To Duel, or Not to Duel?
During the past few days, social media exploded when Nedyalko Delchev – а current associate professor at AUBG and a theater director- posted a letter with a proposal for a duel. This was a follow-up reaction caused by the criticism by Georgi Kapriev, a critic and professor at Sofia University, about the play “General Rehearsal For Suicide,” directed by Delchev.
The argument started after Kapriev posted the review in a Bulgarian newspaper. A few days later, Delchev shared on his Facebook page a letter addressed to the critic, in which he expressed his concern with Kapriev’s review. According to Delchev, the author’s approach, categorizations, linguistic style and incorrect usage of terms show lack of proficiency in the field and belie not only his, but also the reputation of the whole cast. In his letter, the director defends his production and his colleagues.
In his review, Kapriev defined Delchev’s play as “four methods to commit suicide in the theater,” which is a reference to the title of the play. Using Delchev’s play as a template Kapriev created a “recipe” for bad theater. The first step is to choose a very vigorous script that requires active thinking, from which the tragic laughter is going to start.
After that, according to Kapriev, one should bet without any alternative to the buffoon (buffoon-comedy, to which are inherent cruel irony, parody and satirical improvisation), and to leave the seriousness and insight motivation away while just “giving slaps” and “showing ass.”
The last scene should purpose to outline the hopelessness in the eyes of the critic even more – in the case of “Recipe for Theatrical Suicide,” not only the actors, but the action as well have been smeared.
The next move is to make the scenography – at first sight perfectly neat, but in reality non-functional at all. Everything has to be thrown chaotically, in order to hamper the actors even more.
The last step in the process of creating “bad” theater is to choose actors who want and can make theater, ones who can, but do not care, and finally ones that cannot make theater even if they want to.
After listing all these methods, the critic continued to comment the acting, underlining that one of the actors does not even know what happened on the stage, leaving the overplay, he just tried to impress with the volume of the text.
AUBG Daily contacted prof. Delchev for additional comments. The director explained that there is not a big background story behind this conflict. In fact, Delchev has never met Kapriev personally, even though he follows his work very carefully.
“The critic is working as a professor in the Philosophy department in Sofia University, and theater is like his secondary area of interest. He has written four, actually, very rude reviews of different productions in the last two months. I was planning to reply to him after the first one. I have been, between the last five and ten years ago, the chair of the Bulgarian Guild of Directors, and I was very angry how he allows himself to speak against some of my colleagues. So, after these three articles, the fourth was against one of my productions in the Musical Theater in Sofia.”
Delchev did not accept the review of his work as a constructive comment, but rather as a “total war” and an attempt of Kapriev to discredit him as a director. What is more, Delchev is concerned about the comments that the actors in the play have received. They have been insulted by Kapriev to be unsuitable for professional theater, which might strongly affect their future careers.Because of that, the cast of the play is seriously affected by the words of the critic and considers the possibility to sue him.
“Is the criticism trying somehow to reflect objectively what has been achieved and has not been achieved? Or the criticism is just an application of you general disagreement of the personality of a certain theater maker or actor. Like a total cross on his or her career.”
The director of the play explained that he is not afraid of failure. He has experienced it and does not fear to admit that his work might not be very good. According to him, when someone would like to express an opinion that a certain play is bad, he/she should do it with the proper respect toward the work of the people who have participated in the project.
As he was searching for justice, Delchev ended his open letter to the critic with an appeal for a duel. The general public was not aware of what “a dual” actually stands for. The director described it as a very open concept, a boxing match or a real dueling. Delchev doubts that there will be weapons included.“It could be just a discussion. One friend from Canada (AUBG alumnus) said ,’Why not a paintball?’ It could be anything,” he said. “This is why we have our representatives that should meet and, eventually, discuss what is more suitable for both of the sides.”
In case of a duel, the representatives are going to discuss the rules, then they are going to consult with a lawyer, and find a referee, so that everything is completely legal. Delchev considers “The Lovers’ Bridge,” next to the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, a suitable place for the duel.
Although, there are some Facebook events that suggest time and place, there is still no response from Kapriev, making all of them fraudulent. Delchev shared the publicity the conflict has reached is still a good beginning toward solving the problem with proper criticism in Bulgaria. According to him, reactions to critics are usually considered a weaknesses; however, in this case, he answered through an appropriate format. “This declaration for a duel is an equal response for the harsh language, the rude language of the article,” he said.
AUBG Daily will further follow the story and inform you on any developments.
This article is a joint effort of the AUBG Daily owls Mina Dobreva and Gabriela Georgieva.