A lyrical collage of poems, letters, and memoirs about love by Ivan Vazov
by Mirela Ivanova
Initially, it was actress Paraskeva Dzhukelova who came up with the idea to stage a reading of Vazov’s love poems, and then this idea was developed and the work on the lyrical account of love fared pretty well with matchless dedication and absorbing passion. Artistically, Vazov’s intimate poems are his most vulnerable side. Vazov began to write poetry at the age of 19, inspired by his love for Katherina, still not having a developed writing style, examples to follow, standard Bulgarian language for that matter, and his poems were but a powerful sensual tide. Most of them perished when his native town Sopot was reduced to ashes by the başıbozuks (irregular soldiers of the Ottoman army) in 1877, and some of the extant along with those composed later in Ruse on the Danube were included in his book A Bunch of May Flowers. Much later, in 1919, his personal anthology Scenting Lilac features well-structured and well-mastered intimate poems; still, even the best of them are a far cry from his greatest masterpieces in terms of their power. Intimate poems are Vazov’s most vulnerable side in that we have refused him in a particular way this belonging to the sensual, personal essence of life, and he too was more than a reserved man of few words, very discreet about the matter, uttering occasionally a painful word to Prof. Shishmanov, or in a letter. Of his personal life, only speculations circulate, an unhealthy interest in his death, and almost no understanding of the age, mission, patriarchal upbringing, and the value consistency, that predetermined his ultimate thought vibrating with infatuations, love affairs, and inspiration loneliness. Lonely and shared with everybody, with his nation.
Oh, You, Whoever You Are... is a lyrical collage seeking with a great deal of theatrical imagination and respect to answer the questions: who were the mysterious women whom he loved and who inspired him? Who were the women behind his stately presence? What was the role of his mother Suba Vazova, who kept to her dying day watching like a hawk not only her firstborn Ivan, but also all her nine children? For it is well known how loving and loveable the poet was from his first love Katherina to Eugenia Mars at the twilight of his life, to whom he unspokenly dedicated his anthology Scenting Lilac in 1919. His unrequitable love for the Turkish convert to Christianity Peša in Berkovitsa, whom Vazov gave the poetic name Zehra, like in the eponymous poem dedicated to her, and the seismic life-changing two-year bliss with Pelagia are among the significant events in the poet’s lyrical account, spiritualized by many of his poems, excerpts from letters and memories...
Premiere: 7th, 8th and 9th July 2020