Ştefana Pop-Curşeu on the Theme of Mirroring chosen for the 2023 International Meetings

Ştefana Pop-Curşeu is the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Cluj and is instrumental in the theme chosen for the theatre’s annual theatre festival. This year’s evocative keyword is “Mirrors”. Pop-Curşeu elaborates on how all the theatre’s productions that were featured in the festival are connected by this evocative theme.

Ştefana Pop-Curşeu was interviewed by Dana Rufolo


Ştefana Pop-Curşeu photographed by Axel Hörhager.


DR: How did you select the word ‘Mirrors’ to represent your theatre festival this year?

SP-C: Each year we have discussions on what is common about our productions. We find themes connecting our productions, and then we have to find a word that sounds good in both Romanian and English. We have to decide in the middle of the season, of course, but this year when we discussed the theme we had already had “Dona Juana” where the director Tudor Lucanu is playing with mirrors and you have a very crazy and dramatic mirroring and playing with masks and even the characters are doubling each other and entering into one another’s character – it’s a complex process of mirroring.

We already knew we were going to put on “Amphitryon”, and there of course you have the double and the dramatic problem behind all this confusion generated by mirrors. We realized that all our productions this year were raising questions about the double. In “The Stagehands”, you have the mirror of the stage backstage. The characters mirror what the actors do, because they would like to be onstage but don’t have the possibility.

“Drakeshead” puts a mirror in front of us and society and says: “Look at you, this is your ridiculous part, this is your real face!” It shows a society with its conventions.

Yes, but “Drakeshead” is a play by George Ciprian from 1938; it doesn’t show society as it is today.

It’s an absurdist play. It shows society as you can find it even now.  If we take the politicians, the character with a long beard is the representative of a conservative very closed society ruled by laws and not allowing anybody to say anything, no rebellion: you can find this today too, of course.

So when his beard is cut off, he changes?

Yes, he breaks with the old rules and becomes liberated from his stupid conventions. What is extremely important, at least for me, is that the play urges us to put a mirror in front of each of us and asks who you are, why you are the way you are, and what you can change about it.

Is that for you the most important thing: mirrors showing who we are?

In “Drakeshead” yes. But in “The Untamed Shrew”, you have deforming mirrors like those mirrors in a fair, because you don’t have the normal reflection of the Shakespearean text. You become a monster. Alfred Jarry said that theatre is a deforming mirror of the monster who is the audience.

In the Pirandello performance of two of his short stories that we called “The Black Mirror”, as Roberto Bacci the director explained during the post-performance discussion, the actor Ionuț Caras tries to bring a mirror in front of the audience and work with the audience in a special way so that the audience identifies themselves with the character and reflects upon their own identity and problems. In the second story, the striking thing is the references to the pandemic even though it was written by Pirandello decades earlier. You have the character looking at himself in the shop window which is reflecting and he is blowing on the window, meaning that he himself will disappear; he is actually killing himself. Here you have a sort of mirror. It’s a metaphorical mirroring.

The shamanic poem “The Quest” is really about the mirror of our souls; what we have to look for when we project what we want to see. It’s not what we always really need to see.  It’s a quest for one’s identity.


This interview was conducted in English.