Theatre and its Alexander the Great
“Alexander the Great of Theatre” – director Alexander Morfov would probably be annoyed by such a statement, as he doesn’t like superlatives making a reference to him. He only allows them for his spectacles. However, we’re taking the risk of infuriating him, because we’re part of the audience, and he’d forgive anything to it. Moreover, Morfov is effectively not deprived of greatness. He’s the person who brought Bulgarians back to the theatres after the abominable crisis in this country in the early 1990s with spectacles such as “The Tempest”, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, or “Don Quixote”. Once he occupied our hearts, he flew out to the immeasurable soul of Russia and conquered it. For some time, he was the artistic director in chief of St. Petersburg’s “Vera Komissarzhevskaya” theatre, and worked also with the “Lenkom” and “Et Cetera” muscovite theatres. Accordingly, his prize collection was enriched with sculptures such as a “Golden Mask”, a “Golden Soffit”, a crystal “Turandot” – for spectacles such as “Don Juan” after Moliere and “Eclipse” after Ken Kesey’s novel “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”. Russian audiences saw also his “The Lion in Winter”, “Baal”, and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Generally, there was a period in time when we were reading about Morfov’s spectacles and awards in Russia rather than seeing his new stagings in Bulgaria. Luckily for us, the situation changed. The director staged “Don Juan” at the National Theatre in Sofia. Now, we’re awaiting the premiere of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
“The play is about that that
the whole world has turned actually into a madhouse,
in which the parts are cast very precisely. There are the strong ones who eat the weak in order to get even stronger. Every given system – the former, the communist one, as much as this, the financial one, dictatorships, totalitarian systems, they are indeed busy doing just that – manipulating people. And the characters in the ‘Flew’, that’s us – whatever we are currently,” explains the director.
As a top director, he too is king of manipulations, but the “gain” he gets from them is not measured in Phoenician tokens but by the catharsis that the souls are experiencing after a performance. “Theatre exists because of the audience. There is something sacred in it. I think that the church cannot re-educate anyone either, but when you step inside and pray, you can get closer to God. I wish the spectators felt like that when they step into the theatre’s hall,” confesses the director in one of his rare interviews. We have to admit that he gets there. Because he’s not only a conqueror of new audiences; Morfov is like Don Quixote –
he’s dreaming about thinks long lost such as honour and nobleness.
A free person who’s trying to heal the society with stagings, films, words… He’s not afraid of throwing rocks in the yards of power brokers, regardless of what this might cost him. Three years ago, he hurled a truth at then-Minister of Culture Stefan Danailov. He did it stunningly – from the Army Theatre’s stage during the ceremony of the “Askeer” Awards. “You’re killing the Bulgarian spirit! You’re locking it up in dead ends. Theatre is bringing to tens of thousands of spectators messages, soul, guidance. Our actors are receiving 300 leva wages while bus drivers fought out 800,” shouted Morfov. The fire that his words ignited lasted three days and faded away. The only side effect was that the production of his film “Hashove” was somewhat delayed. Nonetheless, it too became a cultural fact in Bulgaria, as much as the production of the same name at the National Theatre.
“Why should I stay mum? What do I have to fear? What could they take away from me? Yes, people are frightened, because they are too linked in their business, in their obscure dealings. They dare not opening their mouths, because they’d immediately get sanctioned by those who give them their money. Some time ago, I was reprimanded, because I opposed a shady affair – some people wanted to take over the National Theatre, to sell it out. Yet who could ban me from being myself? If my spectacle is shut down, I’d just go to another place to make my productions. And while speaking of freedom, I can say that I’m free in Bulgaria and in Russia as well, because I don’t belong to absolutely none of the small business groups,” says Morfov.
On the Small Island
Reny Vrangova – the director’s muse
The family is the wharf where Morfov’s rebel spirit gets tamed down. This is Reny Vrangova’s merit – the director’s muse both on stage and in life. On January 2, 2011, they’ll celebrate the 22nd anniversary of exchanging rings under the sounds of Mendelssohn.
The spark between them dates from the Theatre School. Witnesses of the student love pair were their friends Teddy Moskov and Maya Novosselska – another example of a good family between a director and an actress. Excepted these magnificent four, nobody else attended the wedding. Obviously, it was under good auspice, since Reny’s and Alexandre’s love is still burning today with a student flame. Vrangova bestowed the director with two daughters – Neda and Sarah.
The apex of the rehearsals for “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” coincided with the director’s 50th birthday, on November 9. Morfov didn’t throw a noisy party for his half-a-century jubilee; as always, he spent the celebration with his family. “A day like any other, just slightly more depressing,” commented he for the media.
Born in Yambol in 1960
Worked as a backstage worker and light assistant at the theatre in Sliven
Studied for two years at the Technical University in Varna
Graduated Puppet Theatre Directing and Cinema Directing at the National Academy of Film and Theatre Studies in 1990.