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How important is it to be (un) serious?

On April 2, the premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Oscar Wilde will take place at the Blagoevgrad Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov”.

This is another modern interpretation of a classic work that the audience will be able to see on the stage of the theater. The director of Oscar Wilde’s comedy is Anton Ugrinov, the scenography and costumes are by Vanina Tsandeva, and the music is by Kalin Nikolov. The actors Neno Koinarski, Yordan Angelov, Mariana Boneva, Nedilyana Pavlik, Albena Chobanova, Janet Keranova, Aladin Alibrahim, Kancho Kanev, Teodor Kukov and Tara Dimitrovska and Radoslav Balev (Students at SWU “Neofit Rilski”) are participating.

Three love stories are the basis of the plot of one of the most witty and interesting plays by Oscar Wilde – “How important it is to be serious.” This exquisite dramatic text is in fact a funny and ironic commentary on society and its patterns of living.

A conversation with the director Anton Ugrinov about the contemporary messages of this play, about the eternal questions about life that Oscar Wilde and the theater ask us during a pandemic.

– Mr. Ugrinov, there was another / second / postponement of the premiere of your production “How important it is to be serious” at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad. How does this affect you and your team? – We make every effort to keep fit and highly motivated. It is important after so many months of work to be able to finish what we started in a way that brings satisfaction to both us and the audience. The theater is a live meeting.

The director Anton Ugrinov (Photo: Personal archive)

– The play by Oscar Wilde has been repeatedly presented, played, screened. Why did you decide to address this text, how did it provoke you? Have you wanted to install it for a long time? – The truth is that this is a proposal of the director of the theater Margarita Macheva. She suggested this text, and I liked it. There’s a theme inside that excites me, and Oscar Wilde’s language is almost a touch of perfection.

– How does this farcical satirical comedy about Victorian social norms flow today? What are the questions, though posed at a time when they seemed scandalous, that today’s viewers will ask themselves? – The topic of how we coexist with truth and falsehood, as well as the topic of living in excess. At least for me, these are the big topics that occupied me. What is our ability as human beings to be honest with others and with ourselves, these were the guidelines. We have looked to some extent at the hedonistic urges in man and the lack of sufficiency in every sense.

– What are the central elements that you wanted to take from Wilde’s play, how did you adapt it? Will we see a production that is happening today or one that is universal for the 19th and 21st centuries? – We are not dealing with a specific era. Lack of an era, that’s how I would describe it. And as a scenography and as costumes and as an approach to the whole. It could be 200 years ago, or it could be today. With the artist Vanina Tsandeva we were looking for a similar image that is possible in all eras. I always look at the dramatic texts in Today. Because the other seems to me a lie and an assumption.

The premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Anton Ugrinov will be on April 2 at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad (Photo: “Old Photo”)

– In the end, one of the central ideas of Oscar Wilde is that what is presented to us as “moral” is the exact opposite of sincerity and seriousness, namely disrespectful, false and hypocritical. To what extent do clichés about moral values ​​still exist today in our culture and society? – I have the feeling that we all live in a world that finds it difficult to distinguish truth from simulation. Packaging in all its manifestations often turns out to be more convertible than the contents. This is something that does not make me happy, but obviously this is how the world works and it must be like that, I don’t know. For me, morality is a lack of chaos. Lack of morality is chaos.

The premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Anton Ugrinov will be on April 2 at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad (Photo: “Old Photo”)

– Tell us more about the scenographic solutions in the production and the team you work with? – Vanina Tsandeva is an artist. A young and talented girl I work with not for the first time. I met her professionally while she was still a student. I have appreciated her since then, and I already feel close to her. She has many qualities, and the work for this production is at an extremely high level in my opinion. It is important for me that the people on the team feel good so that we can develop our ideas. The composer is Kalin Nikolov, who needs no introduction. One of the most serious and talented contemporary composers.

The premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Anton Ugrinov will be on April 2 at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad (Photo: “Old Photo”)

How important is it to (not) be serious? – As Oscar Wilde puts it, “There has to be at least one thing we need to take seriously in our lives.” Otherwise, for many other things, a slight distance from what is happening and a sense of humor also seem mandatory to me.

The premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Anton Ugrinov will be on April 2 at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad (Photo: “Old Photo”)

The premiere of “How important it is to be serious” by Anton Ugrinov will be on April 2 at the Drama Theater “Nikola Vaptsarov” – Blagoevgrad (Photo: “Old Photo”)

– Are you working on other plays at the moment, for other scenes in Bulgaria? How does the strange situation affect the work of a director and his projects, desires, ideas, team?– I’m starting work on a new French play. This is a text by Florian Zeller, which I will do (if the situation allows) in the Satirical Theater. There I made my debut as a director many years ago and I have a special feeling for this theater. Otherwise, the pandemic situation in which we all find ourselves is difficult for everyone.

The important thing is not to lose our sense of meaning, and I think art and theater help with that. At least they help me.

Interview with Julia VLADIMIROVA