Valentina ZahariaFrom: București Born on: 8 September 1985 Occupation: Actor
I pressed play and from the speakers of the laptop followed the words:
All you’ll end up with are trifling ephemeras
If you keep giving up at the first go
So you do not concede so easily and bypass
The obstacles covering the grace below
Staying on the edge of the bed I listened, feeling them somewhat strangely close, I analyzed the voice inflections and stop!
Play, stop and from beginning!
The song A diamond in the rough recited by Valentina Zaharia in the Stand-up Poetry Guerrilla live was for a few minutes a closed loop.
No matter how excellent actor you are, the feelings her performance started, certainly came from the human part of Valentina and probably less from artist part. There, in that moment, I found the answer to a clandestine question of my mind: Can we, the spectators, see in an actor anything else but the sum of his roles?
She has humor and knows how to make fun of life. She recently moved to a respectable street in Bucharest, but she tells how he sees buses when they retire in their depot at night: “In this way I will not forget from where I left!” and makes a delicate and ironic smile, pointing Berceni on the imaginary map. High chambers, a lot of empty space and a few objects to accident it a little bit, creating a dynamic – that’s what she wanted from his new home. She recognizes that it is a theatrical thinking and, in the end, is perfectly reasonable for an actor. “I like a couch where you can sink, but not necessarily have a thousand other things besides. And for me it is more important that I can breathe in that space, as if I can think more clearly.”
Valentina Zaharia impressed me in the World Within show, because only a smart and honest human, a person with an assumed past, can, as the actress said at some point, go in somewhere very deep and manage to go out to the surface in only one breath.
This is a personal opinion, which is why I wanted to discover her opinion about how an actor is or should be, believing that from a general answer the identification of an customize one will be possible.
MS: Which are the human structure and qualities required to be an actor?
When you say human construction, I think impulsively that there must be a void within you and a desperate need to be seen, and then, sooner or later, you have to reconcile with yourself. I have said these words with a slight bantering associated with extremes, but also with the fear that a percentage of truth exists here and that the need and pleasure to be on stage can sometimes draw the root of such a soul structure.
And to be able to perform you need a lot of things. You need an acuity of movement, an awareness of the space you are in, good joints – the actor is always standing and moving and a strong memory. At the beginning of my career it seemed to me that remembering the texts was the easiest part of the profession, but in time I realized that you needed a certain type of memory and a permanent exercise of it. There are performances, such asWorld Within, written by John Elson and directed by Catinca Drăgănescu, where I act alone and is an hour and a half of text that I must know and say. The voice and her mobility is again important.
MS: I chose, among all yours shows, to see first the The World Within because you said at some point that this show is for you. How is it for you?
Well, literally. I met John Elsom at the Shakespeare Festival in Craiova and he wanted to write a text for me, but not having enough time to do it, from two unpublished stories we’ve built together a scenario for an actress – a one-woman show.
I chose them because they resonated strongly with me and these stories were based on a subject of significant concern to me – the idea of the world within, the world inside us. For me it is a territory that must be explored like the oceans or the planet Mars are for other people. It seems to me that what we do not know about us is much bigger than what we know and that we need to analyze these places. Therefore, life gets a true meaning and also it gives meaning in relation with others, because we understand why we behave the way we do it, who we are, and how we can grow. It is my strongest belief.
In addition, is another twist there, because the subject of childhood is intense presented. In the first part of the show, the character is the 6-year-old girl and only then, through the end, she turns to the old woman on the hospital bed. And it seems to me that John has had a great measure and it was completely right when he decided to write about how important is to all of us, how we grow up and how intense and significant can be certain moments. Later in life we realize the role and the impact of those moments. And the relationship of this girl with her dying sister, with her angry and absent mother, maybe worried … deeply expose this subject.
MS: I know that at the age of 5 you received a tape where a French professor recited The Cricket and the Ant, wrongly from your point of view. What is your unique way of presenting on stage a text? It seems to me different, but I do not know how to explain in which way different and I want to mention that when I was in audience at The Tectonics of Feelings I notice how quiet it was in the theater when you started talking.
I can tell you how it is in my imagination, otherwise I do not know how it is perceived. When I read a text and it also depends on the text, because sometimes I do not resonate with it, it’s like when I hear a tuning fork and I get the sound produced and put it into the way I act on stage. I know it does not clarify anything, but this metaphor is the best example.
MS: I understand why you chose to recite The Cricket and the Ant, in Guerrilla Stand-up Poetry, but the song, Diamond in the rough? Why did you choose it?
A very good friend send it and it means to me a lot, including the way and the moment when I received it. I felt it was about me at my best, because I tend to be very demanding with myself, and the song reminds me how it can be otherwise, how you can forgive your own shortcomings and mistakes you do. You don’t have to shine all the time and in some situations you can just be a diamond in the rough.
MS: Can you give me an example?
It’s more a matter of reporting – I no longer give priority to the grievances I sometimes have. This kind of thing helped me this month in Paris in the play “Rien, mais l’j’ai envie de mourir” directed by Vlad Chiriţă, where I had doubts whether I may be a fixed actress that was needed there, but another could not be anyway, because it was the show about me. I acted with more leniency, able to accumulate and learn from my mistakes. I allowed myself to look at me and how the other people in the team looked at me, because I had a team that played with confidence, admiration, pleasure and coherent, rational feedback needed to improve the show. What I say here seems trivial, but in fact it is a sweeping attitude that is harder to meet with artists. I confess that before I was more willing to blame myself for all my little or my mistakes and mistakes.
MS: But where do you fit or feel better, in shows where you have partners or in individual ones?
I’m better with other people and I’m more in control with other people because we’re a team and we’re helping each other. And you’re really more vulnerable when you’re alone on stage, because you’re in a permanent dialogue with yourself. And the question is: How the hell do you manage to surprise yourself? Because by his actions a partner surprise you, and it’s easier to relate to the concrete reality of another than to what’s in your head. The question remains open, because I do not know how I do it, how I create the surprise.
MS: Do you think an actor has to play as diverse as possible?
Yes. And this idea of one-man / one-woman show seems not so theatrical to me, and I think it came up with the needs of the contemporary man, because it is like a confession and now I think people are more willing to see that. In addition, one-man/ one-woman shows were built on the basis of an actor’s excellence or mastery, which is fair, but it seems to me that in present through what happens in the world, the theme becomes important, what you have to say becomes important, and who you are as a human, as an artist. And then there is a double confession, one of the soul and the other one is related to your profession. And yes, it becomes an interesting and exciting show. But deeply theatrical is the relationship between the actors, the implicit dialogue and the building of a scene, because the theater is more about relationships, ours, with each other.
MS: How do you see the differences between theater and film?
Now with a clearer eye because I started to play in movie industry and in my opinion the film resembles with theater rehearsals, it does not look like shows, although many people think so. At rehearsals you can change something, being in the same time very present and receptive to change, but you don’t have the concern of a person who looks at you.
MS: I think there is no fear of mistaking …
No, it is fear. From the moment you hear “Action!” you know that you are in the lens of the objective. Just as you have the viewer’s awareness, you also have the video camera consciousness, the awareness of being registered. Important is where you place it so you do not think permanently about it.
MS: Is there an actor you admire and you would like to play with?
I want to say in the sincerest way that I want to play more with my colleagues at Unteatru. I think that the team there is made up of real artists who create and from which I can say, as is always mentioned in all the glossy magazines, that I had a lot of things to learn.
MS: What do you appreciate at John Elsom?
It is difficult to say. We have known for four years and … that he is so dedicated to the things he does and very competent. He does not have many projects, but the ones he chooses are very well done and I think that comes from his dedication, which is a combination of rigor and passion. He has a kind of insistence and leads things to the end, a skill to which I sincerely aspire.
MS: Do you think your instinct is a good one, or are all good instincts?
I think the instinct must always be complemented by rationality. Not with prejudices, not with something you have judged before, but you must understand your instincts and be in control. It’s like a horse you’re riding, he has the force to take you wherever you want, but you guide him.
MS: How would you want to get old?
I also have pictures like everyone else about how old age should be about a person who knows himself quite well, is wise, generous with others, and knits or not, is a landmark for future generations. But this is just a profile that for me is now very unclear. I am a little frightened and uncertain, because I asked myself these questions and because I do not know into what I’m evolving, when the evolution will stop, and if I can get through this process.
I know physical suffering both from my own experience and mediated, and I know that old age is related to suffering, plus I do not know how you relate to a body that does not listen to you anymore and to the idea of autonomy that flows from here. But, I do not think you can know until you get there: how it is to have fewer years to live than you already had. To those who are hurrying to answer to this question, I look at with some skepticism.