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“D.J.", a theater scratch

 by Georgi Gospoinov


The play D.J. (an abbreviation of Don Juan) is the debut dramatic text of Georgi Gospodinov. The play was staged at the Satirical Theatre, Sofia (Season 2003/04). In 2004 it won the Icarus Award for the Best Dramatic Text of the Year given by the Bulgarian Actor’s Union. In March 2005, D.J. was among the ten best international texts selected by the jury of Berliner Festspiele. In May 2006 D.J. was staged (workshop performance) in France by Patrick Verschueren at the Festival Babel-Europe in Normandy. The play was presented in Rouen and Caen.


A radio-version of D.J. was produced by The Bulgarian National Radio (2005); director: Javor Gardev. It was selected for The Prix Europa 2005.


The play was selected by the European Theatre Convention (ETC) for their 2007 Edition “European Theater Today”.


In 2007, D.J. was staged in Theater im Keller, Graz (Austria).


D.J. was published in Russian in the selection Contemporary Bulgarian Drama (Moscow, 2004) and in Polish in Loty i powroty [Flights and Returns]. Five Contemporary Bulgarian plays (Krakow: Panga pank, 2008). The play has been translated also in English and French.





Exactly in the 17th century, the great age of the pipe which means of constancy, stability and strong family - because what else is the pipe, if not a cozy and decent home mantle-peace in miniature – so exactly at that time was born… Don Juan (the one of Tirso de Molina) who changed women like cigarettes. He was a smoker of cigarettes in a world of pipes. For me this is tragic in a specific way revealing a dramatic disagreement with the epoch.


If we accept that Don Juan is one of the names of the passion, then what happens today, four centuries later. How does the contemporary D.J. feel – like a smoker among non-smokers, like a lover among non-lovers…


D.J., of course, is an abbreviation of Don Juan that “translates” the classic and romantic image in the world of the new techno-culture. Hence the subtitle “a theater scratch”. It turned out that the literary myth Don Juan was a real hit in the pop culture of 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. And the scratch is possible exactly with popular vinyl records.


The play can be read as a light anti-utopia of the close future. The action goes in an aseptic space, in a world where all vices, including smoking, politically incorrect language, free falling in love, etc., are forbidden so that we can give up ourselves to a non-stress, non-cholesterol, healthy and happy life. Of course, among the forbidden vices is also art and theatre, to be specific. The only mercy shown by the system is “the booth of vice” where everybody has a few credits of sin. The personages of the play meet at this place. Ana and the unemployed actors that keep living with the roles of the last play they had played: “Don Juan.”


What gathers them is that Ana is in love with a voice, the therapeutic voice in the booth of vice (suspiciously reminding her of a man that left her) and they are playing exactly the great lover, the paradigmatic image of the lover – Don Juan. From that moment on we are offered a few plays in the play or a therapeutic game that Ana (already Donja Ana) is involved in by the actors. Every one of them “stages” his/her own version, his/her personal story (real or imagined) of Don Juan, this D.J. of love. We have five attempts of squalor, five small plays about the eternal lover in a time different form his own, in a time deprived of love.


Don Juan and the sex phone, Don Juan and the soap opera, Don Juan as a family man, Don Juan at a trial in Soviet Russia in the 30s…


Every time we see a confused person trying to love that cannot adapt himself to the system and the world. The only absent from the beginning is the actor that was playing Don Juan. At the end it turns out that it was his voice that sounded in the booth of vice, the voice that Ana was in love with. The voice that sounded so familiar belongs to man that in fact she has left years ago – something she admits after all of the therapeutic games. Finally they, Ana (Donja Ana) and the actor, the voice (Don Juan) gather together not without the help of the actors.


A light play with low quantity of tar and nicotine.

  Georgi Gospoinov





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