Ivan Vazov National Theatre of Bulgaria, Sofia
premiere 22 October 2004, Main stage
After the novel "Homeless
and Friendless" by
Author of dramatisation
(2004) & director
Set design & costumes
180 min., with intermission
Valery Jordanov, Deyan Donkov, Roussi Chanev, Valentin Ganev, Valentin Tanev, Renny Vrangova, Hristo Petkov, Plamen Peev, Teodor Elmazov, Stoyan Alexiev, Darin Angelov, Deyan Angelov, Evgeni Budinov, Ivan Yurukov, Daniel Angelov, Elisaveta Gospodinova, Dani Rashev, Vassil Draganov, Vasilena Vincenzo, Viktor Tanev, Vladislava Nikolova, Sava Dragunchev, Hristo Terziev
Long live Bulgaria!
The play "Exiles" after Vazov's novel is the first ever play to be presented in the newly inaugurated building of the National Theatre of Bulgaria in 1904. It has several stagings and it has marked the 50-th and the 100-th jubilees of the theatre.
The exiles are homeless, friendless, moneyless but certainly not hopeless or beggars. They are proud and freedom-seeking; some of them a bit more of wasters than not - if you ask the rich, a bit more of heroes than not - should you ask the repressed. On a stage in a foreing city the exiles are passionately performing their amateur show - a dress rehearsal for the real-life fight that is to come. In this fight the exiles will welcome death but with the price of their death freedom for all will be reclaimed.
A group of Bulgarian emigrants are organising a revolution to liberate Bulgaria from the yoke of the Turkish Empire. They leave for Braila, a city in Romania on the river Danube. From Braila’s shores they watch the Bulgarian city Rousse and romanticise about coming back into an independent Bulgaria. The exiles need money to fund the revolution. Living in misery is not enough so they decide to hold a theatre performance and collect money from tickets but when the sum is in their hands they launch it out in the local pub and pay old debts.
A powerful story about the angels and demons that make us devote our life to an idea so thoroughly that we not only abandon our personal interest, but the idea itself becomes our personal interest.
"The action in "Exiles" takes place outside Bulgaria. It is a situation in which one is on the edge of one's moral endurance, when all foundations of one's personality are challenged. I've learned this from my own experience lately because I have been living outside my country for long periods of time. Everyone should challenge himself to live abroad, because one must experience the pain of alienation, the pain of loneliness; one must provoke... nostalgia... it's not the right word... maybe experience the pain of a lost paradise. We cannot fully understand a situation from the inside of it, we cannot truly feel the love of our family when we have it on a daily basis. Feeling lonely among people means being in pain. Misery turns pain into desperation. The desperate man is not a noble man. Evolution is not irreversible - millions of years can be erased after a few days of hunger and you turn back to an animal, a much more cruel animal that any animal we know. Remaining human is an unhuman task. We needed to present the exiles with all of their faces - enjoyable and repulsive, miserable and powerful, not just as single-sided characters. In every situation they are both villains and heroes. It is a difficult dilemma - who is to survive - you or your friend. It is a deeply tragical question. This is not a matter of character clash, this is clash between the man and the destiny. At the end of it, "Exiles" is about the man who fights destiny."
The production has received as near as ten theatre awards in Bulgaria, among which: Ikar 2005 for directing and for high achievements in the technical realisation; Askeer 2005 for leading actor (Valeri Jordanov), for directing and for best production; Ivan Dimov award 2005-2006 for leading actor (Valeri Yordanov); New Bulgarian Drama Festival 2006 for directing, for set design and for best actor (Valentin Ganev); Annual Culture Prize of Municipality of Sofia 2005 given to Alexander Morfov for his production “Exiles”.
“Exiles” has toured in Skopje, Macedonia, St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, and Bucharest, Romania.
The production is still presented after more than 10 years since its opening and after more than 200 performances.
"Mihaile, come off the train, right now! Mihaile, you are not leaving! You won't leave! I couldn't live without you! Don't leave me, Mihaile, I don't want you to leave me! The hell with your revolution! The hell with your war! The hell with your freedom! I want to live my life now! I want to be happy now!"
"During all those years we were here because of you. People like you keep having faith in the causes we have faith in. Today theatre gives hope to the desperate man. We are so desperate and worried about everything that goes on that we need some hope, a hand, a step... something to lean on to be able to continue living. Because slavery has lasted for too long. It was not only 500 years, it is now 650 years... Slavery to money, avarice, brutality. Thank God you are here and you still have faith in what we have been repeating like madmen: that kindness, humanity, love, honesty, decency and thirst for freedom are indispensible in our lives. This is what we believe in. We do it each night and none of us has ever simulated those feelings, I swear. Thank you for being with us during all those years - those of you who still believe in lost causes, in ruined hope, in distorted life. But regardless of everything we still believe that something will happen. We believe that tomorrow will be yesterday again - the "yesterday" that we dreamt it would become our "tomorrow"."
Morfov's words for the audience after the jubilee performance on 22.10.2014
Icarus Annual Theatre Award, given by the Union of Bulgarian Actors, 2005 - Alexander Morfov, Stage Director of the Year
Icarus Annual Theatre Award, given by the Union of Bulgarian Actors, 2005 - Excellence in technical realisation
Askeer Annual Theatre Award 2005 - Alexander Morfov, Stage Director of the Year
Askeer Annual Theatre Award 2005 - Best Theatre Production
Askeer Annual Theatre Award 2005 - Valery Jordanov, Leading Male Role
Ivan Dimov Theatre Awards for Young Bulgarian Artists 2004/2005 - Valery Jordanov, Leading Male Role (Brachkov)
International Theatre Festival "Drumevi Theatre Celebrations" for New Bulgarian Drama, Shumen 2006 - Alexander Morfov, Stage Director
International Theatre Festival "Drumevi Theatre Celebrations" for New Bulgarian Drama, Shumen 2006 - Elena Ivanova, Set Designer
International Theatre Festival "Drumevi Theatre Celebrations" for New Bulgarian Drama, Shumen 2006 - Valentin Ganev, Best Male Role
Annual Cultural Prize given by Sofia Municipality for the production "Exiles" - Alexander Morfov, Stage Director
"The new "Exiles" reveal one of the most precious qualities of Alexander Morfov as a director - he doesn't put an end to a production with the opening. It is not a result from three months of rehearsing, what we saw was a result from 10 years of work. In the beginning of the rehearsaing process improvisations are written down and later this chaotic acting is structured by Morfov who builds the scaffold of roles and lines. But then he continues - he is constantly adding more and more layers to his work, even years later. Today the "Exiles" are like a canvas on which the artist Morfov has added multiple coats of paint, made numerous hits with the brush, or has gently shaded certain tones to refine them..."
"It is not a coincidence that for the first time in probably a century now the main hall of our national theatre joyfully echoes with the exulted cry "Long live Bulgaria!", moreover, without making you feel as if you were on a street protest."
"A production as spectacular as if we were in Hollywood, as picturesque as if in a Fellini or Kosturica movie and as ecstatic as the Bulgarian spirit can be – torn by the internal controversy of miserable life and the prospect of a dream Bulgaria where one can find home, he can rest in its peace and reach for happiness."
"Literaturen vestnik", newspaper
"The production was simply amazing – brilliant, spectacular and so emotional that it brought me to tears more than once in spite of me not knowing the language. I had read "Homeless and Friendless" before and I am truly impressed by Morfov’s adaptation. These were first-class actors and each of them left me breathless. The directing was excellent as well. As I can figure Morfov is a director who expresses himself with the help of the actors and I immediately grew to know each character and to empathise with their faith. I would like to thank Alexander Morfov for making my acquaintance with Bulgarian theatre such a powerful and unforgettable experience."
Elizabeth Frank, Pulitzer prize winner
Exiles for Life | Elitsa Ivanova, epicenter.bg 23.10.2014