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Horovod – the Circle Closes

Desislava Tomova

On October 14th, at the opening of the theater season, the Slug Theater at New Bulgarian University (NBU) put on the premiere of Horovod (Round Dance) on the stage of Sfumato. The adaptation is directed by Delyana Maneva, the scenography is by Milena Panteleeva, and the musical arrangements by Georgi Arnaudov. The motto of NBU “Let us not fear diversity” applies to this play as well. The actors, all of them NBU alumni, make the best out of their roles, which largely correspond to their real-life characters. The roles themselves are varied and quite colorful: the whore (Malina Zmiycharova), the clerk (Velislav Pavlov), the hairdresser (Dobriela Popova), the landlord (Boyan Mechkov), the young woman (Margarita Petrova), the husband (Pyotr Ksheminski), the secretary (Asya Ivanova), the poet (Toma Brankovanov), the actress (Rositsa Gevrenova), the MP (Emil Stefanov-Emichelangelo). All characters embark on unheard-of love adventures and take only a month to bring them to fruition.


It is amazing how topical Werner Schwab’s play (The Round of Pleasure, After the Round Dance from the Pen of the Pleasant Mr Arthur Schnitzler) sounds today. The play was written in the 1980s and for a long time was banned from public performance. “It’s quite odd that for the first time we do an adaptation that corresponds to the original script from A to Z,” the director says. “In each scene we sought to discover the beginning of the action. Once the action starts rolling as a kind of contact, if it is experienced throughout one’s body, the sensation should pave the ground for the following action. At first sight, the process appears to be slow compared to working with a ready script, but actually things were happening quite naturally. It was crucial that we found a common story that we all could tell. That’s the story of the author, who appears as the poet.” There are four pivotal elements in the adaptation: society (the play opens with the low strata and climbs to the top, before coming down again), sex, death, and the family (the theme appears in the second, fifth and seventh scenes – first as a marriage proposal, then as the marriage itself, and finally as a divorce). Each scene features a computer-processed musical transition – starting with ragtime, going through tango, Viennese Waltz, techno, and ragtime again.


Arthur Schnitzler’s play written in 1900 is known as Horovod in Bulgaria or by its French translation La Ronde. It is a study of the existential problems occurring in the interaction between men and women, in this case brought to life via the means of the Slug Theater. As soon as it appeared, the place scandalized society – it revealed that both in the so-called “higher” and the “lower” strata, morals were not particularly different. It highlighted the complete antagonism between one’s sensitivity and one’s position in society, for instance a clerk, an MP, etc. In Horovod, there is no love in the genuine sense of the word, but rather erotica, quite hard-core occasionally. The people who have lost the great capacity of giving and receiving love make up for it with promiscuity and various unimaginable combinations...


In the 1950s, the play was rehabilitated quite successfully by a screen adaptation starring Danielle Darrieux, Gérard Philipe, Simone Signoret. In Bulgaria, Schnitzler’s version was staged more than a decade ago by Zad Kanala Small City Theater, and in 2001, by the Varna State Theater, in an adaptation by Plamen Markov.


39 Grama newspaper, issue 21, October 2006