Current Repertory

Rehearsal for a better world

dramatization by Mihai Radu and Ionuț Sociu after the novel bearing the same name by Mihai Radu

Rehearsal for a better world

dramatization by Mihai Radu and Ionuț Sociu after the novel bearing the same name by Mihai Radu

Radu Afrim
Sound universe:
Radu Afrim
Irina Moscu
Video Mapping:
Andrei Cozlac
Flavia Giurgiu
Lighting design:
Cristian Șimon
Assistant Director:
Mădălina Ciupitu
Assistant Scenography:
Mădălina Sandu
Lighting design assistant:
Miruna Croitoru
Technical Director:
Adrian Ionescu

Premiere: 18.03.2023

Duration: 2 h 50 min / Pause: No

13 Mar 2024 19:00
14 Mar 2024 19:00

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"Life as a playground"

A son brings his dying father home from the nursing home. His ex-wife asks him to rescue her puppy taken hostage by her current boyfriend, and over all of this the shadow of a secret from years ago.

I think it's a performance about many separations: the separation between husbands and lovers, between parents and children, between one generation and another, separation from the past, from hopes, and, why not, a separation from the future itself. All this with an overdose of humor.

Sitting at the table with Radu Afrim and the actors, each of us grabbing dialogues, descriptions, monologues from the novel... trying them on as if you were trying on clothes in a boutique, I lived this fantastic experience: to see how your words turn into gestures, looks, laughter, tears. You feel somehow like a deity, but a deity who pisses himself in fear: "Fuck, what if the world doesn't turn out the way I want it to?"

One could imagine the experience of this show as a playground where there is death, sexuality, the nostalgia of adolescence and youth, hopes... a play that is sometimes candid and naive, sometimes cruel, frightening." Mihai Radu

A well-known satire journalist (his collaborations with the weekly newspaper "Cațavencii" and the TV show "Starea nației" (State of the nation) are well known), in his novels, Mihai Radu remains the same professional of sarcasm and lucidity that we find in his press articles.

His latest novel, "Rehearsal for a better world", published by Polirom in 2022, is the novel of a crisis. A generalized crisis, a Matryoshka of crises, as the author declared in an interview, which are felt on a moral, political, ecological and civilizational level. A story about an ordinary Romanian family, set in today's Bucharest, but so defining for the entire Western civilization of the moment. At the heart of this story, Paul, the protagonist, is a middle-aged, cynical, disillusioned man with no significant social connections, whose father's imminent passing does not seem to cause him much sadness.

The attraction that "Rehearsal for a better world" exerts on the readers is the radical minimalist, naked and uncomfortable portrait that Mihai Radu makes of the current society, the critical reflection he offers on the destiny of humanity, represented by the feeling of loneliness and confusion of contemporary man. A satire that abounds in black humor and sarcasm, a story about each of us.

Translated by Andreea Codrea-Boeriu 


Foto Florin Ghioca

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Ion Caramitru Hall 19:00 Buy tickets
Ion Caramitru Hall 19:00 Buy tickets
Paul Negrescu: Marius Manole Mircea Negrescu, Paul’s father: Marius Bodochi
Mădălina, Paul`s ex-wife: Mirela Oprișor Dinu “the Flute Player”, Madalina’s current boyfriend: Istvan Teglas
Tamira, Tamira, Mircea Negescu’s care taker : Raluca Aprodu Cordoș, the man who ran away from the nursing home, a friend of Mircea Negescu: Emilian Mârnea
Slavic, Paul’s friend and project partner: Emilian Oprea Gelu, friend with Paul and Slavic: Ciprian Nicula
The Mother / The Mayor of Gostinu: Natalia Călin Carmenuța, the Mayor’s granddaughter / Patricia: Crina Semciuc
Bogdănel, the Mayor’s grandson / The Dog: Ștefan Iancu Mara, Paul’s sister (based in Australia – featuring on video): Irina Movilă
Lavinia (featuring on video): Cătălina Mihai

"Marius Manole's absolutely exceptional character is Paul, a man with an elderly father in a nursing home, whom he has to bring home when the nursing home closes; Paul is divorced and his girl is abroad; he has a half-sister who has long been away in Australia; and he had a mother who died of a heart attack. His families are real: the "older" one, with his parents who were young in communism; and the "newer" one, with his ex-wife Madalina (played very well by Mirela Oprisor) and Lavinia (Catalina Mihai), the girl he forgets to call on her birthday.

… Whether thought up alone or through artistic brainstorming, the characters in Rehearsal for a Better World are performed by the actors and actresses in this performance in a truly extraordinary way. Cordos, the old man who ran away from the asylum (played by Emilian Marnea) and who wants the stove promised to him by Paul's father, Mara, Paul's sister in Australia who appears on video, probably for no more than a minute (Irina Movila's role is amazing), and finally, the very complex score of Tamira, the young hospice nurse who comes to care for the dying father at home (memorably played by Raluca Aprodu) - three extremely difficult parts in which the actor and the two actresses bring their own performance to art. The sexualized dance of the "good" young Tamira, when she sees herself alone with the dying man she cares for with maternal devotion, is one of the most striking scenes in the show, here the merits are shared between the acting, choreography (Flavia Giurgiu) and sound universe (Radu Afrim). The set design (Irina Moscu) also fully participates in the drama of the show, the Negrescu family home being completely open in front of us so that we can see and hear everything before that twist at the end that I mentioned before.

And if it hasn't already been understood, I'll say it explicitly at the end: Rehearsal for a Better World is one of the most powerful Romanian performances I've seen lately.”

Daniel Cristea-Enache, Liternet - In the family - Rehearsal for a better world  

"To really enjoy this performance, you must take the title as an invitation: to rehearse the experience of the first viewing, to compare each new performance with what you have seen before.

I haven't had that feeling with other performances, but thinking about what happened on the stage of the National Theatre for a few days in a row made me think I'd go again.

In the endless setting you've been exposed to, you risk getting lost in the details, not paying close attention to things that afterwards seem sensational.

That huge stage of the National Theatre somehow managed to share so many fragments of life at the same time that I think this is the thing that impacted me the most.

The lives of the characters are pulled by a string, actually pulled on a string, in wagon-like cutouts, or projected onto a giant screen where the theatre is played outside the theatre (i.e. on the street, between blocks, in the park).

…Long story, short, Rehearsal for a Better World is a show in which you want to get involved with all your senses, and for a spectator these experiences are a challenge worth accepting."

Eliza Ene Corbeanu, Evenimentul Zilei - Raise the curtain! Rehearsal for a better world la Teatrul National Bucuresti  

"Like any self-respecting visionary, Radu Afrim shocks you again, no matter how prepared you feel. With the close help of set designer Irina Moscu, he manages to create a new and incredible poetry of discursive, dramatic and visual contrasts in a sublime theatrical, a performance-vernissage of the latest dramatic pictures that bear his unmistakable signature and that will remain on your soul's retina for a long time, finding their precise place in the colorful halls of the Afrim's museum that you know you already have inside. And you keep trying not to invent a main gallery for him, because his work is in full bloom. Radu Afrim is no longer just a terrible child of Romanian theatre. There are incredible paintings in the rooms of this museum, even in those you haven't visited for a long time, in which all his artistic restlessness and quests are to be found, especially in the Romanian family of the last half-century, now reaching the age of maturity, which allows him to imprint his recognizable and continuously perfect his creative identity on his performances in the smallest details."

Luciana Antofi, Blog - Across the borders of Afrim: „Rehearsal for a better world”. Playing flute and cello  

"The whole staging becomes a disturbing intimate journey, a journey meant to shed light / or not, basically a reflective drama in which death, illness, trauma, sexuality, hopes and longings are brought together on a huge "playground" (excellent stage movement coordinated by Flavia Giurgiu) in a trenchant, raw and uncompromising way. The stage director's talent as a storyteller is undeniable when he plays with time and space to evoke the separation put in a fan: the separation between husbands and lovers, between parents and children, between one generation and another, the separation from the past, from hopes, and even the separation from the future."

Madalina Dumitrache, Bel-esprit – The dramatic ripples of a nuclear family – "Rehearsal for a better world"  

"It's not an easy thing for any theatre director to keep the audience quiet, fascinated by what's happening on stage, for almost three hours without a break. No rustling, no phone lights, no footsteps on the doors of the hall. But that's what happened at the premiere of Rehearsal for a better world, directed by Radu Afrim after Mihai Radu's novel of the same name (dramatized by Mihai Radu and Ionut Sociu). (...)

Radu Afrim succeeds through the staging, through the nuances he introduces, through the alternation of moments of humor and drama to create a real world on stage, a world of a dysfunctional family that has to fight its own demons. I have chosen only a small slice to talk about in this review, the rest of the pieces that make up the world of the show you can discover by experiencing the excitement first hand and learning the story that will unfold before your eyes for three hours. As for the duration, even though the performance has no intermission, you don't even feel the need. I think that in the economy of the performance, a break would have disconnected the audience from the emotion created, an emotion that builds gradually, and it would have been very difficult for them to get back into the atmosphere. I am convinced that Rehearsal for a better world will remain in my soul and in the hearts of all the spectators, because it has the power and the capacity to stir within."

Andrei Bulboaca, Liternet - About the fear of loss - Rehearsal for a better world   

"Like Silviu Purcarete, Afrim has a plastic style all his own, but more modern and unpredictable, i.e. more appropriate to his generation. He also shows a real pleasure in probing the spirit of the times in which he lives rather than running away from it, which is something to be admired and which the audience appreciates at its true value."

Alexandra Ares, Revista Rinocerul - The chronicle of an existential failure 

"An unsettling performance that you take with you and eat it up for a long time, such as it is: with tears and laughter and uncompromising truths. At one point, the dog says to the man, "All your life you'll be collecting shit in a bag." I was walking to NTB when I saw a woman with a small, constipated dog on the sidewalk in front of me, painstakingly swinging a thin wiener to the ground. The woman scooped up the poo with her bare hand and deposited it in the bin. Sometimes life sings the overture of a performance. Theatre people know that shit is the best wish for success. Here Afrim had plenty of it, putting another unforgettable performance in his portfolio.

Gabriela Hurezeanu - Facebook

"It is the (deadly) puzzle of a family, whose pieces are: sexuality, break-up, abuse, failure, the nostalgia of youth, hope and death.

Radu Afrim takes all the pieces and perfectly pieces together the picture, with cynicism and humor, sometimes subtle, sometimes full on, with a lot of professionalism and even a slight hint of tenderness.

Apparently it's a story of failure, but for me it was a story about survival in a world that I lived, thankfully, in a normal family. I watched with great interest and curiosity the story of this family, where the characters "sit hugging but not touching."

Gabriela Ene - Facebook

"What is really interesting in the whole staging is the way Radu Afrim has constructed the identity of each relationship. How he personalized each action of the "guilty man", so that from a point on you realize that he no longer operates with the binomial "guilty - innocent"; things are no longer so clear and unambiguous, especially since the main reason why Paul runs away from his father as much as possible is revealed only at the end. From this point of view, Rehearsal for a better world is a different kind of performance, in other words Radu Afrim surprises and even shocks at times.

A show of diversity and human depth that shifts the focus from finding the culprit to healing, in other words taking the story forward.

...The credibility of the stage discourse derives from a subtle play of quantities: many details, but never too many in the same place or time; many scenic devices, but used effectively and (almost) never overused; many characters, but never feeling crowded.

… A game of metaphor designed to make us think. Who we are, what we do and how we do it. A show of slow transformation in which the spectator gets to take part without realizing it. A rehearsal. For a better world. Our world. Which can be better. Provided we know what we want and how we want this world to look. Peace with the past? Necessary."

Nona Rapotan, Book-Hub - Rehearsal for a better world   

"Last fall, a sunrise found me in the kitchen, weeping over the ending of Mihai Radu's book, Rehearsal for a Better World. Mihai's writing has this gift, to surprise you with its depth, to make you cry after first captivating you, holding you in its grip and serving you full doses of humor and cynicism.

… I wasn't expecting any entertainment from a story about breakups, family secrets, and making peace with the mistakes of others. And I didn't get any. Instead, I got a lot of WOW. Wow for Irina Moscu's absolutely gorgeous set design, for Andrei Cozlac's video mapping, which will haunt me visually for a while, for Flavia Giurgiu's fascinating choreography, whose peak is reached by Raluca Aprodu, crucified in a window frame at the end of a moment I still applaud in my heart, for the melange of music that included the voice of folk singer Domnica Trop (kudos for the on-screen mention, so people don't get shazamed on their phones during the performance), or for the entire cast that completes this combination of talents that makes "Rehearsal for a Better World" one of this year's memorable performances."

Simona Radoi - Facebook

"Rehearsal for a Better World”, the most awaited Romanian theatre performance, which premiered last night in the Main Hall of NTB, does not disappoint: the dramaturgical strength of the staging, a corollary of the artistic, gestural and even phonetic pluriversity imagined by a non-conformist director such as Radu Afrim, transforms the show into the stage event of the month and of the year.

The success crowns the work of a singular director, whose obsession for the visual arts comes out refined, and this time, thanks to the collaboration with the scenographer Irina Moscu. And of a remarkably tight acting team (Marius Manole, István Téglás, Natalia Calin, Raluca Aprodu, etc.) and open-minded, tolerant of "implants" from outside the collective; of an excellent text - it is to Radu Afrim's credit that he read between the lines the dramatic potential of the novel by journalist turned writer Mihai Radu.

The team rehearsals, in fact an elaborate process of genuine research and analysis for this performance, managed to sublimate a narrative with a shocking denouement, constituting the most resounding theatrical coup of any Romanian text staged in recent times. And the fact that the dramatization was made by journalists Mihai Radu and Ionut Sociu brings to the first Romanian stage an accurate, documented, objective, uncompromising "photography" of the realities in society.

…In Rehearsal for a Better World, we once again meet a Marius Manole who is running the show. Marius is the pinnacle of an exceptional generation of actors - not called golden for the simple reason that the days of writing only glowingly about theatre are over. The ease with which he steps into the role and his fertile understanding of the character make Marius Manole different every time. I've seen so many of his performances that I could list many of his graceful roles. But such a subjective listing would serve no one well, so I'll just confine myself to noting that Manole is a national asset. He fills the entire stage by simply standing barefoot with only a cigarette, in the way Chaplin only needed a cop and a tree for a comedy. An artist to the bone, suited to the stage, Manole is unique, because he has nothing left to prove and can then get on with his acting.

… And, in general, there is much good discussion about Rehearsal for a Better World. What remains indisputable is this: the show is an essential dress rehearsal for a better theatre.

Horia Ghibutiu, Zile si Nopti - Rehearsal for a Better Theatre  


Translated by Andreea Codrea-Boeriu 

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