Romanians have relived the horrors of communism in a play featuring Lenin and Stalin, set to patriotic songs of that era, played by actors who mime their roles.
But as spectators watched the hour-long performance in a Bucharest park, it was also a reminder for some that not everything was bad under communism, which ended in a bloody revolt in 1989.
"Lenin's Arc" is a visual feast of non-speaking actors dressed in uniforms, waving hammers, sickles and red flags — their faces and clothes daubed with copper, green and brown paint. The play opened on May 2 and its first three performances have been staged in Bucharest parks. It will continue to be performed in parks across Romania during the summer.
The play's director said the show highlighted the harshness of communism, but Romanians would also remember some positive aspects of communism.
"In those days everyone had a job. In those days we had industry. Now we have none. In those days we had agriculture. Now we have none," Mihai Malaimare told The Associated Press. "We had dignity. Now we are the slaves of Europe."
He said Romania had sacrificed its "dignity" because "we wanted to be part of Europe, NATO." Romania joined NATO in 2004 and became a member of the European Union in 2007.
His comments were partly echoed by police officer Constantin Cojocariu, 53.
"Some things are good now, but getting a job can be a big problem," Cojocariu said. "My son is out of work and all the work contracts are short now."
Cosmin Cretu, 48, who played the main role of Lenin, however, was critical of the communist era, recalling the cold, hunger and fear which predominated as Romania struggled under Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu's policy to pay off the foreign debt.
Cojocariu, who watched the play with his wife, noted Romanians were freer than under communism, when the Securitate secret police kept tabs on ordinary people to repress political dissent.
"Before, all the phones were listened to," Cojocariu said. "Now only the trees hear you."
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Text from the AP news story, Romania play reminds people of the good, bad of communism.
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Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in Brooklyn, New York. A California native, Castañeda works primarily in video and collage, with an emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials remaining an important aspect of all her projects. Common issues in Castañeda’s work are the conflating of iconography and pornography, the questioning of traditional gender binaries, and the role of technology within personal narratives. She received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In addition to her art practice, Castañeda currently works at The Associated Press where she leads a team that curates AP's online archive of historic and contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s photography has appeared in the New York Times,U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.