Seasons Archive

Old Clown Wanted

by Matei Visniec

Old Clown Wanted

by Matei Visniec

Ion Caramitru
Assistant Director:
Patricia Katona
Florilena Popescu Fărcăşanu
Liliana Cenean
Costumes Assistant:
Maria Dore
Light design:
Chris Jaeger
Florin Fieroiu
Călin Țopa
Dolls creator:
Ioana Creangă
Scene director:
Viorel Florea

Premiere: 08.01.2017

Last performance: 02.02.2020

Duration: 2 h 15 min / Pause: Yes


50 lei

40 lei

20 lei (reducere pentru elevi, studenți și pensionari)

Old Clown Wanted, by Matei Visniec, new premiere at NTB, in the Studio Hall, directed and conceived for the stage by Ion Caramitru, shall bring on stage (but also in the hall and foyer) the display of the impossible, the encounter with absolute illusion and the mirage of boundless freedom. Everything, in an enactment filled with humour, delicacy, tender cynicism, soulful stunts, in which theatre and circus are intertwined on the common realm of the spectacular.

Three old clowns, Nicollo, Filippo and Peppino, meet in front of a hiring notice, ready to give their best for the last trick, the supreme frolic over which the last curtain may fall. The body is playing tricks on them, but the mind is vibrating, hypnotising, and the remembrance of past glory turns the whole world into an extravaganza, into a miraculous manège, a surrealist scenery.

The audience is an amused accomplice in this adventure, a game of life and death in which nothing is what it seems to be, and the theatre hall transforms itself, unknowingly, into a circus ring, where you can find fantastic characters, but also your own stray dreams.

Old Clown Wanted gives the spectators the occasion to re-encounter three very gifted young actors of NTB: Petre Ancuta, Emilian Marnea and Florin Calbajos, whom you could discover in the concert-show ActOrchestra (directed by Horia Suru), but also in Magic Naţional (where they performed also under the coordination of Ion Caramitru). This time, they shall be the illusionist-artists, expressive and surprising, combining music, pantomime, magic and charming performance in order to build characters at the threshold between reality and fantasy.

The play Old Clown Wanted is the last written by playwright Matei Vişniec before leaving Romania, and in 1991 it received the UNITER Award for best Romanian play.


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

Filippo: Petre Ancuța Nicollo: Emilian Mârnea
Peppino: Florin Călbăjos   Magicianul Antonio
Vanda Rotaru
Constantin Rotaru
Clovnul Cristiano
Miss & Eliz
Bogdan Andreescu
Camelia Lazăr
Valentin Iancu
Mariana Ionescu
Cristian Enoiu
Alyssa Andreescu
Aysha Ibeido
Gamze Saldiz
Julia Petreanu
Marius Gagiu
Robert Stan
Robert Stan Jr.
Tiberiu Eftimie
Clara Toplicianu
Lorena Sanda
Viorel Florea
Aurelian Ungureanu

"Through the presence of the three young actors Emilian Mârnea, Petre Ancuţa and Florin Călbăjos, adorable in the roles of the old clowns, conquering through genuineness and comic inventiveness, the show debuts in a joyful atmosphere, only sometimes sad, according to the redempting philosophy of laughter as crying. The playful conceit, the candid overestimation, emphases and the professional trials which they simulate puckishly are just as many occasions for the three to prove their mastery in the art of gag, of improvisation and the tragicomic game on the edge, with a well controlled presence of mind in the transition from one state to another. Against the background of a special native endowment with multiple skills from scenic intelligence to humour and furthermore musicality, mindful that the three form an exceptional instrumental and vocal trio, they attract sympathy from the start, whereas their authentic performance, the territorial playfulness assigned to the difficult characters they must enact, bring them a categorical success which shall mean enormously in their future career.

Doina Papp, Adevărul Blog – The Joyful Sadness of the Tumbler  

"Petre Ancuţa, Emilian Mârnea and Florin Călbăjos prove that they can transform – under the lens of the director’s sensibility – the spectacle of death into a bitter clownery.

The tragic guilt of the clowns (Nicollo, Filippo, Peppino) – individuals stemming from the “great anonyms”, interchangeable, thus anti-heroes, related to Kafka’s characters (Joseph K.), Dürrenmatt (Alfredo Traps) or Ionesco (Béranger) – is nothing else than the ontological one. Descended, seemingly, from Fellini’s movie, the three clowns are equally “everybody”, but also “nobody” - “Anyone can be Peppino. There are thousands of Peppinos. Everyone can be Peppino.” The topic of the current enactment is that of the mortifying stagnation, of the suspension in inactivity, in waiting – understood as a fundamental existential attitude, both alienating and salvaging, as well as of the vicinity with death.

Of a special aestheticism, Old Clown Wanted awakens, moves, incites and encourages meditation.

Mădălina Dumitrache, Web cultura – Counterpoint under the Spotlight 

„Old Clown Wanted” at NTB is a bet. It is an ambitious concept. The collaboration with the Globus Circus and the oversized scale of a play with three characters is impressive, to say the least. The sparks like sequins of these effectual artifices play their part well in the show.

Alina Epingeac, Yorick - „Old Clown Wanted”. The Circus on Stage and the Stage in the Arena  

"Two acts in two different spaces. Two worlds in which three lives struggle to accept their existence. And in order to succeed to lead their lives where no one can consciously arrive.

The three clowns – epic (Petre Ancuţa, Florin Călbăjos, Emilian Mârnea) draw conclusions throughout the entire „employment” regarding the significance of the acting art – how acting imposes a rigour on oneself, a mental and physical flexibility, a tolerance for the relationships which are born with regard to the audience, but also with one’s own body and mind.

Fellini, your clowns have changed for the better. And Mister Vişniec is partly to blame. As for Mr. Caramitru, he bears the rest of the guilt. As for us, the viewers, we can declare ourselves already hired. Because we are all clowns on whom very little is said, but wanted by life, at its right or left, as appropriate".

Dragoş N. Savu, Dilema Veche - Fellini, Your Clowns Have Changed  

"The enactment has, above all, a construction dynamics, in the sense that it is structured into three parts (the pause representing actually a mini-circus show). Practically, the show is continuous, and the public is invited and borne to the fascinating world of the circus – from the arena, but also behind its curtains.

... in the last part, we are joining the three candidates in the arena, for the practical part. And here, Ion Caramitru outdoes himself.

...the director creates a magical realm in which candour and nostalgia reign, a world between the dreamlike and the burlesque, fascination and stage fright, thriller and metaphysical shiver. In this spacious arena of life and death, corporality becomes hieratic, the masks drop for a moment, heads turn toward the past, the childhood becomes the most dangerous game, whose consequences are pushed up to the end, where there are no more winners, everything is crystalline and cold. It is the aisle through which – due to our carelessness – death pervades. Yes, her, Death – the most accomplished coup.

The moment in which spectators pass from one to another the giant balls thrown by the clowns from the stage and the entire hall becomes an arena where all of us are clowns and acrobats and tamers, represents the most moving demonstration of “involuntary” theatre we have ever experienced. A gesture loaded with meaning and artistic generosity, an incredibly subtle, discrete and deliberately delicate directorial act. It is the moment when no spectator finds himself by chance in the hall. You are there because you want to be, to act, to play, in the hall, in the arena, on the stage, in life.

Old Clown Wanted is a show washing your soul and telling a lot about the force of our frailness, about the seductive burden of innocence which we cannot renounce like Atlas could not shed the celestial sphere thrown onto his shoulders. ".

Răzvana Niţă, Revista Teatrală Radio – What Hurts When We Shake with Laughter  

"Ion Caramitru creates a fascinating show on a new text version. He attempts and fully succeeds to configure the theme of the play as a tribute to the clown artist, a “total artist”.

The attractive and functional scenery by Florilena Popescu Fărcășanu defines each of the acting spaces. The image of the show also gains in glamour through the costumes of the clowns, created by Liliana Cenean with fantasy, minuteness up to the detail of the buttons or the special shoes. These are costumes “talking” and colouring the retort or the situations depicted by the clowns, also complemented by an inspired make-up. A major role for the spectacularity of the image is played by Chris Jaeger, the handler of lights like a true visual artist. Florin Fieroiu surprises through an original choreography, modern in expression and specific for the allure of the clowns.

This theatrical packaging is turned to profit by the three wonderful actors, Petre Ancuța, Emilian Mârnea and Florin Călbăjos, in the typologically differentiated roles of the clowns. (...) They prove to be those rarely encountered “total actors”. They sing vocally, but also play different instruments, dance, do pantomime, but can also perform comic or dramatic parts, with an immaculate interior construction. Director Ion Caramitru, who is also a great actor, knew how to highlight the multifaceted skills, each one’s talent to define the portrait of each clown differently.

“Old Clown Wanted” is anchored in the scarce series of sensational shows, where mature spectators recollect the joys of childhood, and the children who may escort them are amazed by the magic of clowns and the art of the circus artist. This show is also sensational in order to know and retain the names of some total artists, but also to discover the surprise of technical and modern possibilities held by the National Theatre of Bucharest, highlighted with inventiveness by director Ion Caramitru and his team".

Ileana Lucaciu, Spectator – Fascinating Encounter with the Artists ...of Childhood   

"The director and the three actors capture perfectly the complicated relationship, both tender and fake and competitive between the clowns, nuanced exemplarily by Petre, Emilian and Florin, who capture its comic and tragic side alike".

Mircea Morariu, AdevarulNTB Premieres 

"I recall a show, not so old, with Old Clown Wanted by Matei Visniec, where Ion Caramitru, in his capacity as director, introduces into theatre circus numbers long applauded by the audience always eager to see new things and, if possible, surprising ones. The story, actually tragic, from the play of the poet, novelist, playwright Matei Visniec, thus gains new valences, becoming somehow closer to contemporary world, where the tragic is often disguised in bouffe comedy, in order to end up in the oblivion of the triggering event".

Nicolae Prelipceanu, Viața Romaneasca - Relâche 

"Ion Caramitru imagines a game-show, but also a ceremony, in which the heroes’ inward gaze is oriented towards us as well. He does this with ingenuity, grace and subtlety. Our path together with the three clowns from the Studio Hall to the foyer and then, again, to the Studio Hall - miraculously transformed into an arena - is the path from dream to nightmare, from illusion to disillusionment.

Ion Caramitru's poetic and pathetic enactment has stylistic charm. An explosion of lights, colours, shapes, sounds that fascinate the audience.

The expanding stage set of stage designer Florilena Popescu Farcasanu confers spectacularity to the enactment. Remarkably to this effect contribute the costumes made with plastic sophistication by Liliana Cenean, characteristic for the characters, generating emotion.

In this generous setting, the musical clowns PetreAncuta (Filippo), Emilian Marnea (Niccolo), Florin Calbajos (Peppino) utter the lines with aplomb, play different instruments, dance. Under the creative wand of Ion Caramitru, charismatic hosts, masked or unmasked, they express an infinity of states, from love to pain, jealousy, anguish, cruelty. In their ludicrous and musical bursts, we recover the art of sublime clowns: Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Marx Brothers ... "

Ludmila Patlanjoglu, DC News - Top Performance at NTB: The Great Buffoon Caramitru and The Clowns of Matei Visniec  

"The performance at the National Theatre is the engagement of Ion Caramitru or why we always need to laugh and live when we do not die.

Visniec’s play is very good and self-sustainable. I have read it especially before making some impressions of the show, exceptionally, I hurry to say it, from the National Theatre. The first act belongs to Vişniec, the second to Ion Caramitru. Even if the entire show is directed by an actor-director Jack-of-all-trades, if he is also general manager at NTB, his special contribution to the show is the circus. The circus as an art in itself, framed by Visniec, and the three clowns masterfully performed by three young people recently placed on NTB's payroll (Petre Ancuta, Emilian Marnea, Florin Calbajos), the circus of life emphasized by the ethereal spectacle ...

Everything comes and goes, both glory and clowns, both the authors and the memory of the people, only the theatre remains. Basically, we have a complete show, where Ion Caramitru's imagination gave free rein to a text with manifold possibilities of interpretation. A show that shall make many performances, we are persuaded thereof. A vivid and fresh show, well-articulated scenically."

Bedros Horasangian, Adevarul - Blog – The moral in “Old Clown Wanted”   

"For the first time after seeing a play, I give up the review and leave you with all the joy of watching the show, to which I urge you to go without telling it. All I can say is that it is a show that takes advantage of the functionality of the Studio Hall, transformed in the last part into a circus arena, even the foyer, which during the pause becomes the scene of real circus numbers. I add the costumes of Liliana Cenean, Florin Fieroiu's choreography and Chris Jaeger's light games - these, along with the whole enactment team, carry us into a wonderful world, and Theatre itself, under a dome where one laughs and cries at the same time.

I have a comforting feeling every time I get to NTB. (...)

At NTB, theatre has returned home. And home is a place even for clowns, acrobats, dwarves, puppy dressage, hula-hoop dancing and many others that make up "Old Clown Wanted", a universal reference show, directed minutely and admirably performed."   

Horia Ghibutiu, Journalist Blog – Old Clown Wanted, under the NTB dome    

"It is not nice to give away the end from the beginning, but I cannot help myself: this show has surpassed my boldest expectations. What seemed to be a good but tributary of classical performance at first began to grow up and exploded into a lush, breathtaking extravaganza. I'm not going to ruin the surprise, revealing how and why it's worth adventure!"

Gabriela Hurezean, Muzesiarme – Old Clown Wanted - about the melancholy of the cap with bells   

"On the stage of the Bucharest National, the performance conceived by director Ion Caramitru goes beyond the scope and effect of a random surprise, because it simply brings circus into theatre and at the same time it uplifts theatre through the unmistakable ingenuity and royal humbleness of the circus clowns, all now moving a contagious emotion into the room and well-founded admiration. The Theatre and the Circus face to face, seemingly looking into the mirror and electrifying these ineffable moments of respect and mutual appreciation."

Ion Parhon, Romanian Writing, p.22Premiere in Mid-Season   

"If this piece was enacted by Lucian Pintilie or Tocilescu, it would have played in the lion's cage, with all the hazards. More cautiously, but fanciful, original and almost achieving a managerial, directorial masterpiece, Ion Caramitru brings the Bucharest Circus (widowed by the lions who were collectively incendiary burned) to the National Theatre.

Caramitru holds the art of all art related to the stage. The wretches survive from the small pension and the big nostalgia. The comic is gnarled, the tragic is obvious. The sensational staging blends dramatic theatre, the Italian stage with circus art at home.

(...) The shock is formidable! You do not know where you are, at the theatre or the circus. You are at both institutions at the same time! It's the great finder. The play continues at gallop pace, circus and theatre actors make osmosis. Never seen! The lights project fabulously, scholarly, the heavenly vault with moving stars, falling over the spectators rejoicing like the children at the circus. Balloons float in the air, volleyball is being played and exactly what I was thinking at that moment is happening. There is an air draft of small soap bubbles that break - our ephemeral existence ... "

Dinu Grigorescu, The Morning Star, April 2017 - A Thundering Show     


Presented within the UNITER Campaign Artists for Artists, March 2017

Selected within the National Theatre Festival– 27th edition, October 2017


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

Your browser is not up to date

Please upgrade to one of the following browsers in order to enter NTB website

Thank you for understanding! Google ChromeVersion 7+ FirefoxVersion 4+ Internet ExplorerVersion 8+ OperaVersion 4+ SafariVersion 5+
I agree

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to its use of cookies. Details

TNB I. L. Caragiale Logo