Existen centenas de
reseñas y debido a su número enorme no se pueden exponer en esta página.
Busquen en Internet en el idioma respectivo bajo el nombre de Hristo Boytchev.
Cornelia Niedermeier, "Der Vogelflung der Phantasie", Der Standart,
January 25, 1999
Matthias Greuling, "Pulverfass Irrehauss", Die Neue Furche
"Flieg, Oberst, flieg!", ORF o1 Magazin, January 22, 1999
"Balkan Blues erstmals im deutschen Sprachraum", January 27, 1999
"Groteske im Irrenhaus", Kronen Zeitung, January 25, 1999
"Militar und Irrenhaus", Neue Zeit, January 23, 1999
Lona Chernel, "Vom Irrwitz in der Welt", Wiener Zeitung, January
"Beflugelter Balkan Blues", Die Presse, January 25,
R. Wagner, "Botschaft der Sehnsucht", Neues Volksblatt, January
"Grotesker Gruss des Balkans", Kurier, February 4,
Marina Castelova, "Plukovnik Ptak oslavuje NATO a 40 let Divadla Na
Zabradli", Lidove noviny, 11 December, 1998
"Je dobre umet
bibnout az do skonani, rika reziser Petr Lebl", MF DNES, 8 December,
Radka Prchalova, "Divadlo Na Zabradli zije hlavne Bulharskem a vstupem
do NATO", MF DNES, 10 October, 1998
Ivan Medenitza, "Puchka comedia", Politica, April 6, 1998
Jelko Yovanovich, "Poslushni voynitzi zlih gospodara", Nasha
borba, April 8, 1998
Petar Volk, "Pukovnik ptitza", Illustrovana politica, April
M.O. Dragash, "Let iznad srtza Balkana", Beogradske novine,
May 22, 1998
"Sezoni i zamahi", Nezavisni, April 10, 1998
Aleksandar Milosavlevich, "Tri sna o srechi", Vreme, April 18,
"Ludazi marshirayu", Dnevni telegraf, April 7, 1998
Dragina Boshkovich, "Petdeset godina i simbolichno", Politica
Express, April 4, 1998
Jelko Hubach, "Velika igra", Danas, April 4, 1998
Miloslav Mirkovich, "Potroshena metafora", Vecherne novosti,
April 4, 1998
Sl. Vuchkovich, "Ko ye ovde lud?", Novosti, April 4, 1994
Vladimir Stamenkovich, "Angajman dushe", NIN, April 9, 1998
||THEATER | REVIEW Vol. 6
No. 11 November 17 -23, 2000
One Crazy Bird
by Joel Beers
While the state incarcerates and ignores the insane, art has often treated
them as they were generally treated in the Middle Ages. According to Michel
Foucault’s groundbreaking Madness and Civilization, before the advent
of the Age of Reason, the mad were viewed as fools; idiot or criminal,
they nonetheless possessed a kind of secret knowledge of a world unbound
by reason and morality.
Shakespeare’s Fool in King Lear, Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Ken Kesey’s
Randall P. MacMurtry are three popular examples. Add to this list Fetisov,
the heroic colonel in Bulgarian playwright Hristo Boytchev’s farce, The
Set against the backdrop of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, Boytchev’s
farce begins in a decrepit monastery in an isolated mountain region. Even
the nuns have fled, leaving behind six charges in various states of madness.
A supposed doctor (a suitably wry Chris McCool) whose madness truly is
chemical—he’s a junkie—is assigned to work with the patients.
What truly sets things into motion is the discovery of dozens of United
Nations humanitarian-aid boxes mistakenly dropped in the vicinity of the
monastery. Among the candy bars and powdered milk are genuine-issue United
Nations peacekeeping uniforms. This discovery transforms a previously
catatonic patient, a former Russian colonel (a commanding Carl Reggiardo),
into a man possessed of firm conviction and noble aspirations. He declares
the monastery a free state. Of course, he’s absolutely nuts. But he’s
gloriously nuts. The strength of his vision is potent enough to liberate
and motivate his fellow patients into a quixotic quest across the war-ravaged
Balkans in order to meet their destinies as free men and women in the
so-called free West.
It’s a fascinating setup that never quite realizes its potential. The
play suffers from structural deficiencies: halfway through, the engaging
doctor becomes a dramatic afterthought. Still, it’s a provocative, entertaining
piece of theater with plenty to occupy the brain.
Director Adrian Giurgea supplies an intriguing vision in this California
Repertory production. The Edison Theatre is laid out with seats on either
side of the space; the action takes place in the middle. This forces the
audience to look down on the action, creating an experience like something
out of a Roman gladiator fight. (Insert appropriate props here for set
designer Walid Ameer and light designer Michael Schrupp.)
Giurgea captures a gloomy, foreboding tone that makes the play’s darkly
ironic humor funnier. Giurgea also elicits strong performances from the
talented ensemble, all of whom have ample moments to shine.
The honest performances and firm direction add to the mix in this already
rich play. It may take a long time to really get going, but The Colonel
Bird offers an often fascinating ride that carries the viewer to places
all too often dismissed by most playwrights —including our most basic
concepts of sanity. Like others in this genre of madness, Boytchev’s play
seems to reject a firm line between sanity and insanity. Set against the
backdrop of war, his characters’ idealistic quest for community with the
larger "sane" world outside is all the more poignant. How can
any civilization that regularly engages in the irrational abomination
of war call a person insane when his only crime is hiding beneath a bed
because he’s afraid he’ll be stepped on? The answer, of course, is that
in good conscience, it can’t. The sad reality is that it does.
It’s all about power, as Foucault argued. And power is what these abandoned
and forgotten patients lack—until their crazy colonel gives it to them
by convincing them that the world they inhabit, while not accessible to
the so-called sane, is just as valid, just as real and just as valuable.
And ultimately and sadly, just as impossible to live in peacefully.
COLONEL BIRD BY California REPertory AT THE EDISON THEATRE
Daily News Entertainment Editor September 19, 2000
When lunatics are running the asylum, you generally have cause for concern.
Sometimes, however, lunatics have the right idea.
a.. What: “The Colonel Bird”
b.. Where: Pittsburgh Playhouse
c.. When: Through Oct. 8
d.. Box Office: 412-621-4445
That’s one of the underlying themes in “The Colonel Bird,” kicking off Pittsburgh
Playhouse Repertory Company’s season.
Set in the political loony bin that’s the Balkans, “Colonel Bird” deals
with a faux doctor who does his best doctoring by doing the least. He’s
largely an observer/convert as a messianic soldier causes fellow inmates
to toe the line and seek unity (birds of a feather) with the whole of mankind.
“Line” is the operative word. The Colonel hands his disturbed troops a line
that happens to jive nicely with Judeo-Christian thought. He also promotes
the military concept of shortest distance between two points (thin red line,
long gray line, line in the sand...), one that, in this particular case,
is a lifeline.
The idea is that society needs rules; the military, through inherent control,
requires that rules be followed. The army, then, can be a force for salvation
rather than destruction. It also can be a threat: when non-uniformed control
fails, those who wave the flag may be tempted to step in and take control.
The doctor/narrator (John Amplas), who has problems of his own, is assigned
to an out-of-the-line-of-fire storage facility for mental patients. It’s
kind of like dropping into prison with the “Man of La Mancha,” because the
result basically is the same: man with a plan focuses the masses, who proceed
on a spiritual crusade.
The charismatic Colonel (his bird aspect is symbolic of rising above, of
breaking the bonds, of ascending in a heavenly manner) is played in a focused,
earnest way by John Shepard. He’s proof that clothes make the man, and men,
and sometimes a woman (Mary Rawson, as the Customs Officer).
Reveling in the absurdity of their situation are the patients whose lives
are altered by manna from the heavens, led by the always fun Joe Schulz
as the Actor, John Gresh as the Thief, Philip Winters as the Corporal and
Kevin Lageman as the wee little guy.
One part of the set is the doctor’s office, which looks as though it was
whited-out by the powers that were. Main play area is a collapsed monastery
(symbolic of the crumbling of the Yugoslav confederation), whose Rube Goldberg-like
reassembly represents reconciliation.
Or, restoring what once had been suggests Lincoln was right: a house divided
can’t be driven down the street (take my word for it, that makes sense).
And whoever thought that dropping the Playhouse temperature to late February
levels should be commended for the goosebump-inspiring special effect.
Bottom Lines: “The Colonel Bird,” which drags on a little too long, perches
on the line that an enforced uniting of ethnic groups is likely to result
in conflict, but that the idea of a united nations, in which membership
is voluntary, is worth ignoring borders to achieve.
For all its flights of fancy, “Bird” takes solid shots at geopolitics,
argues that feelings of impotence can be salved by governmental intervention.
Playwright Hristo Boytchev obviously agrees with the above-mentioned man
from La Mancha’s position that it’s madder to see life as it is rather
than as it should be.
Entertainment - The Arts - September 19, 2000
Playhouse opens season with vibrant `Colonel Bird'
By Alice T. Carter
TRIBUNE-REVIEW THEATER CRITIC
Every great society is a game with set rules, explains a character in
"The Colonel Bird." To be considered sane, all you have to do
is obey those rules.
That's the organizing principle behind Hristo Boytchev's "The Colonel
Bird," which had its American premiere as the opening production
of the Pittsburgh Playhouse Repertory Company's 2000-01 season. In it,
the inmates of an insane asylum in an isolated monastery somewhere in
the Balkans save their sanity by learning to function as a UN Task Force.
The philosophy is, of course, as plausible as it is unworkably simplistic:
Just tell that patient to stop listening to those voices in his head.
That's like suggesting that all that's needed for world peace is for people
to get along with each other.
The "what" is easy to articulate. It's the "how" that's
tricky to implement.
Of course, Boytchev doesn't expect to be taken literally. His Balkan insane
asylum and its inmates are a microcosm and metaphor for the political
bedlam that's been raging more or less continually in that southeast corner
of Europe since at least the early 1800s and at regular intervals around
the world since the Tower of Babel failed its stress test. A fake doctor
down to his last 10 ampules of morphine takes over an isolated asylum
in the mountains of Bosnia/Herzegovina/Serbia/Montenegro or thereabouts.
His haphazard attempts to create order fail as inmates wait for supplies
from a relief truck that will never arrive. Crates of uniforms and food
are mistakenly dropped nearby. The patients don the clothing and are mistaken
for soldiers by a paranoid schizophrenic who imagines himself as a colonel.
He organizes them into a self-proclaimed nation, and they set out to establish
Director Jonathan Eaton succeeds best when he plays out this tale seriously
and simply. The show is least successful when it lapses into total metaphor
with Scott Wise's choreography in the second act. Eight dancers clad in
white wispy costumes emerge brandishing feathery doves on long poles overhead.
It's a poetic, visually hopeful moment, but an unnecessary distraction.
He's also supported by Danila Korogodsky's expressionistic set, which
begins as a stage littered with a jumble of towers and walls that are
used for beds and other furniture. Andrew David Ostrowski's evocative
lighting plays nicely off the rising mists of the opening scene, then
supports the mood shifts from dejected resignation to confident action.
As order gains supremacy, the pieces assemble themselves into a miniature
monastery and then transform into the tank that transports this diplomatic
band into the larger world. But the real interest in this piece is in
its performances. Eaton is blessed with a company of talented, committed
professional performers who bring nuance and understanding to their characters.
Kevin Lageman and Philip Winters turn in remarkably fine performances
subtly shaded with minute details and never flagging reality. Joe Schulz's
performance as the actor-turned-soldier is as restrained as it is rewarding
to watch. Mary Rawson's customs office/whore travels the greatest emotional
arc in a distinctly rendered, perceptive performance that would be difficult
to ignore even if she were not the play's sole female performer.
John Amplas functions seamlessly as the play's narrator and the fake doctor
who surrenders willingly to the madness swirling around him. John Shepard
retains total command as the seemingly sane Colonel who galvanizes the
As a dramatic work, "The Colonel Bird" breaks no new dramatic
ground. But it's a stimulating and vibrant showcase for its professional
||ENGLAND - London
||The Colonel BirdGate Theatre, London
A play set on the Serbian border where Nato planes fly overhead on bombing
missions cannot be faulted for being out of date, Jeremy Kingston writes.
It so happens that the targets lie in Bosnia, but since Balkan history
always alternates between despotism and slaughter, it is no surprise to
learn that the play is supposed to be set in the year 2000. This year
Kosovo, next year Macedonia: death's carousel sometimes whirls faster
but never stops going round.
Hristo Boytchev is from Bulgaria, a country currently at peace, and though
the war next door impinges on his characters, its battles remain offstage.
Most of the play is set in the ruins of a monastery, cut off by snowdrifts
and wolves at the far end of a gorge, where half a dozen mental patients
live a degraded life until a disorientated UN plane deluges them with
aid parcels. "The Balkans are all the same to them," one of
the inmates shrewdly points out. "They were told to drop aid on the
Balkans, so that's what they've done."
Combat uniforms and sky-blue berets are included in the aid, and these
transform the most traumatised patient (Damian Myerscough) into a UN colonel,
who in turn transforms the others into a disciplined and purposeful group,
though all of them continue to be mad. Eventually the group applies to
join Nato as an independent force, attaching their application to the
leg of a migrating bird and scanning the winter skies for an answer.
With Nato seen as an all-providing god, what we have here is plainly an
allegory for Eastern Europe's longing to join the banquet. Boytchev is
not concerned to examine the nature of madness - the Gate's current season
is called The Idiots - except insofar as a wish to join the West might
be a disturbing symptom. So the disorganised mad behaviour at the start
is something of a trial to watch.
Once the madness is canalised into Lilliputian ambition, Rupert Goold's
direction creates an impressive coherence. The bird-catching scenes are
exciting, with the characters huddling together and leaning back in unison
when the flocks pass above them. Adam Cork's fast, jangling music also
gives a fine sense of adrenalin pounding through the system, and though
the characters are seldom more than two-dimensional, the performances
are vigorous, while the closing scene, in Strasbourg's cathedral square,
packs a hearty satiric punch.