little Actors’ Club has a stage at one end and a bar at the other. It’s completely dark inside, the only light seeps in through the windows from the street lamps outside. It is quiet, everyone is sitting and listening, smoking or drinking beer. My eyes adjust and I see a lot of young people, but not only. Many of them are theater types, but I even see one or two suits. Of course, we find the usual ACT suspects – the hardcoreindependent actors Ognian Golev and Irina Docheva; Gergana Dimitrova, the main “monkey” from the arts organization 36 Monkeys; and Veselin Dimov, director of the multimedia performance Momo, among others. Ida shows up a bit late, looking mentally stuck at the office. The evening continues with documentary cinema, then the band Ambient Anarchist takes the stage. Between songs people come up and read excerpts from Daniil Kharms. Ida reads, too. It feels cozy, like a big house party. “Nice scene”, I venture. “Very”, Ida says with conviction. “Kudos to Veselin, he came up with the idea for tonight”. She believes that the Youth Theater format makes it clear that what’s onstage has not been created by the theater itself. “Everyone knows it’s a guest night and how it was done – which is a huge achievement.” a night at her place
Our conversation continues one evening at Ida and her husband Todor’s colorful apartment. We discuss the cliché that if you’re not a part of an official theater troupe, you’re not considered a true professional. We also discuss the painful lack of cultural managers to write and
implement projects. And the weird, unequal relationship between independent projects and the state-funded stages that host them. And the disdain of theater management, which often results in box-office sabotage, as independent projects are not properly advertised. And the fact that despite all the effort, time and desire, an independent show is played once, twice or three times and then disappears, even if it is a hit. Does the problem lie within the system or the older generation in the institutions? “Both”, she replies confidently. “One couldn’t exist without the other. I don’t have a problem with age, but with lack of motivation. And the worst part is that right now nobody knows what will happen to state-funded theaters or what our theater system is going to be at all.” If it were up to you, what would the ideal system look like? I count on my fingers: one, there should be programs to apply for financing; two, you should be able to choose any actor; three, the audience should have some minimum aesthetic education. Ida nods. That’s not asking too much, I say. No, it’s not, she replies.