The Sibiu International Theatre Festival, the most important festival of performing arts in Romania and one of the most appreciated in Europe, represents a combination of theatre, dance, music, circus, film, book, conferences and exhibitions. The festival is attended by Romanian famous groups in the performing arts, but also by internationally renowned personalities, artists, directors, ambassadors, premiers and presidents.
In 1993, Constantin Chiriac, actor at the “Radu Stanca” National Theatre in Sibiu took the initiative of creating a theatre festival, being driven by the love for theatre and the desire to offer Sibiu a landmark. He was supported by a group of other Romanian and foreign actors and acting professors from theatre schools. Even though the first edition of the festival was not financially prepared, the quality of the performances of the guests lead to the festival’s continuity.
The prestige of the festival grew exponentially each year, with more and more countries desiring to participate. While in the 1994 edition there were eight participating countries, by 2005 the number of participating countries already reached 68. In 2007, the event received its recognition for contributing to Sibiu’s obtainment of the title of European Capital of Culture, along with Luxembourg City. The 2007 edition was exceptional for the festival, with more than 2,500 guests from 70 countries participating. The popularity of the event kept increasing, with the accommodation venues in the city being completely sold before the first day of the festival.
The festival lasts for ten days and consists of hundreds of events, such as theatre performances, dance shows, puppet shows, exhibitions, public conferences, book launches and concerts. The artists perform in tens of venues, with the old city and in the fortified medieval citadels and churches from Sibiu offering a spectacular background. Since 1995, the Sibiu International Theatre Festival has been held under a different slogan, with a wide variety of themes, such as Cultural Identity, Crisis. Culture makes a difference, Uniqueness in diversity or Growing smart/Smart growing.
The Sibiu Performing Arts Market
The Sibiu Performing Arts Market is an associated structure of the Sibiu International Theatre Festival, unique in Central and South-Eastern Europe, and it has led to Sibiu and Romania’s recognition as one of the most important markets in the world. The aim of the Sibiu Performing Arts Market is to facilitate connections between active members of the performing arts field all over the world, such as independent companies or public institutions, independent festivals and artists, agents, producers, cultural institutes and centres.
The cultural value of The Market has been recognized worldwide, leading to collaborations and partnerships with some the most important arts markets and networks around the world, such as Tokyo Performing Arts Market (Japan), Performing Arts Market Seoul (South Korea), Australian Performing Arts Market (Australia), Freiburg Bourse (Germany), Thun International Directory of Performing Arts Collections and Institutions (Switzerland), Moscow International Performing Arts Market (Russia), Northeast State Performing Arts Centre (USA).
This year’s edition in the context of the pandemic
The Sibiu International Theatre Festival became the first important performing arts festival in Central and Eastern Europe to be organized online in 2020. The special online edition maintained the structure kept in the previous years, lasting ten days and bringing 138 events from 30 countries and five continents. This edition was themed Empowered and included 13 different sections: theatre, dance, outdoor, contemporary circus, music, opera, film, special conferences, Therme Forum, the Sibiu Performing Arts Market, the Doctoral Platform and FITS for KIDS.
Mrs. Astrid Cora Fodor, Mayor of Sibiu, believes in the unifying power of culture even in the this difficult context, declaring that “This year’s theme, Empowered, is very much in tune with current reality. We need to be empowered to overcome this hard situation and believe that the city of Sibiu will go back to normal as soon as possible, a normalcy which of course includes the enlivening and distinguishing touch of culture. You are all invited to watch this year’s Sibiu International Theatre Festival online and thus together to Empower our cultural Sibiu and our wonderful Theatre to believe that we will shortly see each other again, united into culture.”
All the events of #FITSonline are rebroadcasted free of charge between October and December on the website.
If you want to learn more about other Romanian international festivals, I recommend this article.