Review of “Paper Stories” by director Dimitar Stefanov, Theatre Corsair

A story without words
Gabriela Evstatieva
Production team
Directed by Dimitar Stefanov
Set designer Alek Ćurčić
Composer Milen Apostolov
Participants: Ivan-Alexander Doychev, Hristo Petev, Velizar Evtimov

Any story told without words is a bold undertaking that relies on visual imagery, specific reflexivity and materiality. In puppetry, vision, form and matter are leading components of the performance. They directly affect the viewer and reveal the deeper meaning of a text.

The non-verbal performance “Paper Stories” by the director Dimitar Stefanov and his young team, relies entirely on the playing of the material, the visual content and the musical picture. The scenographer of the performance is Alek Ćurčić, the author’s music is composed by the composer Milen Apostolov, and the cast includes Hristo Petev, Ivan-Alexander Doichev and Velizar Evtimov.

The directorial concept focuses on telling the story of the world wordlessly in five visual-musical episodes. The actions take place on a construction with a horizontal plane, which is specially adapted to the needs of the performance. The story begins with the creation of the World and the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden; followed by the myth of the Tower of Babel and the separation of nations, followed by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The beautiful story of a human life and the hyperbolized scene of the finale represent the modern man and his consumer nature that will bring the World to its end.

Even if divided into episodes, the show retains its integrity. It represents the image of the human being, which is the fruit of history, religion and moral values that have accumulated over time. The development and rise of civilization from the unit and its incorporation into the social way of life and communication are considered. This generalized image of man is perceived on a sensory level by the viewer through images, pictures, gestures and music.

The complexity of the acting performance is based on the fact that the non-verbal form implies greater energy in the performance. Communicating with the audience and leading the variety paper puppets requires focus and strong concentration. The acting of the paper material by the actors is a key moment in the impact of the performance on the audience. They manage to master the gesture and give emotion through the skillful manipulation of the puppets.

Undoubtedly, one of the most impressive scenes is the one telling the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, which is a theater of shadows set against a background of captivating music. The dolls are detailed and precisely crafted to recreate the tragic story.

Another important point is the original scenographic solution. In it we see the image of modern man living in the big crowded city. Surrounded by concrete buildings, he tries to find peace. As here, as in other scenes, lighting plays an important role in the overall perception. The alternation of light and dark enriches the director’s idea and contributes to the strong visual impact.

The performance excites and challenges its audience. It lays down basic human principles that should not be forgotten. “Paper Stories” is a food for thought about the world we live in, telling us a thousand-year-old story without words.

Translation is funded by National Culture Fund.