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Bulgaria is a country to return to, not to live in

27 May 2014 / 14:05:05  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

On 24 May, the Bulgarians in Athens had the opportunity to watch "Mr Balkanski", a performance of the State Theatre of Satire based on Aleko Konstantinov’s feuilletons, which are relevant even today and the main character of which is Bai Ganjo. After the performance, theatre actor and director of Dupnitza municipal theatre Svetoslav Peev talked with the GRReporter team.

Mr Peev, why is this work still as relevant more than 100 years after it was written?

In my opinion, it has undergone various metamorphoses over the years. For example, it concerned one thing when it was written, then another, a third during socialism and now a fourth in times of democracy. However, Aleko Konstantinov’s greatness is that he is always relevant. Whatever happens, this is an image of Bulgarians and different traits of theirs come to the fore at various times.

You were director and actor in many productions by Stanislav Stratiev. I would like to ask you if now Bulgaria is closer to the Bulgaria as seen by Aleko Konstantinov or to the Bulgaria as seen by Stanislav Stratiev.

Well, these are different things. I am very addicted to Stanislav Stratiev. He was, and still is, a very close person to me. We are staging over the 200th consecutive performance of "Roman Bath" at the Theatre of Satire. Previously, the performance was played for 16 years. We have been playing it with Hristo Garbov for eight years now and the theatre is always full to the brim. My colleague Yonko Tsonev and I staged a performance after Stratiev and I was its director. It is called "A mild form of a severe depression." People like it a lot and it applies to the situation both in Greece and in Bulgaria. It sings about Bulgaria and foreign countries. You come to Bulgaria for two weeks but stay for one. You see destruction ... and generally, a lot of things that a person who lives outside Bulgaria sees inside it.

Stratiev lived 50 years before us but all he wrote is true today and people like his works very much. The play sings, "A country to return to, not to live in." These are very sad things.

What is your comment on the European elections, Europe and its problems today through the prism of Bulgaria and on the solution of the Bulgarian issues in Europe?

Over all these years, no government has worked for Bulgaria through the European Union but many governments have worked for themselves through the European Union. It might sound sharp but greed in Bulgaria is exceptional and highly respected.

You see how many of the former socialist countries have made significant progress. The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are far ahead of us. They did not experience these shocks during these 23 years of democracy, which are continuing even now in Bulgaria.

I do not believe that tomorrow (Sunday, 25 May – author’s note) there will be a miracle and that we will elect people who will fight for this country and represent Bulgaria in the European Parliament so that Bulgarians benefit therein. You probably watch Bulgarian TV channels and see the illiterate hysteria that is reigning in connection with the pre-election campaign. They are speaking of the elections as if they are not European but national. They are presenting some social issues, but they are different. They need to be addressed after we have already achieved something in Europe and then to improve the life of Bulgarians. Here they speak such indescribable nonsense... I may sound extreme but it is true. Very few people are saying what they have to say now at these elections. The people in Bulgaria are very confused and the major parties, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party, are fighting over who will receive one more vote. However, the fight is not related to this. Furthermore, all parties are speaking to the people as if they are illiterate. Things are terrible. I never expected that the campaign would take place in this way.

Let us get back to the play in which Bai Ganjo says exactly how elections take place. He says, "I can choose one donkey." And the worst part is that this continues even today.

However, I believe in the generation of 40-45-year olds who are not prejudiced in terms of those 45 years. We were all prejudiced. Young people are different. Among my colleagues, there are great people such as Kamen Donev, Hristo Boychev. Listen to them in the media; they speak in a great way. These smart people want to cash in on this. I would like to see Bulgaria making a small step forward.

Svetoslav Peev dedicated to GRReporter readers an autograph, in which he answers the question that Aleko Konstantinov puts through his character Bai Ganjo and which is a burden to Bulgaria even today,
"Will we be with the Russians or with the Germans?" asks Bai Ganjo. Slavtcho Peev says, "With the Bulgarians in Europe!"

 

Tags: SocietyPlay Mr BalkanskiState Theatre of SatireSvetoslav Peev
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