Part of project “Talented People”
I do not remember when I met Diana. In my mind I have always known her. When we were at the beginning of our careers, crazy and under 25, we used to go to parties and entertaining evenings. Not often, but we did it. And always the same thing happened. We drank and became inseparable in silliness and fun. This always annoyed the others. They were bothering us, but we did not care for anyone. We did not care that we were annoying them. We were just of a mind, and we were fitting well in everything. She is way crazier than me, but we both liked to laugh together. She was only an actress then.
Years later, Diana staged her first production, “Medea”, in which she played Medea herself. I watched it and I was very impressed. I have always known she was very talented, but when you see the talent in a finished cultural product, you get a clear confirmation of it. The production was magical, extreme, opening another unseen world – Diana’s world in her head. You move to another space, time does not matter, and you get teleported somewhere for an hour and a half and then you get back to reality again. I was happy for her. What I also saw in “Medea” was the great energy and power concentrated in Diana, which was yet to be realised in a complex, creative directorial way. And it happened so. Then she staged “Macbeth” in Smolyan. And then she invited me in “Casanova”. I gave up everything and started rehearsals with my friend Diana. It was great. Whatever she wanted from me, I did it without thinking, without questioning it. I trusted her implicitly. She had huge, great ideas, of which, unfortunately, a small part got realised. The reality of the Bulgarian theatre robs Diana. She has an imagination for which there is no equipment, lighting, and people to help turn fantasy into reality. During “Casanova” her mother passed away in her arms. It was a very dark period for her. “Casanova” was a requiem for love, such was the subtitle of the play as well. The production had a mystical character – Golden Lady. The metaphor of love, goodness, mother, protection, life, air and water. A creature that sends life and welcomes it under golden rain. One of the emblematic moments of the Golden Lady was at the end of the production, when Diana and her brother were reading a beautiful text about love while the old Casanova was leaving. She did not tell me, but it was her “farewell” to her mother. Diana is a strong person, she would not cry in front of people, she hates to show her sadness. She is always brave, though her whole soul is crying inside. She expresses her sorrow through the theatre and the productions.
I write this text also because I want to admit some things publicly. And to apologize to her. After the production’s premiere, as always happens, everyone is watching and discussing. I got into such a discussion and it shook me. The people did not like “Casanova”. I wondered if we really made a good production. I stayed in this dilemma for a long time. Diana sensed it and she asked me once. I did not admit it. In my defence, it was a time when I was still interested in the opinion of the others. It is normal for you as a young actor to care about it. Now I am at another stage. I do not care what people say, only important is if I like the project and if it develops me, pushes me forward. But at that time it shook me.
Shortly after this incident, there were selectionists from Avignon Festival. They liked the production very much, and after a month we were invited to perform in France – 25 shows in the summer of 2010. We left, we performed, we fought. Together. 1500 different productions from around the world are presented at the theatre festival. Crushing competition. It is very difficult the audience to notice you in such a grinder. We started the first performance with an audience of about 50 people in a hall of 400 seats. This did not lose our motivation, quite on the contrary. We settled for a difficult and hard work because we wanted to establish ourselves. Every night we performed like a matter of life and death. In the day we handed out flyers, and in the evening we performed on stage. With every passing day the audience was getting bigger, and people often stopped us on the streets of this little town and told us they were impressed with our production. That motivated us even more. On the 15th performance the hall was full. The production was in the top 3 (out of all 1500) of the critics, and then we were stars. Everyone was talking about “Casanova”. After Avignon, I loved “Casanova” forever. I believed in it and I would never stop believing that we did something good. Such memory remains in the mind for long. We returned many times with tours all over France.
After these tours another phase of our relationship followed, which I wish will never repeat. We got invited to perform in Paris, again for a marathon of about 20 performances. Diana called me maybe six months in advance, I accepted, though I was slightly afraid that in half a year everything could change in my schedule. And so it did. I have always had a lot of work and everything has been very dynamic. But sometimes it faces you with decisions and choices that always make you hurt someone. I got invited to shoot in the “Tree of Life” series. Initially, things arranged perfectly. I would finish my work on the series and would leave for Paris. But things slowed down for a month and a half because of the large set. I had shot six episodes and it was time to leave for Paris. The choice was “either-or”: my character in the series to be killed and not to finish shooting the next six episodes or to not go to Paris. The preparation for the visit to the capital of France was huge on Diana’s side – posters, advertising, funds, accommodations… I could not screw up Diana but at the same time I could not refuse shooting in the series, because I was a major lead character and a close friend of mine was producing it – Evtim Miloshev. A draw situation that in any way would make me break a relationship with a close person. After sleepless nights and thinking over, I found a middle solution. Evtim would let me off the series for a week, during that time I would perform in the first 6 important shows while Diana would get a new guy for my role. This would be a real horror for her, for the other actors and for the French producers. For me too. That is how it happened. It was terribly unpleasant, I felt guilty, and in fact, it was fate’s fault. This is very common for people in our profession. You are always between many projects, you are moving on the edge of your schedule and doing impossible things to set everything up and everyone to be happy. You manage, but not every time. I do not want to talk about how Diana rehearsed with another actor, and what that cost her. This situation brought a great tension between us. But “Tree of Life” was a very important project for me. Very. There was no way for me to not finish it. The tension with Diana burst out in a telephone conversation after they got back from Paris. I did this talk on the main street in Burgas. I will never forget this place. This year, I even passed by that spot by accident, I felt black clouds over me and quickly left. The scandal was about contract, fees, lost profits, and such nonsense. I really do not remember what exactly we were screaming about at each other. Simply from her point of view I had no right to face her with this ordeal. And she was right. Just things in life do not always turn out well. Life always faces us with problems from which we either learn or not, we either draw experience from them or not. Diana and I fell out for a long time. I have never been angry with her, but she was with me – I suppose. I hoped time would pass and it – the time – would erase these dark events and our friendship is stronger than the difficulties. She continued to develop as a director and she made a number of productions. I have secretly watched them. All of them, except the Macedonian one – I could not watch it.
From time to time we met here and there, I initiated talking to her, and once in front of the theatre we hugged. It seemed we had forgiven each other. Now I realise that she is close to me. When I see her, I feel nice and I can talk with her for hours. She likes me as a person and as an actor, and I like her as a person, as an actress and as a director. Last year she invited me for a big role, but the situation was a bit like the story mentioned above. I had to shoot a series I already accepted, again with Evtim Miloshev, and had to combine the two projects. She had delayed choosing a play and the time was ahead. We tried to adjust things, but then we both gave up so we could avoid the problems from the past. But everything is ahead of us.
Lately I see less and less people who are self-motivated and pursue the new by themselves, without waiting to be invited. In the actors’ circles, most people are used to waiting. Few people take life in their own hands. Diana is one of them. She does not wait, she does not give up on difficulties, she does not despair. With the tour of “Casanova” in Avignon and Paris, she went through things that I experienced much later. Accounting, organisation, advertising, logistics, management, etc. To go there and present ourselves well required a tremendous pre-preparation by her. T-shirts, posters, hotels, transport. Yes, we are people of the art and maybe we should not have to deal with such things. What to do when it is like that in Bulgaria? Should we wait? I think these new and different activities develop us and make us raise our own level. In this irreconcilability we are very much alike.
Diana is a bright talent. She makes her own theatre, with her unique signature. Her performances are recognizable and an alternative to everything done in Bulgaria. She gets criticism which does not stop her, on the contrary. She also has many sworn fans. When I go to see her production, I am thrilled to see what new she has invented. Very few of her things I do not like, but it is not possible to like everything. What impresses me stays in my mind long. And in what I do not like so much, I see her quest and development. I feel she has fought and has succeeded. This is a very interesting path of hers I recommend you follow. That is if she stays in Bulgaria. I think very soon she will have her break on the stages abroad. And there, she will really be able to realise and materialise with the means of the theatre all the strange worlds that her imagination invents. There she will want a dragon to pass into a beam of light and they will be able to provide it to her. There it will be easy for her and she will fly. Where is this there? In the countries with annual state budget for culture higher than 0.75%. I wish Diana to go there and to create. I will take the plane with the money earned from the series and I will watch from the first row.
One of the big French newspapers wished to take a big interview with Diana and me. This photo is from that interview. This is one of those small battles you forget, but when you remember them, you feel somehow better and motivated.
P.S. These days I watched “The Father”, Diana’s latest production at the National Theatre. I loved it. Again I saw something different. There is no other such quiet and impressive production in Bulgaria. She has again found something new, and I saw again that she is developing. Watch it, it is a must.
Text – Vladimir Karamazov
Photographer – Vladimir Karamazov for #Karamazovfoto
06.12.2018 Vladimir Karamazov ®