Wednesday, 18 May 2016

I'm Not Jesus Dramaturgy: Maria Manolescu @ Wandsworth Fringe

May 9th-12th, 15th-19th, 22nd 
Theatre N16@TheBedford, 
77 Bedford Hill 
Balham, SW12 9HD
Tickets: £12; 7.15pm to 8.40pm

11 year old Mihai has been raised to believe he is the second coming of Jesus Christ…all he really wants is to be like his hero Michael Schumacher.  But as his birthday approaches it turns out his mother has other ideas…

I’m Not Jesus Christ’ is the English language theatre debut of one of Romania’s most exciting writers, Maria Manolescu, who developed the play while a member of the Royal Court Theatre’s International Residency Programme.  

Produced by acclaimed new writing company, Papercut Theatre, directed by Melissa Dunne (Theatre 503, Arcola) and translated by Cristina Catalina.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

In 2007, when I wrote it as an exercise for the Royal Court International Residency, it happened for real in my country: a mother with mental problems believed that her son is Jesus Christ, and the media immediately jumped on this very juicy case. The rest is my invention.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

I was very lucky to meet Cristina Catalina (actress, producer and translator), who originally translated the play for The Royal Court Residency in 2007. She sent the play to the wonderful director Melissa Dunne who managed to gather the perfect and gifted team.

How did you become interested in making performance?

My father is a theatre director, so I wanted to become one, but at some point in college I became aware by the fact that I`m not good at this. After few years of working in advertising and one epiphany while traveling far away, I decided to try again, this time as a playwright. Now, after 10 years, I still think it was a good idea.  

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?

Well, unfortunately I couldn't be here for the rehearsals, but I used to be more involved in a production only when I research and
develop the text together with the director and the team. So this process was typical for the 50% of the cases when I just give an almost finished play to a director who likes it as it is.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Unease, empathy and that special kind of sweet shock and liberating feeling that only dark humour can bring to us.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I was interested in playing as much as possible with the concept of storytelling in the most theatrical way I could imagine for this play. Because I love stories, my main character loves them and because I think stories have a very special power, in many good and bad ways, and we have to be aware of them all.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

Well, I try to think more about each subject I`m writing about and less about my work as a whole. But if you would ask me whose apprentice I`d like to be, given the chance, I`d say, without hesitation, Edward Albee.

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