues presented the recent past in Romania. Directed by Iona Pawn, themes such as radicalization, morality, communism and even truth of media arise as the story unravels.
The performance is almost a one woman show, with Ilinca Manolache playing different roles back and forth and portraying events in the past as well as in the present. The reason why I call it an “almost” one woman show is the fact that Diana Miron is constantly in the background taking care of music, sounds and sometimes coming onto the stage to sing together with Manolache.
Manolache is simply all over the place, telling various stories and playing different characters. The first character she plays is a journalist who humiliates participants in a court case against Ioan Ficior, a zealous young communist. In 1960 he ran a prison where 100 people died due to mistreatment. This journalist humiliated the participants for the sole purpose of “views”, as apparently people loved watching it.
Manolache’s main prop is a fish tank in which she sometimes uses to drown herself in. When talking to the director, Pawn, she emphasized the importance of the fish tank. She explained that these fish symbolized helplessness and confinement, as well as innocence.
Another role she plays is Ioan Ficior himself, and simultaneously a commander who comes to check on him. Using the power of two microphones, she rushes to each microphone at a time to display a conversation between Ficior and this commander, all on her own. Pawn explained that the microphones showed two different characters and that they symbolized a position of power.
With the help of rap music, Manolache’s next story shows a teenage Hungarian baron in 1944 who kills a peasant in front of the man’s younger brother, Ioan Ficior. This may have been an attempt to show how Ficior first witnessed an act of cruelty which later in life defined his character, as a sign of understanding Ficior and his actions.
The many props in the performance help Manolache tell these stories artistically and not so straight-forward. Even though the play was in Romanian, translation in English was provided and the movements, actions and intonations helped to get a better sense of the play.