Register here . Running time: 50 minutes. This play will be performed in English
‘There should be a grid at the entrance to every soul. So no one can get inside it with a knife.’ (Marin Sorescu)
By his own admission, Jonah’s unlucky and that’s all there is to it. Unlucky enough that he can only catch fish that’s already been caught. That is, until he himself is caught by a fish. Can he count on God to deliver him to the light, just like in the Biblical myth, or does he need to find his own way?
Based loosely on the story of the prophet swallowed by a whale, Marin Sorescu‘s Jonah (1968) is a lyrical parable about solitude, life, the choices we make and the choices that have been made for us. After being banned by the Communist censorship in the years after it was first published, Jonah has been played extensively in post-Communist Romania, but it only gets its London premiere this month through a collaboration between the Romanian Cultural Institute and Kibo Productions.
Opened in October 2016, the theatrical space in the Romanian Cultural Institute has attracted growing interest with the British public, the demand for seats at previous events far outweighing the venue capacity. Situated in a beautiful historical building in the heart of Belgravia, 2 minutes from Hyde Park, the Institute’s mission is to promote Romanian culture and values to London audiences.
This is the first time collaboration between the Institute and Kibo Productions, an emerging production company passionate about bringing vibrant texts to the masses. Kibo’s previous productions include Tea Set, a one-woman show by popular Irish writer Gina Moxley, that enjoyed two runs in London (Barons Court Theatre, White Bear Theatre) and went to the Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Fringe 2015 with the support of Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Hugh Boneville; also, Love, Hate, and Human Rights, a showcase of new plays protesting the persecution of the LGBT community in Russia, with support of LGBT advocates Peter Tatchell and Stephen Fry (2013, Barons Court Theatre).
‘Inspiring, engaging, intelligent, thoughtful and thought-provoking.’
(Raksha Patel, Vada Magazine on Love, Hate, and Human Rights)
‘A simple story beautifully told.’
(Lyn Gardner, The Guardian on Tea Set)
Director Sharon Willems on Jonah:
‘Sorescu’s language carries you to world unseen, steeped in philosophy and wonder, far beneath the sea. A world that is part nightmare and part fairy tale; Jonah’s desperate struggle to survive his loneliness is at the heart of his poetic journey.’
The cast, creative and production team includes:
Playwright: Marin Sorescu
Translation: Andrea Deletant and Brenda Walker
Director: Sharon Willems
Cast: Alin Balascan
Producers: Raluca Cimpoiasu (RCI) and Leonard Bacica (Kibo);
Original Music by Andrea Biondo
Video Design by Cristian Luchian
Poster Design by Alex Suchea
Alin Balaşcan is a young Romanian actor who, after having studied at East 15 Acting School in London, followed training in Shakespeare’s Works with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s Globe. He played Angus in ‘Macbeth’ while at the SG under the direction of the acclaimed Joanne Howarth. He then went on studying Harold Pinter’s works at The Cockpit Theatre where he starred in ‘Night’ and ‘No Man’s Land’. In 2013 he made his West End debut in the spectacular production of ‘In the Beginning Was the End’ at Somerset House, in a double role for which he was mentioned by several publications including The Guardian. He was also part of the first production of Saviana Stănescu’s ‘Aliens with Extraordinary Skills’ in London at Leicester Square Theatre. In 2016, Alin played several roles in Immersive Theatre’s celebratory production of Tristan Tzara’s plays at the Romanian Cultural Institute in London. Currently he is working towards his debut in International Film&TV.
Sharon Willems is the artistic director of Kibo Productions and previously directed Kibo’s five-star production of Tea Set by Gina Moxley (The White Bear/Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh) starring Amy Molloy. Prior to this Sharon directed the UK Première of Birthday by Brooklyn-based playwright Crystal Skillman (Waterloo East Theatre/Camden Fringe) and wrote the foreword for the subsequent Samuel French publication. She has curated several new writing events for Kibo Productions and this summer will work with award-winning playwright, Jaki McCarrick (Leopoldville, PapaTango Prize) to develop Tussy, a new work on the life of feminist revolutionary Eleanor Marx. Sharon is also a freelance director and dramaturg and has worked across London on new writing for Little Pieces of Gold, The Off Cut Festival, Papa Tango Theatre Company, and Salt Theatre Company.
Prolific Romanian poet, playwright, novelist and essayist, nonconformist explorer of existential uncertainties and the absurdity of human condition, Marin Sorescu’s ironic voice emerged in Romanian literature in the 1960s. Sorescu’s first book, ‘Singur printre poeţi’ (1964) (‘Alone Among Poets‘), was a collection of poetic parodies and pastiches of conventional lyrical expressions. The work was an immediate success. It was followed by ‘Poeme. Versuri. Parodii’, 1965 (‘Poems. Verses. Parodies‘), ‘Moartea ceasului’, 1966 (‘The Death of the Clock‘), ‘Poeme’, 1967 (‘Poems‘), and ‘Tinerețea lui Don Quijote’, 1968 (‘Don Quijote’s Tender Years‘). His existentialist themes, at the same time universal and subjective, placed his work into the wide context of the avant-garde. With ‘Iona’, 1968 (‘Jonah‘), written at the beginning of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s reign, ‘Paracliserul’, 1970 (‘The Verger‘) and ‘Matca’, 1973 (‘The Matrix‘), all three constructed on the themes of creation and destruction, Sorescu established his reputation as a major modern playwright. The trilogy was published in the UK for the first time in 1985 under the title ‘The Thirst of the Salt Mountain’. Although Sorescu’s dramas drew full houses, they were soon deemed controversial and withdrawn by the censorship. In the 1970s, Sorescu started to write historical dramas in the Brechtian Epic-dramatic style. “For the playwright, history is like a bone to a dog,” Sorescu was writing in the preface to ‘Vlad Dracula, the Impaler‘ (1978). Throughout the1980s his literature was heavily censored. After the 1989 Revolution ‘Censored Poems’ was printed – a collection featuring one of the author’s masterpieces, ‘House Under Surveillance’. In self-mockery Marin Sorescu was saying about his writing: “I can’t give up smoking just because I don’t smoke, and I can’t give up writing just because I have no talent.” Throughout his career Sorescu received several awards, including the Romanian Writers’ Union Prize in 1965, 1968, and 1974, the International Poetry Festival Gold Medal, Naples (1969), the Romanian Academy Prize, first time in 1970 and then several other times, the Poetry Prize of the Academia delle Muze, Florence (1978), the International Fernando Riello Prize, Madrid (1983), the Herder Prize, Austria (1991). In 1983 Sorescu became a corresponding member of the Mallarmé Academy and in 1991 he became a member of the Romanian Academy. Marin Sorescu was Romania’s Nobel Prize nominee in 1996, the year he died of liver cancer at the age of 60.